John Shiklam in Kaduna, Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo and Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; a former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU); Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, (OAU); a presidential candidate in 2019 general election and global energy executive, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; Nigeria Council of Yoruba Global Alliance and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) have mourned fiery social critic and spokesman of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who died on Saturday.
In a condolence message issued yesterday by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Moses Olafare, the Ooni of Ife described Odumakin, as an unforgettable patriotic descendant of Oduduwa and a positive factor in Nigeria’s democracy.
The revered monarch also described his death as a rude shock, lamenting that he died when the Yoruba nation in particular and Nigeria at large needed him the most.
“The news of Odumakin’s demise was a very bitter pill to swallow for the entire country and to us particularly in the House of Oduduwa. He was a disciplined Yoruba leader who has been one of the loudest pro-democracy voices in the country,” the monarch said.
Amosun lamented the death of Odumakin, saying he died a dogged fighter and a man glued to his ideals.
He said from the outpouring of grief from Nigerians and especially from the South-west, there was no doubt that the deceased led a life of courage, conviction and dedication to a cause he believed in.
“He was dogged, consistent and persistent. He pursued the fine ideals of activism, democracy, freedom, and good governance for the benefit of the majority of Nigerians till his last breath,” he said.
Falana joined the mourners to recall Odumakin’s past deeds, saying as a student activist he stood in defence of the rights of students.
“Based on his defence of students’ rights Yinka was elected the Public Relations Officer of the Students Union (1987-88). That was the time that the Ibrahim Babangida military junta embarked on the deradicalisation of the universities in order to weaken the capacity of the Nigerian people to resist the imposition of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP),” he recalled.
The Chairman of Council Yoruba Global Alliance, Chief Tola Adeniyi, described Odumakin’s death as shocking, unbelievable, stressing that it occurred at absolutely cruel timing.
According to him, it was like a thunderbolt strike into the heart of Yoruba nationalism.
“Bold, bright and outspoken, Yinka was a study in courage and fearlessness. His commitment to the Yoruba struggle for liberation and emancipation was never in doubt. He put his whole life on the line for the crusade. He stood stoutly against the recolonisation of Nigeria and the entire Nigerian indigenous nationalities,” he said.
SOKAPU described Odumakin, as a “fierce fighter for good governance, justice and democracy.”
In a statement issued yesterday, the President of SOKAPU, Mr. Jonathan Asake, said the news of the death of Odumakin was shocking.
“His demise hit the people of Southern Kaduna with great shock and sadness,” he said, adding: “Odumakin was a fierce fighter for good governance, justice and democracy, not only for his people but the entire country.”
The Vice-Chancellor of OAU, Ile Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, described the death of Odumakin, as not only tragic but a monumental loss to the country, the human rights community and OAU.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, stated that the OAU community received the sudden demise of Odumakin with shock and disbelief, adding that he died when his wealth of experience was most needed to chart a new path for the overall development of Nigeria.
It recalled that Odumakin graduated from the Department of English Language, Obafemi Awolowo University, in 1989, and was a vibrant student activist, a mass mobiliser, a great orator and the Public Relations Officer of the Students Unions.
“As an Alumnus, he assisted the Faculty of Arts in raising funds for a few projects that were of immense benefits to the staff and students,” the statement added.
A former presidential candidate and global energy executive, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has also expressed his deep shock over the death of the Afenifere spokesman, saying Nigeria has lost one of the greatest.
Olawepo-Hashim recalled that he met Odumakin 33 years ago when the deceased was PRO of Obafemi Awolowo University Students Union, while himself was the PRO of the Students Federation, National Association of Nigerian Students.
He added: “Yinka was always passionate with his point of view. He made his debut into partisan politics when he emerged as a spokesman for Buhari during the 2011 elections.
“He was passionate with Buhari’s cause when the General had very few friends in the South-west. He probably displayed the same passion against the General when he changed his perspective. That was vintage Yinka. Fortunately, Yinka and I had mutual respect for ourselves despite our sometimes diametrically opposed perspective,” he explained.
Olawepo-Hashim said another lover of freedom had departed this clime.