The leader of the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana,SAN; and pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church, Tunde Bakare, were among prominent Nigerians who extolled the late spokesperson of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, at the first anniversary of his demise, on Friday.
Others who made glowing statements on Odumakin at the first anniversary of the Yinka Odumakin Lecture and book presentation, held in Lagos, were a former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, and lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN, Adebanjo praised Odumakin for his relentless efforts in the fight for restructuring Nigeria. He said Odumakin’s contributions to the restructuring should make Nigerians continue to demand the restructuring of the country.
Adebanjo stressed that there was no need to talk about the elections without first tackling the issue of restructuring because it would lead to continuous systemic failures in the country. He emphasised that Nigeria must be rescued from bad leadership through the ballot after the restructuring process has been executed.
In a similar vein, Falana described Odumakin as a “relentless fighter” who did not hesitate to bring social political issues to the front burner.
Falana, who spoke extensively on constitution amendment, restructuring, and the pardon of “the political friends” of the President, said “the rulers are interested in continuity of injustice and corruption. They are pardoning themselves.
“All criminals and petty thieves in our prisons should be released on the basis of equality. Section 42 of the constitution guarantees equity and justice, and this must be achieved and must be seen to be done by the Federal Government.”
Meanwhile, Bakare described Odumakin as “the most courageous friend I have ever had, since we met years back.”
Bakare said Odumakin constantly worked in defence of human rights so much so that he never had a holiday. He also said that he remained loyal to friends despite the differences that he had with them.
Olumide-Fusika said, “Odumakin was committed to the cause of social justice. Although his resilience was questioned by those who did not even contribute anything to the growth of the country, he was unperturbed by those vicious comments.”
Fusika, who was the book reviewer for Odumakin’s biography titled, Comrade, said that the book not only tells the story of how he met his wife in detention for his activism, how he was influenced by Chief Gani Fawehimi but also speaks deeply to the values and perspectives that Odumakin held on nation-building.
He also said that Odumakin had warned some of his friends about the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) during the 2015 campaign, saying, “ by the time he (Buhari) finishes Nigeria, you will not recognise Nigeria again.”
Yinka Odumakin was until his death the National Publicity Secretary of the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere. The activist and politician was a member of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which fought against the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha, after the annulment of the June 12 elections. He was married to fellow activist, Mrs Joe Okei-Odumakin.
Odumakin and his wife were among the 492-member 2014 National Conference held in Abuja, where restructuring was mooted by the conference. He was also a known critic of Buhari’s government in 2015.
It was earlier reported by The PUNCH that Odumakin died due to COVID-19 complications on April 3, 2021. His wife and family founded the Oluyinka Odumakin foundation in July 2021 to preserve his memory and legacy.