It was Billy Graham who said that “no matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still comes as a shock, and it still hurts very deeply” (Billy Graham in brainyquotes.com). The death of Comrade Yinka Odumakin – a true patriot, a dogged pro-democracy activist, a humane human rights fighter, a strong advocate of good governance (in which the reign of justice and equity constitutes its solid foundation), and the national publicity secretary of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation Afenifere – undeniably ‘hurts very deeply’, as its announcement on Saturday, 3 April 2021 sent deepest shocks to those who heard it.
As we know, the Christian Holy Saturday by its very nature is non-boisterous and gloomy. As a carry-over mood from Good Friday, Christians all over the world observe a mourning mood as the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is still in the grave. This was the prevailing mood when the news of the death of Comrade Yinka Odumakin came in last Saturday, 3 April 2021. ‘Whaaaaa…t?’ was the initial reaction. Despondency and deep sadness then set in.
Consequently, many things went through my mind. First, was the fact that the world of true progressive minds (that struggle for a just society in our very unjust one) is not only in pain and crying, but is indeed mourning broken-heartedly. The weeping by true progressive minds (not its charlatans) has been inconsolable since last Saturday. Secondly, the thought of what will become of Nigeria without Yinka Odumakin’s strong voice resonated quickly in my mind. Yes no one is indispensable we always say, but we cannot deny that people truly feel the absence of a constructive person in their midst. Comrade Odumakin was truly a constructive pillar in the building of just, peaceful, united and stable Nigeria. Thirdly my mind quickly concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has done its worst in a country that needs this dogged fighter to be alive and help shape with bright ideas its future political direction.
Aside from all these, the loss of Comrade Odumakin hurts very deeply because at 59 years old, he would still be considered very young (even when his accomplishments are ‘longer’ than his age) because he would still also have many more years to offer active and fruitful service to his beloved family and the Yoruba ethnic group in particular, and to Nigeria in general.
Again, his death hurts very deeply because his ever enthusiastic media audience would miss him more painfully. It is a fact that when his name got announced as a speaker in a television discussion programme for example, it was very compelling for many of us to adjust our activities to listen to him. Indeed, he was a delight to many of those who listened to him on the future direction for a progressive Nigeria.
But let us not forget that many of those who profit from the prevailing injustice in our governance system would have a different view. This is even the more reason why missing a strong voice of his, hurts very deeply – for he was a reliable fighter. But it is still again most painful and hurts very deeply that he died not seeing a glimmer of hope of a restructured and just country of his dream.
For many, Nigeria of our dream is yet to be attained, and so the struggle for a just society through good governance activism is still a long way project for many progressive people like Comrade Odumakin. When he joined the struggle for good governance and a just Nigeria (through pro-democracy and human rights activism), many years ago things were not as bad as they are today. One can imagine the frustration of such a progressive mind when helplessly down on a hospital bed watching the steady deterioration of insecurity all over Nigeria. It hurts very deeply that he would be in such painful reflective mind when death struck. The only consolation here is that his death came exactly during a weekend that marks the final defeat of death by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This indeed is the only big consolation for those who are hopeful of eternity with the risen Lord.
In conclusion, it is difficult to summarise the quintessential character of this great man of progressive nationalistic ideas whose true convictions about how to make Nigeria great will continue to resonate for decades (if not centuries) to come. A quick and limited random search of how some notable political figures reacted immediately to the announcement of his untimely death on Saturday, 3 April, yielded the following:
President Muhammadu Buhari, described as dutiful, and a person of conviction, while former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar described him as a patriot and strong believer in the promotion of good governance, democracy and the rule of law. For Pa Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere leader), his death is too heavy to bear. The Ooni of Ife Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11 described Comrade Yinka Odumakin as an unforgettable patriotic descendant of Oduduwa and a positive factor in Nigerian democracy.
Furthermore, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State described him as a great patriot and champion of democracy and independent thought, a consummate nationalist who strived for a greater Nigeria. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State said that Odumakin lived a selfless life, and that he would not be forgotten in a hurry. The former Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko described him as a true patriot. For more on these, see TVC News of Saturday 3 April 2021 (see for example: https://www.tvcnews.tv/photos-friends-afenifere-mourn-yinka-odumakin/).
For sure, history will be very kind to the memory of Comrade Yinka Odumakin. It is our prayer that the Almighty God will console his beloved wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin and family. May his gentle Soul rest in perfect peace, Amen