*Here lies Yinka that was speaking for Yoruba, Nigeria – Joe, widow
*Adebanjo: Deceased spoke truth to power despite odds
*Fayemi: He was unapologetic about Yoruba agenda
*Oyetola: Odumakin did not live wasted life
*Makinde: He lived for struggle
Ooni: Yinka was uncommon son of Oduduwa
By Shina Abubakar
Emotions flowed freely yesterday as Yinka Odumakin, the late spokesperson for Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-political group, was buried in Moro, his hometown in Osun State.
Friends from the media, his primary constituency, human rights activists, politicians and academia, among others, thronged Moro to bid farewell to an outstanding comrade, who many described as always “speaking truth to power”.
Until his death on April 3, Odumakin was also a columnist with Vanguard Newspapers.
In separate tributes, the deceased was described in glowing words.
The widow, Joe Okei-Odumakin, said her husband lived the last moment of his life fighting for a better country.
Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said the late Odumakin worked tirelessly for Nigeria, Yoruba nation and the programmes globally.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State said that despite their occasional disagreement, the late Afenifere spokesman never broke the cord of friendship established.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State said Odumakin lived a fulfilled life even as a young man while his Osun State counterpart Mr. Adegboyega Oyelola, stated that the deceased did not live a wasted life.
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi called the deceased an uncommon son of Oduduwa.
Yesterday’s event took off with the arrival of the corpse in a glass coffin at the venue for funeral service around 10:20am. The coffin was carried by pall-bearers dressed in traditional red and white attire while Yinka was dressed in wine dress with his Afenifere signature cap.
The widow, Joe, accompanied the body into the Origbo Anglican Grammar School field, venue of the service. With her was the President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke.
Joe took the pole position for the lying-in-state after which other family members followed suit. The gathering then joined in the procession.
Dignitaries at the occasion were led by Oyetola who entered the venue with Fayemi. The pair later received Adebanjo and Makinde.
Life of service
Bishop Wale Oke, in his homily, recited from the Book of Luke 43, 39-43 and eulogised Odumakin for not just living a life of service to humanity but also spending some of his time for his Creator.
The Ooni Ogunwusi led other dignitaries who paid tributes to the fallen activist. Ogunwusi, represented by Sooko Kemade Olagbaju, described Odumakin as an uncommon son of Oduduwa.
“You were not only a worthy son of the House of Oduduwa. You lived Oduduwa land. You breathed Oduduwa. You worked tirelessly for Oduduwa. Your insightfully penetrative perspective on Yoruba cause is uncommon. Neither is your incisively biting criticism of our steps, delivered impassionately”, he said.
‘Not a secessionist’
He also disclosed that Moro-Ife Road would henceforth be known as Yinka Odumakin Boulevard in honour of the late Afenifere spokesperson. A chamber the monarch is building inside OAU would also be named after him. Ooni presented a burst of Odumakin to the family, pledging that a bigger one would be built at the chamber at OAU.
Fyemi mounted the podium after Ooni and described the late Odumakin as a nationalist without question and a genuine Yoruba spokesperson, who, despite his commitment to regional autonomy, did not believe in secession.
“Even as Afenifere spokesperson, he was a democrat, he was a nationalist without question, he was never apologetic about the Yoruba agenda but he was not a seccesionist. He was always clear about the path to development and why regional autonomy offerd the best route to progress and development in our country”, the Ekiti governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum said..
“We must not succumb to the merchant of division, we must not succumb to the merchant of seccesion and in order not to succumb to the merchant of seccesion, we must not give them the justification for all they are doing to run this country down. That is what we can do to keep the memory of our brother alive”.
Oyetola said the late activist did not live a wasted live.
“We should rejoice, knowing Odunmakin has left for a better place. He has left for us on this side of humanity a legacy of inspirational service, fierce loyalty to the Yoruba race and relentless contributions to the quest for a greater nation”, the Osun governor said..
“He did not live a wasted life.
“He was an illustrious son of Osun and a man of deep conviction who constantly fought for what is right, just, and equitable. He simply lived for the people. He was a phenomenal leader, who, without holding public office, impacted us in unique ways”.
Makinde said Odumakin lived a fulfilled life even as a young man.
“I want us to take a lesson home, that a life lived on ideals, even if it does not have the trepid of fortunes or fame, will be a shining star, if it lived to light the path of others that are coming behind and that is what Yinka has done for this generation. The ideals he lived for, the struggle will always be a shining star for us untill we get a country that will work for all of us. Yinka has concluded his own bit and it is left for us all to continue the struggle”, he said.
Adebanjo, who could not control his emotion during his tribute, said but for an omnipotent God, he wondered why he is the one paying tribute to Odumakin, who was just 54 while he, an older man, still lives.
“It is so painful that I am a paying tribute to my grandson. It is against the culture of Yoruba land. Instead of him paying tribute to me I am paying tribute to him. Who am I to question God? God is powerful. How can he leave a man of 93 and take a man of 54, God does His work the way He likes, He knows why and how He will comfort us. Yinka spoke truth to power”, the Afenifere leader said.
“He did great works for Yoruba land, the progressives and Nigeria. He was a rare gem not common among this generation. Yinka was consistent in fighting for the underdog, against injustice, he was an Awoist to the core.
“Afenifere is mourning a tireless fighter for human right. He worked without receiving the reward. Yinka is gone but Afenifere will consistently be with his children. The prayer for Afenifere now is that God should quickly give us replacement particularly at this time when the country is burning. What he stood for was daring, he spoke truth to power-that-be”.
In her tribute, Odumakin widow, Joe Okei-Odumakin, described how her husband survived from a two-day coma after touring the country.
“I will not forget on a Sunday, December 8, 2020 after touring almost all parts of the country, he was here, in Osogbo with his driver, Wasiu, who called me that he was exhausted and, probably due to extreme fatigue, he collapse and bled till daybreak”, she stated.
“He lost about 16 pint of blood. It was a Sunday I can never forget. Governor Oyetola called me, the Chief of Staff to the Governor and the Chief Medical Director of the hospital also called, Yinka was in coma for about two days. But for God and all their intervention, Yinka did not lose his life that December.
“After receiving five pints of blood, he woke up and said he wanted to go and see Pa Adebanjo in Lagos and the state governor gave him an ambulance. It was after that short visit to Afenifere leader in Lagos that he returned to hospital to take 11 more pints of blood”.
After the tributes, the body was taken to his country home at Ewuru Street, around 2:30pm where only immediate family members, clerics and journalists were allowed to participate in the programme. His body was lowered into mother earth around 3pm after brief grave side burial rites.