Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has described the death of Yinka Odumakin as the “departure of a bright star”.
Odumakin died of COVID-19 complications at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
In a statement on Saturday, Tinubu said Odumakin, who was the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, has been “fearless and unrelenting” in promoting the cause of justice since he was a student.
The former Lagos governor described how Odumakin actively took part in the fight to restore democratic rule to Nigeria.
Tinubu said the story of the “emergence of democracy” in Nigeria cannot be told without including the feats of Odumakin.
He said: “Like millions of Nigerians, I received with profound shock the news of the death early this morning of Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of Afenifere, committed fighter for democracy, dedicated civil society activist, courageous and outspoken defender of whatever ideals and principles he believed in.
“He participated actively at the forefront in the various students and youth struggles against successive military dictatorships in the 1980s and 1990s. In the process, he was arrested, harassed and even detained several times. Yet, he never allowed himself to succumb to tyranny or be pressured into submissive and pliant silence.
“In the struggle against the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election and the perpetuation of military dictatorship, Odumakin was never found wanting. He was at the vanguard of the battle even at the risk of his life and liberty. It is impossible to credibly tell the story of the emergence of the democracy we enjoy in this dispensation today without emblazoning Odumakin’s name in gold. He was a doughty fighter for freedom and the rule of law.
“Odumakin never held public office. But he has been a constant feature and part of our public consciousness over the last two decades of this unbroken democratic dispensation. He epitomized the true definition of the citizen; a patriot who was ever conscious of the fact that his life could not be complete or his humanity meaningful if he did not take an active interest in and join likeminded fellow citizens in seeking always to promote the common good of his community and country.
“In the course of the last two and a half decades, Odumakin and I had cause to collaborate in various organizations and in pursuit of different political causes at different times and I can testify to his capacity for hard work, his brilliance, his tenacity in his loyalty to his cherished principles. Even if we differed politically, I had no cause to doubt his sincerity in charting his chosen path.”
Tinubu said Odumakin will forever remain a model of what “a citizen who places the good of his country above his personal interest could be”.
“His life vividly demonstrates once again, in the immortal words of Chief Obafemi Awolowo that ‘it is not life that matters but the courage you bring into it’ and that it is not how long we live but how well and productively that matters. Odumakin is gone. But he lives on in the memory of millions of his compatriots,” he said.
Tinubu added that Odumakin was “rock solid” in his commitment to Afenifere, the Yoruba people, and the civil society groups in which he played active roles.