Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, wife of the late Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said, yesterday, that she wished her husband was alive to witness the glowing tributes poured on him, even by those he disagreed with.
While she said the passing of her husband was a shock to her, she noted that she was yet to get over it.
This came on a day the Pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, cancelled its monthly meeting, scheduled to hold in Akure, Ondo State, as a mark of respect for its deceased spokesperson.
Meanwhile, eminent Nigerians, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Southern Senators Forum, a leading Igbo think-tank group, Nzuko Umunna, and the Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, yesterday, paid glowing tributes to the late Odumakin, describing him as a positive factor in Nigeria’s democracy.
Joe, who spoke at her Lagos residence, expressed the belief that her husband would make it to heaven, as he was so much close to God, saying that was her only consolation.
“It would have been soothing if Yinka was around to see this. At times, we need to celebrate people when they are around; even if they will criticise what we have to say and refer to what they had written and said about us. People are following the trend of events and they will be the best judge,” she said.
Though we had differences, I respected him—Tinubu
Also the National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, visited the widow of the late Afenifere’s spokesperson at her residence in the Omole area of Lagos, to console the family.
Tinubu said though he had differences with Odumakin, he respected him till he died.
The APC leader, who visited the deceased’s home around 2pm and spent time consoling the wife, told her how much the late Afenifere chieftain was dear to his heart, saying that his death represented a big loss.
He told Odumakin’s widow to take heart, saying death was inevitable and that no matter the grief, nothing could bring him back to life again.
Speaking with reporters later, Tinubu said: “He (Odumakin) contributed to constitutional democracy of this country, no matter which side you are. We were together struggling for the actualization of June 12. They mean so much to me. He, Tokunbo Afikuyomi and many of them.
“Even if we had differences at a later stage, that was after we had gotten the military out of power. We were in AD together. He matters to me a lot and I respect him, which is what I have shown.”
Afenifere cancels meeting
Meanwhile, Afenifere has cancelled its monthly meeting, expected to hold in Akure, Ondo State at the residence of its former National Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti
In a statement by its Assistant-General Secretary, Mr. Adeleke Mabinuori, Afenifere said the meeting for Tuesday 6th April has been cancelled.
The statement reads: “I have been directed by the acting leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo to inform you that the Afenifere meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 6th April 2021, is cancelled.
“This is in honour of the late Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin. Please await further directives.”
Odumakin was a dogged fighter—Ooni of Ife
However, glowing tributes continued to pour in for the late Afenifere spokesman.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi, in his tribute, described late Odumakin as an unforgettable patriotic descendant of Oduduwa and a positive factor in Nigeria’s democracy.
The Ooni, in a condolence message by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, said: “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 unbeatable fact about this great patriot is that he served the Oodua race incorruptibly till his death. He enhanced Nigeria’s democracy through his countless calls and actions for justice and equity. He was a blunt dogged fighter who never compromised his struggle for the betterment of his Oodua race and that of Nigeria for personal friendship.
“One of the good traits of this unique man is his consistency while calling for a fair and just society either in his capacity as an ever-proud comrade or the spokesman of the prominent Afenifere.
“As a disciplined caller for a perfect democratic Nigeria, he did not miss personal opinions and sentiments with his activities towards nation-building. A clear example was his repeated criticism of some policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government despite having a good relationship with the president who described him (Odumakin) as a great patriot.
“Oodua race indeed lost a hero. His shocking death has left us with the great challenge of continuing in the pursuit of a better society for all, we must sustain and strive for a better democracy and realize the most-cherished vision of the late Odumakin which is a greater Nigeria for all.”
Southern Senators mourn Odumakin, Chukwuma
Similarly, the Southern Senators Forum, yesterday, described the demise of Odumakin and founder of the CLEEN Foundation, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, as devastating and saddening, taking cognisance of their immeasurable contributions to the growth of democracy in the country.
The forum, in a statement by its Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, said: “Yinka Odumakin’s death rendered many of us distraught and spellbound. We were rattled going by his well-defined roles in the growth of the country’s democracy, where he made his voice loud and clear at every chapter of its evolution.
“To some of us who grew with him while in the trenches, we knew Yinka as a firm and resolute man while fighting for a course. He knew how to demarcate spiritedly between what the masses desire and the interest of the few.
“With this death, it was clear that the country has again lost one of her best brains among its priceless egg-heads.”
Also mourning the late Chukwuma, Bamidele said the activist was exemplary in his detribalistic posture with the way he related with people seamlessly across ethnic lines.
He said: “Comrade Chukwuma was a perfect example of a true Nigerian. As a young man, who cherished a bright future for Nigeria, he was one of the few youngsters that formed the CLO, a firebrand pro-democracy group that was pungent and caustic in its criticism of the military regimes.
“Chukuma was vehemently opposed to oppression, poverty, imperialism, deprivation and that reflected in the operations of his CLEEN Foundation, which he formed in his latter days to advance the course of the common men.”
Nigeria has lost a bridge-builder—Nzuko Umunna
Also, the Nzuko Umunna has described the death of Afenifere spokesman, Mr. Odumakin, as a huge loss to Nigeria because of his efforts to unite the country.
Lamenting that “the bridge builder is gone”, Nzuko Umunna, in a joint statement by its Coordinator and Secretary-General, Mr. Ngozi Odumuko and Dr. Paschal Mbanefo, said it received with shock the news of Odumakin’s death.
The statement reads: “Yinka, as being testified by many Nigerians, was a progressive and great activist, who always stands for the rights of the people.
“To us in Nzuko Umunna, Yinka was a great partner and bridge who continued to play a key role in strengthening the bond and unity of the Igbo and Yoruba. It would be recalled that he was a key player in the maiden Handshake across the Niger initiative which has culminated to a formidable alliance amongst the people of Southern Nigeria.”
N-Delta has lost a strategic partner —Evah
On his part, the coordinator of the IMG, Comrade Joseph Evah has described the late Odumakin as a strategic partner in the Niger-Delta people’s struggle for equal rights and justice in the Nigerian project as well as the struggle to save Nigeria from undemocratic forces.
In a condolence message, Evah said: “Comrade Odumakin came at the right time but left at the wrong time. The sad news was like an earthquake with unspeakable sadness across the country. The reactions show he was truly loved by Nigerians for his patriotic spirit. I wish to appeal to all those in the struggle for true federalism and genuine restructuring agenda of Nigeria which was one of the main dreams of Odumakin to keep hope alive and work harder to actualize the dream to make Nigeria great again.”