Nigeria: Yinka Odumakin - Voice for the Voiceless

12 April 2021

The news of the passing on of an irrepressible human rights activist and socio-political advocate, the genial Yinka Odumakin hit my nerves like a thunder bolt. It was Williams Shakespeare who said that death is a necessary end that will come when it will come. As much as I agree, I would not know why death decided to visit Yinka at a time he has more to offer his nation and mankind.

His honest deposition no matter whose horse was gored endeared him to many. He was a voice for the voiceless. At the Afenifere, where he played the role of a publicity secretary, he exhibited courage, forthrightness and excellent analytical mind in line with his mandate.

Yinka's achievements in nation-building are well documented. His pro-activist struggles date back to his student days. But he became a more prominent figure in his struggle to return Nigeria to democratic governance. As at a time many wished to remain in their comfort zone and to go where their bread was buttered, Yinka chose to be with the downtrodden masses who yearn for equity and justice in an egalitarian society.

Yinka's unparalleled efforts and that of others paid off when Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. Since Nigeria's return to democracy, Yinka's voice has been on the front burner on socio-political issues. He does not mince words on any issue. He served the Yoruba race with all his might. He says it as he sees it. Yinka was an uncommon Nigerian. As a columnist, he wrote on every issue.

His column was an extension of his activism. I read his column once and fell in love with it. Nigeria has lost a great gem. This could be seen from the outpouring of grief since his death. Some may misunderstand him as an ethnic jingoist. This is because he loved his Yoruba race and would do anything to protect it. He believed in the unity of Nigeria based on equity and even distribution of power.

He was one of those who believed that there is so such power at the centre and that the regions should be allowed some level of autonomy. His knowledge of the Yoruba politics is excellent. Another man who has an excellent knowledge of such native politics is Odia Ofeimun. Yinka, due to his real nature, was able to manage politics and activism and made the best of each. Yinka will not be easily forgotten and there is no doubt that his death is a big blow to Afenifere and the Yoruba as a whole. His truthfulness at times pitched him against some notable personalities in Yoruba land. But at all times, it is not difficult to know where Yinka belongs.

His beloved Nigeria is not where Yinka supposed her to be. There is no doubt that Yinka would have loved to see a better Nigeria. His dream of Nigeria was that of a happy and prosperous nation where one is not afraid of herdsmen, where Boko Haram is properly deradicalised, a pride of other nations. Sadly, Yinka did not get to see this before he boarded the flight to eternity. I have no doubt in my mind that the irrepressible spirit in Yinka will continue to fight for all these even in death. Chimezie Elemuo, Old Aba Road, Port Harcourt

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