Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday led other dignitaries to honour the late spokesman of the Yoruba social cultural group, Afenifere, at a laying-in-state, service of songs and tributes programme held at Police College, Ikeja, Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu was joined by former Governors Peter Obi of Anambra State, Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) , Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Sen. Basir Ajibola, leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, leaders of Afenifere among others.
Sanwo-Olu donated N5 million towards the funeral.
The activist who died on April 3, 2021 was also the convener and leader of the pan-Nigerian pro-restructuring group, Core Federalists which played a big role at the burial.
Speaking to newsmen at the event, Bamidele, noted that restructuring, which late Odumakin stood and died for, was non-negotiable if the nation is to move forward.
Bamidele said: “Today, we are here to pay our respects to Yinka Odumain and, as far as some of us are concerned, there cannot be a better way to pay respect to him than re-emphasising the fact that Yinka lived for a cause.
“We must do everything possible to ensure that cause is not in vain. One of the things Yinka stood up for was the need to restructure Nigeria. As far as we are concerned, restructuring Nigeria is non-negotiable.
“We must have a security architecture and policing system that will reflect a restructured Nigeria.
“We must have an economic system and equality that will reflect restructuring of Nigeria. We definitely cannot run away from it. For me, the struggle continues.”
Also speaking, former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, said that the clamour for restructuring in Nigeria was necessitated by mis-governance of the country in the past.
According to him, late Odumakin fought for the good of the masses all through his lifetime.
Ikuforiji said: “Odumakin was not just fighting for restructuring, he was fighting against mis-governance.
“If Nigeria is properly governed at all levels, most of us will not be talking about restructuring.
“He believed the mis-governance should stop, he believed the injustice should stop.
“For all of us to have gathered here to celebrate a man who lived barely 55 years is to tell the world that he had done much more than what those who lived and doubled his age did for Nigeria.”
Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Civil Society, Mr Reid Adebor, described the late activist as a hero of democracy.
He said, “Yinka Odumakin shined the path of millions who were determined to make a change. Yinka was a fearless soldier who refused to bow to unjust society.
“He was a bull and a terror against injustice. He was an example of God’s creation who made a positive impact on the nation,” he said.
The event was graced by a host of civil society and ethnic nationalities groups, political stalwarts, lawmakers and many friends and acquaintances of the late Odumakin.
Making the donations known in a statement in Lagos, Secretary of the Planning Committee of the Civil Society and Pro-Democracy Movement Memorial Committee for the burial of Odumakin, Mr Bamiji Awa, said the governor also donated three buses, and an ambulance to the Odumakin solidarity memorial.
Awa said that the memorial was organised by the civil society and pro-democracy movement for the burial.
The remains of the late activist will be buried on Saturday at his country home, Moro in Osun State.
“The Lagos State Government has said they have specifically donated a sum of N5 million, three coaster buses, and one ambulance with heavy security back up toward ensuring success of the Solidarity Memorial initiated by comrades and associates of Yinka Odumakin.’’
He also said that Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) donated N150, 000, Femi Falana, N100, 000, Gbenga Hashim-Olawepo, N150,000, and Chief John Nwodo, N100,000.
Others are Alhaji Shettima Yerima, President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, N50,000, the Afenifere Renewal Group, N125, 000, Agnes Sessi, Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Lagos State, N30,000 and others.
“This is for the celebration and immortalisation of the life and legacies of the departed as announced by the Civil Society Planning Team for Yinka Odumakin memorial.”
According to Awa, the state government is in consultation with the family of the deceased on the appropriate support to be provided to them during the three-day burial activities.
According to him, the funeral activities of the late spokesman for Afenifere will take place between Thursday and Saturday.
He said that there would be lying-in-state at the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, between 11 a.m. and I p.m., while the service of songs and tributes would hold from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., same venue.
According to him, tributes’ session for the late activist will also hold on Friday at Oduduwa Hall, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Awa said that there would also be a candle light procession at 6 p.m. on Friday at Moro, Osun, adding that the procession would begin from Moro to Ife Grand Resorts, near Oduduwa University.
The rights activist said that the fraternal solidarity, night musical gyration and tributes would also hold at Ife Grand Resorts, near Oduduwa University, Ile-Ife from 8p.m. same day.
According to him, there will also be a Lying-in-State at Origbo Anglican Grammar School, Moro at 8 a.m. on Saturday followed by private interment at the deceased’s country home, Moro, at 10 a.m.
Also speaking the leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said getting a replacement for the late Yinka Odumakin, their former spokesman will be difficult.
The Yourba leader urged all to emulate Odumakin’s consistent life of selflessness and commitment to struggle for justice all his life.
Adebanjo said that late Odumakin’s quality was rare because he strongly believed in good cause and fought for it till his death.
He said: “As human, it is difficult to replace Yinka, but l pray God replace him for Nigeria.
“He was not a fake activist, but a true activist who believed in a good cause and true democracy. We are not gathered to mourn his age, but to celebrate what Yinka stood for.”
He urged other Nigerian activists to emulate the selflessness of late Odumakin.
The Afenifere leader, who said that he had long been standing for a united Nigeria and stood for it, called for a restructured Nigeria so that there could be unity.
According to him, those calling for restructuring are not calling for secession in the country.
“Those of us talking about restructuring truly want Nigeria to stay and be united.
“The suffering is much and if Nigeria is not restructured, we will continue to have more of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu,” he said.
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams, in his tribute, also described Odumakin as an irreplaceable great man, saying he had lost a friend in Odumakin.
Adams said: “Yinka has created a vacuum which I don’t think any other activist in Yorubaland can easily fill.
“We are talking of someone who has never been a governor, senator, even chairman of local government talkless of local government councilor, but have a glorious exit.
“We have the number one citizen of Lagos State here (Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu), number four in Nigeria (Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila), elder statesmen, serving senators, former governors and others.’
The Aare prayed God to grant him the kind of befitting burial Odumakin was being given.
He urged Nigerians to follow whatever good cause they believed in as Odumakin did and died for.
“When you are talking about true federalism, Yinka Odumakin was a great apostle. We have always been on the same page on ideology,” he added.