By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
NIGERIA lost one of her best lovers, Mr Yinka Odumakin. by written and spoken word, Odumakin, a rugged pro-democracy activist, who died at 59, fought until his last breathe for a Nigeria that works for all Nigerians.
One way of doing this, he argued repeatedly, is to restructure the country, devolve power to the federating units and enthrone fiscal federalism.
For close to 30 years, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Political Science graduate was in the trenches with a host of other pro-democracy and human rights activists battling to save Nigeria, first from the murderous clutches of military rule, and later, to deepen and entrench democracy.
He teamed up with the Campaign for Democracy, CD, led by the late Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, in the 1990s to fight the military to a standstill, leading to the return of democratic rule on May 29, 1999.
Odumakin, alongside his wife, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, was one of the founders of the June 12 Stakeholders, which morphed to the June 12 Pro-democracy Movement that fought for the revalidation of June 12, 1993, the presidential mandate of late Chief MKO Abiola, which was annulled by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Military rule out of the way, Odumakin continued his crusade for a just and equitable Nigeria.
He succeeded Chief Ayo Opadokun as the national publicity secretary of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-Political and Economic organisation, Afenifere. He was a member of the 2014 national conference that made no fewer than 683 recommendations to save Nigeria.
The refusal of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration to implement the confab recommendations elicited sharp criticisms from the deceased activist.
Indeed, Odumakin was one of the fiercest members of the pro-democracy movement. He was always writing and granting press interviews on burning national issues.
Odumakin maintained a regular weekly column, ‘Candid Notes’ in Vanguard Newspapers and worked until he became very ill on March 10, 2021.
His last article, ‘Decoding the no flight zone’ was published on March 9, 2021.
In his column published on January 26, 2021, Odumakin warned that the country might become like many big countries that disintegrated, if not restructured.
Titled: ‘The last days of Nigeria?’, Odumakin said: “It’s only those who are too daft to read societies on anomic drifts that would not be able to decode that Nigeria as presently constituted is nearing its last days, the way Yugoslavia, USSR and other once-upon-a-time countries exhausted their possibilities and became history.
“If Nigeria fails to restructure as has been strongly canvassed and goes under in the alternative, President Muhahamadu Buhari may have the unenviable record of presiding over the liquidation of the country in its years of ‘change.’
“We pray the words of General Yakubu Gowon in 2011 at the peak of ‘monkeys and baboons being soaked in blood’ by supporters of Mr President are not fulfilled in the season of madness being foisted over Nigeria at a frenetic speed.”
In his second to the last article, ‘Republic of Bandits’ published on March 2, 2021, he said: “How fast a country can degenerate into a failed republic is presently playing out in a Nigeria that is tottering towards the edge, unhinged in the hands of leaders willing to do this without remorse.
The same people who were promoting change six years ago and their counterparts under the umbrella, including their soulmates who were pretending to belong to the clergy, are all out now with their daggers drawn to murder the country as fast as they could and unless the enlightened world rises in its self-interest.
But it might be too late to save Nigeria from one of the worst cataclysms that the world would have witnessed in recent times.”
With his expiration, Nigeria has lost one of those fighting for her survival. It is to be seen if Odumakin’s labours would be in vain or bear fruits.