Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, shed tears uncontrollably while paying tributes to his organisation’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, on Thursday.
Adebanjo wept when he joined other dignitaries at lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs held on Thursday at Police College, Ikeja as parts of the funeral rites for the late activist, who died at 54 on April 2 in Lagos State.
Adebanjo, who broke the barrier of culture to attend the funeral rites, urged human rights activists to continue in the spirit of Yinka Odumakin, by being courageous and fearless if they truly love the deceased.
“I am not God, I am a human being. There is nothing impossible for God to do but as a human being, I will say it will be difficult to replace Yinka. Where can we find a young man of his age, not materialistic pursuing a cause he believes in selflessly, courageously, relentlessly and consistently? Yinka, God knows you are a blessing to Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking in tears, Adebanjo added, “It is not easy to talk about Yinka. Yinka is an irreplaceable material. Why should I be here? You can’t question him, leaving a man of 93 to take a man of 55-years. God, you are omnipotent, please replace him quickly for us.”
On his part, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu charged politicians and members of the Civil Society Organisations, to uphold the legacy and struggle of the late Odumakin.
The Governor said, “Yinka was one-half of the most formidable couple that we have seen in our history and the other half is his beloved wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who now sadly has to continue this struggle without her husband, fellow comrade, and big friend that I know he is to her. My sister, you will continue to push on strongly in the trenches.
“We are passionate about what he believed in and what he stood for. He wanted the best for Nigeria. He wanted the best for his Yoruba nation but he was completely detribalised and he used his voice to advance the cause and the needs of the voiceless. Until the very end, he kept going.
“He kept speaking up, he kept working hard for a Nigeria that we all can be truly proud of. A Nigeria that will be land of justice, a Nigeria that will be fair, a Nigeria where equity would become the watchword, and a Nigeria that will truly reflect true modern federalism.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he left the Green chamber where he was presiding to pay last respect to the late Odumakin, who he described as “a man of courage, integrity, true democrat and a man who stood for truth and nothing else”.
The widow of the late Afenifere spokesman, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who described her husband as an “encyclopedia of positive activism” said the tributes by Nigerians will continue to embolden her to do more by continuing what her husband fought and stood for.
“One thing that will never make me break down is that his ideals will live forever; his legacy will remain. All that he has lived for remain. Yinka, you are not dead; you are alive, you will continue to live in our unconsciousness. And to live in the unconsciousness of the people is to live forever. Yinka Odumakin, my comrade lives on,” she said.
The lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs was attended by Mr. Tayo Ayinde, the Chief of Staff to Governor Sanwo-Olu; former governors –Mr. Peter Obi (Anambra), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), and Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), ex-Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; Pastor Ituah Ighadalo of Trinity House Church, Afenifere chieftains, politicians, and human rights activists among others.