The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2020 Lagos East Senatorial District bye-election, Babatunde Gbadamosi, has asked politicians to stop pouring “empty encomiums” on the late activist and columnist, Yinka Odumakin.
Gbadamosi said instead of the outpouring of tributes in honour of the late vocal activist, politicians including the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; should address the issues raised by the late Odumakin.
Gbadamosi, also former governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Lagos State, stated this in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Monday.
The PUNCH had reported that Odumakin, who was the spokesman for pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, died on Saturday at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Covid Isolation Centre.
Gbadamosi described the late Afenifere spokesman as a great asset to Nigeria and humanity.
He said, “Mr Odumakin was a huge source of inspiration to those of us who are younger in terms of the Nigerian riddle and in terms of how to situate the Yoruba condition appropriately within the Nigerian conundrum. Unfortunately for all of us, God has decided that he had impacted enough, he had given enough of himself to us and it is time for the rest of us to carry the baton. He will be very missed. He was a great asset to Nigeria and to humanity but most especially to the Yoruba Nation. He will be very missed by all.”
The PDP chieftain also expressed his sympathy to the wife of the late activist, Mrs Joe Okei-Odumakin, adding that she will now have to speak for herself and her late husband in matters of governance.
“His lovely wife is still very much with us and suffice is to say that she is a very powerful voice in her own right when it comes to human rights issues. I am not necessarily saying that Mrs Odumakin will wear her husband’s shoes but now she will have to speak for two –for herself and for her late husband,” he said.
Gbadamosi slammed politicians showering encomiums on the late Afenifere spokesman, saying Odumakin would have described their tributes as “hypocrisy” were he to be alive.
“If they really want to pay tributes to him, they will address the issues that he raised besides just pouring empty encomiums that Mr Odumakin himself will have called hypocrisy.
“They (Politicians) should address the issues of true democracy, injustice, inequality, nepotism, dishonesty in public office, manipulation of the process, corruption in the entire political and administrative process in Nigeria. These are issues that Mr Odumakin raised all his life. These were things he fought for before he died. He fought for the enthronement of his entire life but the democracy he fought for has now been corrupted by some persons who now come out to pour encomiums on him,” the ex-governorship candidate stated.
Married to a fellow rights activist, Joe, in 1997, Odumakin’s voice was heard through the dark years of military despotism.
Odumakin played a major role in the National Democratic Coalition that fought the regime of late military head of state, General Sani Abacha, after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.
As Afenifere spokesman, Odumakin spoke tenaciously for the rights of the Yoruba and the people of the South-West geopolitical zone.
The late Afenifere spokesman, amongst other things, canvassed the ideas of restructuring, fiscal federalism, decentralised policing as solutions to the country’s socio-economic challenges.
Just before his death, he consistently condemned the activities of criminal Fulani herdsmen, who have been accused of farmland destruction, rape, killings and abductions in the South-West.