A former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, has given insights into his relationship with the late spokesman for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin.
Agbaje, in a tribute to Odumakin, ‘A Samurai of the struggle’, explained how the deceased fell out with former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.
He said the deceased, who passed away in April, moved with the high and mighty, however, if there was any compromise on principle and agreed goals, Yinka was quick to tell them off.
The businessman recounted that his paths crossed with Odumakin's in 1998, just before the beginning of the fourth republic and they built a close relationship which made him (Agbaje) appoint Odumakin the Director-General of his campaign team when he decided to run for Governor of Lagos State in 2007.
Agbaje noted that he had sought the counsel of the incumbent, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to know if there was any serious objection to his aspiration in the party.
He said he was given a go-ahead and had started the rigorous work of campaigning before Tinubu rescinded on his words. Agbaje said a change in this initial plan pitted Odumakin against Tinubu.
He wrote, “What manner of man did God give us in Yinka, son of Odumakin? Unlike many mortals made of topsoil dust, Yinka appeared to have been fashioned in the depths of the earth from gold dust. He was such a dynamic person.
“Odumakin’s network of connections was as formidable as his knowledge of all. Governors formed his retinue of friends. So were electoral officials and security agents. Ditto journalists. So were civil society aficionados. He befriended the drivers of his friends and the friends of his drivers.”
“Any wonder, over the years, at his on and off relationships with President Buhari, former Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Afenifere Renewal Group and so many more.
“Having decided to run for office in 2007, I informed Asiwaju Tinubu of my intention. I felt it proper to ask the incumbent and leading party member if there was any serious objection to my aspiration. I was not asking for endorsement, only a level playing field to be provided for the party primaries.”
Agbaje said Tinubu assured him that one legacy he would want to leave was to hand over to a successor that was the party’s choice and ultimately the choice of the people of Lagos State in free and fair elections.
“We, therefore, started the rigorous work of campaigning in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Weeks before the primaries, Yinka then informed me that Asiwaju had walked back on his commitment to a level playing field for all aspirants. He had now decided on a preferred successor and asked other aspirants to step down.
“I had personally gone too far to withdraw and told Yinka I would understand his leaving my campaign because of his close relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Yinka looked me straight in the face and spoke for like 15 minutes. The summary of his statement was that he was his own person and nobody, however powerful, could change him from a course he believed in.
“He told me I was free to sack him but assured me that even if I did, he would not work with Asiwaju. I want to believe that was the first major fallout Yinka had with Asiwaju. Yinka gave his ALL to that campaign and I never had any reason to doubt his commitment, loyalty, and financial transparency,” Agbaje wrote.
The businessman also revealed the response of the wife, Joe, when she received the news that her husband of over two decades was no more.
“Yinka could not have died now. That was not the plan. Yinka had only achieved 1% of what he planned to do. This was not our understanding,” the activist was quoted as saying.
Agbaje noted that Joe and Yinka believed that only 1% of their plan for a better Nigeria had been achieved.
He said since Odumakin's demise, there has been an avalanche of commiserations from those who knew the relationship he had with Yinka Odumakin.