Abuja airport. 2010.
I was sitting by a bar nursing a bottle of soda and fuming.
My flight has just been postponed.
An un identified call came in.
I picked and shouted a rude yes into the phone.
Then the voice said I’m looking at you .
Can I approach?
I said who’s this ?
He said you’ll see.
Then he came out of the crowd .
He stretched his hand and said
I’m Yinka Odumakin.
I said it’s an insult to introduce yourself.
Who does not know your face in Nigeria?
We both burst out laughing.
Ambassador Walter Carrington ,
A deity of American black movement
And a warrior of June 12, when he served as America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, was turning a graceful 80.
FASHOLA’s Govt wanted to honor him with a 3-day birthday package.
YINKA was Commissioned to write a book on him, to be launched.
I was commissioned to do a documentary on his life journey
To be projected at the State Banquet.
YINKA approached me at the airport that day because he needed photographs
Of the Carringtons to enrich his book.
He requested for 3 pictures or so.
I took his email.
By the time his flight landed in Lagos
My GM had sent him 200 photographs.
He opened the phone and shouted back to me
Baba dudu e fe pa mi !
We both laughed.
It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted till his last day.
2011, 12 midnight , I was in my Eleko beach house.
Babadudu, I want to introduce you to BUHARI.
Get to Abuja by 8am, I’ll send the address.
Come with a proposal for the Buhari/Bakare campaign adverts and documentaries.
But YINKA this is past midnight , how do I get to ASOKORO by 8am ???
BUHARI doesn’t like late comers, he replied, 8am and clicked off.
It was a very intense period for DUDU Productions.
We were producing campaign stuff for various Governors and other.
Politicians contesting from various parties. We were so saturated, I had moved my postproduction gears and editors to the beach house. That ambience always geared them into new energy.
My second son, LEKAN , also an editor , drove me to the airport by 5am.
We were both dozing and missed our way on the 3rd mainland bridge.
I got to ASOKORO, 5 minutes to 8 am.
On the dot of 8, BUHARI came down the stairs in jalabia.
YINKA introduced me and we moved to the dinning table.
Along with other members of the publicity committee.
I got the job.
As I left for the airport , ,I asked YINKA two questions
Why were so many Agbadas spread on the grass in the compound
In a house in ASOKORO!
He told me they belong to BUHARI.
The man does not use Drycleaner!
After my concepts were modified and accepted I noticed that as we started talking about money and people started contributing on the table ,
Buhari picked up his newspapers and was reading till I left . Why?
YINKA told me the man had no money of his own.
The house was donated , the vehicle fleet was donated.
A man who had headed Nigeria , NNPC , Governor , Minister !!!
That moment I decided to support this man forever.
Who would have foreseen the rot of today!
BUHARI/BAKARE campaign took Nigeria by storm.
It was a fait accompli. The country was ready for this dream ticket.
We worked like crazies.
Suddenly a couple of weeks to election , rumors were circulating inhouse.
TINUBU was going to work against the ticket.
I could read devastation on the faces of YINKA and the inner caucus of the team.
Election Day, BUHARI lost.
I laid down broken and watch Buhari weep on live TV
With a promise never to contest again .
I knew the man wept because of a deep sense of betrayal.
I might be wrong ,
But I think this is the genesis of YINKAs hatred for TINUBU till the last day!
My brotherhood with YINKA was forged out of the ashes of that season of anomie. Memories. Memories.
How he visited my beach house , fell in love with the serenity, bought the plot a few spaces from mine and started building an event center and home on it. How he brought his wonderful kids and introduced me to one of the most accomplished, but humble women I’ve ever met. His wife, Dr Okei Odumakin.
I have memories of how YINKA invited me to his house in Accra Ghana and I spent a wonderful week with him. Driving to Legon, where he was doing his masters. To the Gold mine , he wanted to invest in. Night life Accra.
With YINKA , there was no talk of latest music , fashion, or parte after parte.
It was always Nigeria/ Yorubaland. Nigeria/Yorubalnd.
We would debate until my head will start hurting.
Fast forward , 2015. YINKA came. DuduBaba, I have a bombshell!
He let me in on the fact that he’s been secretly working on what he called
THE THIRD FORCE !
A formidable pan Nigeria political mass movement
that will bury the dominant political parties and redefine Nigeria’s destiny.
Then he dropped the bomb shell . The TINK TANK of THIRD FORCE was going to meet. And he was determined , to keep it out of press entirely. A super secret meet to weld it together.
And he has chosen my country home in Abeokuta, as the venue of the 3 day conclave. Whaaaat! . YINKA but you know I’ve sworn never to be involved in politics forever. Babadudu, this is not politics. This is rescuing Nigeria.
When is the meeting? Two days time. You didn’t warn me in time. Yes it must not leak. OMG!
Truly , two days later, they came . checking into Hotels across Abeokuta.
From Niger Delta, Middle Belt, far North, the East, across the Nation.
My home the venue of the meet was full. For 3 days , I listened to the most impassioned emotions about the waste this Nation has become. I listened to high faulting ideas as to how Nigeria can truly become the giant in the sun it’s destined to be.
More importantly, it was actually an expose to me of what a political force and a potent bridge builder YINKA ODUMAKIN was.
He made me attend Afenifere elders meeting in Pa Ayo Adebanjo country home in Ijebu area. First time I will see these leaders in person apart from Okunroumu. The most virulent anti Fulani sentiments I ever heard. And the most deadly evidence of how Fulani we’re moving weapons into Yorubaland. The Elders had foreseen today!
Then the mega meeting in Pa Adebanjo home in Ikoyi. Former ministers, Governors, creme of Nigeria’s recent but sad political history. Mostly of the PDP stock. Gen Nwachukwu, Jang, Mimiko, Ajumoghobia, reps of ethnic movements etc. I was aghast. How can we create a third force with spent forces? I moved my chair close to Segun Odegbami , who was essentially an audience like me.
Has the THIRD FORCE been high jacked or this was the intended destination ? I could not fathom. Then I detected the under currents. This house was being prepared for Atiku! So it was a case of your Fulani is better than my Fulani? I walked out and never returned. When Afenifere later declared publicly for Atiku against Buhari and the avalanche of condemnation started , I just bought my Ofada and smiled.
How did I come about the title of this post?
In the last few years I began to disagree seriously and publicly with Afeniferes politics. And since YINKA was its spokesperson , so I was engaged in direct criticism of his press releases.
There was this particular article he wrote. A blistering condemnation of a top Yoruba leader. I felt he had crossed the line. So I requested we meet.
I was vibrating and vituperating. He looked at me dead pan. No expression .
Then he stood up and said.
EVERYBODY GET E OWN WAKA!
I’ve always been amused when the public say Yinka was a hungry man , that’s why he was writing stuff. Nooooo sir, YINKA ODUMAKIN was a highly comfortable and successful man. He had investments in mining , agriculture, digital press, Radio and a lot of intellectual stuff
YINKA was one of the most dedicated , most profound Nigerians this country is blessed with. He was a lighting iron rod for Yoruba aspiration. Across Yorubaland and Nigeria , many households are in mourning. People you will never publicly associate with his name. People like the OONIRISA , Aare Gani ADAMS, who were very close confidantes to him .
This is the longest I’ve ever written about anybody.
My condolences to Okei. You are woman of steel. Take out of the well of kindness you have always dashed to grieving hearts.
The Lord you serve , will stand solidly with you and yours.