•What He Told City People Before He Died
Not many people know that the late Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin resolved his bitter rift with former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo before he died. They did. And City People can authoritatively reveal details of their reconciliation as revealed by Odumakin.
What happened is that months before he died, Odumakin in an exclusive interview with City People revealed how he and OBJ ended their rift. So bitter was Odumakin then that he published a book as a reply to OBJ’s 3 Part Autobiography, Under My Watch.
How did they resolve it, City People asked Yinka Odumakin? In this his unpublished interview which you will find here, Yinka explained that after appeals from well meaning Nigerians, he decided to reconcile with Baba.
“Well, it is interesting. I remember how a friend of Chief Obasanjo and I, saw us and said, Segun, between you and Yinka, what is going on here? He noticed we were not talking to ourselves. And he said something very profound. He said, if you live long enough, your enemy will become your friend. In all honesty, there is nothing personal between us. It was about our differences on major issues”.
“It was about national issues. Its about principles. We can’t do things this way. We have always known that a time will come when our best will put heads together to salvage the situation”.
“Sometime in 2018, the former President said he wanted to see me.
“That is ex-President Obasanjo. And I consulted with my leaders. They said I should go. I went to see him not knowing what will happen. When I was going I took one or 2 of my friends along with me and someone was with them.”
“As we entered the room where he was seated and he saw all of us. He said, all of you, I didn’t invite you, It is only Yinka that I invited ooo. It is only Yinka that I prepared lunch for.
That was it. I was already rehearsing what will happen, that maybe he will even punch me or something. But he was so friendly. I quickly relaxed as we exhanged pleasantries.”
“I told him sir, we need to talk about what had happened between us in the past.”
“He said what was that. He said something funny, that made me think. He said if you don’t have something in your head you cannot disagree with somebody like us. He said please, let us leave all that.”
“He said that is not why he has called me. He started to tell me why he called me. Lo and behold, I started to see him in a different light that very day because all along most of the issues had been okay, he did this. Or he did that. When he was President and he had talks with Afenifere that was the 1st time I will say I saw him.
Interestingly, the 1st time I met Obasanjo, would be when I was a Journalist with The Punch Newspaper. Chief Adebayo Adetunji, his friend, was just given a national honour that day and they were having a reception for him at The Sheraton Hotel. Obasanjo was the Chairman of the occasion. After the event, they were having dinner and Obasanjo was greeting everybody, table by table. And he came to my table. And he greeted me, Oga Journalist, you don’t want to greet me. You don’t want me to share in your food. I looked at him. He said were you not given Emu to drink? That is Obasanjo for you. That was my 1st close contact with him. Like I explained, most of the impressions I had about him were nothing personal.”
“They are based on the fact that they said he did this or he did that”.
“So on that day, we spoke at length and we continued after, we discussed about issues. Since that day nothing has come up about what happened in the past anymore. And our reconciliation was the beginning of the larger reconciliation with the Afenifere, as a body.”
“Because it was after that reconciliation that he decided to come to Chief Ayo Adebanjo’s house with a lot of Yoruba leaders in attendance.”
“It was a historic reconcilation. Since then, it has been a warm relationship. Beyond my own, many people are surprised that Obasanjo and Papa Adebanjo can now be relating. But it is about issues. There is nothing personal to it. We disagreed in the past only about issues.”
“It was where we are, how to salvage our land and save our country. That should tell you that if our disagreements were personal, it would not have been easily resolved. Not many people would have been able to predict that when many people who are expected to speak up are not with you or are silent, that the voice you are hearing loud and clear is Obasanjo’s voice. Who would have believed a time will come that Obasanjo will align with the views of Afenifere? Today, he has become a strong positive factor in our history. At the moment where we are being pilloried here and there, he has become one of the strong and major voices you can rely on. I think it is God that ended the rift because if someone had told me that Gen. Obasanjo and I will become friendly I will have said maybe in another life time.
The lesson I have learnt is that you can never write off anybody. You can never say something is impossible or it is not possible.”
“I appreciate the opportunity of getting close to him. I have come to see him closely and to see his strenghts – like the kind of efforts he puts into what he does, the kind of rigorous meetings he holds, the kind of energy he puts into his writings, his level of writings. He is always awake up to 2am or 3am. I remember sometime last year we travelled to Bayelsa together That night he went to visit former President Goodluck Jonathan. We came back, from his place around 2am or 3am. We went to bed. By the time I got up in the morning around 8am, Obasanjo was already in the hospital doing his medical check up”.
“You can talk to this man now in Abeokuta, then the next minute he is in Kano or Abuja or he could be in Moscow. Haba! When did you go? The last time I called him, I asked him, Baba where are you? He said I am in Casablanca. He is full of raw energy and the commitment he puts into everything he believes in. So, we are all human. We have our weaknesses. But he has great strengths, which he is deploying to positive causes at this age and time of his life. It is a good development”.