I was on my way to the office on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, when I received the news of the sudden demise of Adeyinka Adeyemi, my dear friend, colleague, and officer of the Nigerian Army Corps of Signal (NAS). Yinka was a signal combatant who participated in the war against the terrorist insurgency of Boko Haram in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria. His death is a great loss to our country, the Nigerian Army, and his family and friends.
I have known Yinka since my undergraduate days at Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State. We received lectures together at the Department of History and International Studies. He was an intelligent and selfless colleague who sought the improvement of others above himself. He would stay up all night and wait after classes to help some of our colleagues with their assignments and term papers. Even when he struggled with his grades at some point, Yinka did not stop conducting extra classes. We disagreed many times about this approach because while I admired his selflessness, I thought that he needed to draw a line. But Yinka was unbothered by the risks involved. In his words,
“our God-given talent must be used generously to help others achieve their life goals and aspirations, irrespective of the odds.”
Yinka was a dependable colleague and highly-respected Students’ Union activist. He fought for the progressive cause and never wavered in his selfless pursuit of positive change. I still recall when he declared interest to vie for the Presidential seat at the Bowen Association of Humanities Students (BAHS) in 2016. His manifesto was centred on restoring the dwindling image of the Association through fiscal transparency and accountability, capacity building and seminars for students, and networking opportunities. Even with this impressive manifesto, Yinka willingly stepped down for another colleague- Akeju Bosun in our department who had a similar manifesto but stood a better chance of winning the BAHS election at the faculty level. He worked assiduously alongside other comrades to ensure that candidates from our department won at the polls – an unrelenting effort that earned me the Director of Finance seat. For Yinka, it was service above ambition.
Yinka was a compassionate being and a selfless patriot who sought to make a meaningful difference in our country. Moved by the unending displacement and killings of his fellow Nationals in the North-East, Yinka enrolled in the Nigeria Defence Academy. He chose to serve in the Nigerian Army because that was the most practicable route to help turn the tide, albeit positively, in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. I must say that Yinka had the opportunity to proceed after his Bachelor’s degree at Bowen University to work at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Nigeria and even at the head offices of certain international organisations. But he declined all these opportunities to serve his country on the battlefield. As his colleague, I was very critical of this move. I tried to persuade him to focus on other pathways after his initial unsuccessful attempt with the NDA entrance examination. I felt there were other ways his intellect and knowledge could better help our country in intelligence gathering and security. But the Yinka that I know was unruffled- he did not give up. He eventually got in and served meritoriously in the Nigerian Army Corps of Signal (NAS).
Yinka was a selfless, courageous, competent, and worthy Nigerian Soldier. He was a true Nigerian hero who won the respect and admiration of his peers and commanding officer throughout the war against insurgency. As a member of NAS, his effective, reliable, and speedy passage and reception of information were critical to series of successful operations embarked upon by our country’s troops. Yinka was passionate about fulfilling his lifelong dream of a peaceful, secure, and cohesive Nigeria. Sadly, he died while attending to some personal issues that kept him away from the field for months. I am saddened by his death which is so difficult to come to terms with. Not Yinka, not my friend. I am broken. I am so devastated. He did not deserve death, but a long life. He belonged to the rare pack that places ‘others’ above ‘self’, even at the expense of their lives.
Yinka has fought a good fight. He has departed to another realm to continue his great works. We should celebrate his short, but inspiring life. What we owe him is to remain committed to a life of selflessness, compassion, courage, perseverance, and sportsmanship. My thoughts are with his parents and family as they go through this very difficult period.
Yinka will be deeply missed. I have lost a friend, a patriot.
Tosin Durodola writes from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.