I have asked a thousand times over, since I heard of your passage, that someone should tell me that this is a joke, that Yomi Dipo Fashina (DF) is not dead. But unfortunately, DF is no more and that is the plain truth. Death has stung and with it fangs has slew deep and plucked a young man in full prime. What makes it particularly painful was that Yomi’s death was uncalled for; he was strangled by the noose called Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“…DF died on Sunday 14th November, 2010, early evening hours, at a private hospital in Lagos. Yomi was on his way from Lagos on Tuesday 9th November when the bus in which he was travelling had an accident. He sustained several fractures in different parts of his body. Yomi went through indescribable pains but he bore them gallantly”, read the mail I received from our lecturer – Dr
DF was a journalist, in the Features Desk of the Nigerian Tribune, Ibadan. We made acquaintance in the graduate class of the department of Communication and Language Arts of the University of Ibadan. What really crystallised our friendship was a focus group discussion (FGD) we conducted together – Yomi, John, Folake and I. Combing Ibadan, fixing up FGD’s with mechanics, civil servants and undergraduates, Yomi displayed a high level of intellectual grasp of the research and also a profound sense of humour.
Besides, I joined him in a brief stint in the Nigerian Tribune. Naturally we both were on the same desk. It’s no fallacy, but DF was the soul of that beat. My friend moulded words, turning them into beautiful prose. Many a times, we had to prepare the Features Xtra pages and this usually meant leaving the office late. While the tardiness that characterised those days always gave me danders, Yomi was perpetually serene. Though he shared my frustration, however his reaction always differed from mine. His ability to withstand harsh conditions is outstanding.
Our Master’s thesis was hinged on the same theoretical framework, though our focus differed. DF helped me to fully come to terms with the theory, after our mutual supervisor had laboured – unsuccessfully – to knock it into my head. Hand in hand we worked – scarping for literature for a relatively new theory; doing the field work; beating the deadline for the submission of our dissertation. And after all these, when it was time to reap the reward; death, mounted on a chariot, snatched Yomi away!
DF has joined the thousands of souls that the Lagos-Ibadan has speedily carried to their ancestors. How can it be that in 2010 it takes a record breaking three hours, if you are lucky, for a journey that should not exceed one and half hours? DF was murdered by the same people we have entrusted with our common good. All those who have choped the funds destined for the repair of this road, have Yomi’s bloods on their hands. The spill out of corruption is not just theoretical, it has practical repercussions. While we siddon look, expecting things to get better without lifting a finger to reverse them; we are only digging our graves. Yomi would have been alive if the craters in that road were filled. Yomi would not have gone if other road users were a bit considerate. Yomi would have stayed with us, with his laughter, if not for the recklessness of other drivers. And I would certainly not be writing a tribute, if that road was in perfect condition.
Yeye boy, what am I to do with your CV? How about your excitement of turning your hobby – photography – into a means of putting food on the table? Did you manage to save enough for the camera? You wanted to do a PhD, how come the dream should die so young and abruptly? Remember those rides home after work, with your unbeatable propensity to tune the dial to the highest volume? The yabs that I should install a proper juke box in the car and not to rely on the fickleness of FM stations? What are friends for…? But Yomi is no more to answer my queries.
I cannot demur with our teacher and friend, Dr Ayobami Ojebode; “I am sure Yomi has gone to be with his Lord, and he feels pity for all of us. I hope when it is my turn and your turn, those left behind will be able to say that they knew we have gone to be with the Lord. Now is the time to be sure. I have no more to say for now.” Rest in peace my dear friend from a different mother. Your death hurts, but who dares takes war to God’s house?