Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin traversed courageously where men fear to tread. She remained
consistent without minding the hazards to her person in a society where critical
voices are loathed by unjust system which rewards the crook and punishes the just.
Dr. Joe was born in Zaria on July 4, she grew up in Ilorin and started her schooling at St. Barnabas Primary School, Ilorin where she obtained the first school leaving certificate. She thereafter moved to Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Ilorin where she passed her West Africa School Certificate. She pursued her A’ levels at the School of Basic Studies, Kwara State Polytechnic.
She later proceeded to the University of Ilorin where she got a BA.ED English and Education in 1987. She returned to the same school and bagged her M.Ed in Guidance and counseling and her Ph.D (History and Policy of Education) in 1996.
Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin has over 25years experience in human rights work in Nigeria. She cut her teeth in activism as the Secretary of Women in Nigeria (WIN), Kwara State from 1988 – 1991 and the Coordinator of Women in Nigeria (WIN), Kwara State branch 1991 – 1996; Chairperson, Rethink Nigeria (1987 – 1992) and Chairperson, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Kwara State branch (1990 – 1996).Her foray into human rights activism was at a period when the Babangida dictatorship was baring its fangs and locking up critical voices. She became one of the targets of the administration as she was arrested and detained for not less than seventeen times at different locations: Division B Police Station Ilorin; Police Headquarters Ilorin; SSS Headquarters Ilorin; SSS HQ Maitama Abuja; Panti Police Station Lagos; Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos; and Alagbon Close in Lagos.
But her spirit was not daunted and became the Assistant General Secretary of CD in 1994 at a time the battle against the annulment of June 12 had become so fierce.
She was the General Secretary of the body from March 1996 – July 29, 2006 (10 years) when she became the President on July 29, 2006. She is also the Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Democratic Studies, the President of Women Arise for Change Initiative; Chairman, Task Force of the Citizen Forum, Spokesperson, Coalition of Civil Society Organizations and President, Centre for Change in Community Development and Public Awareness(CDP).
She has received several awards at the national and international levels. Too numerous to mention some of which are:
In March 2007, the United Nations of Youth Nigeria gave her an award as the “Hero of Democracy and Good Governance”. In October 2007, she was given an award by Development Issues Initiatives Association (DINA) for her contribution to national development and human rights, the same October she was given an award by Human Rights Now as “The Defender women” In November 2007, Assemblies of God Church, Festac Town, Lagos gave her an award as the “Icon of Democracy” and in September 2007, the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ)
Oyo State Chapter gave her an award as “The Hero of Democracy”.
She also received an award in Imo State of Nigeria in November 2008 as “The Defender
of Women’s Rights” during the commemoration of Aba Women Riot.
August 19, 2008, she was authorized and commissioned to serve as an ambassador of Good will from Arkansas to the people of nations beyond the borders of the United States or wherever this Ambassador of Arkansas may hereafter travel or reside.
June 2, 2009, Encomium Magazine gave her an award in human rights advocacy. The same June, Tell Magazine honoured her as the “Hero of Democracy”.
In March, 2010 Rebrand Nigeria gave her an award as the “Hero of Democracy”. In May, CEPAN recognised her as an “Advocate for Good Governance”. Also in July, Good Shepherds Schools in Lagos gave her an award as the “Role Model of the Year award”. In September 2010 the Priceless Jewels Initiative gave her an award as the “Champion of Women Empowerment”. October 2010 “Beacon of Hope Award” given by Empower Africa for Change.
November 25, 2010 International Institute For Humanitarian And Environmental Law gave her an award in recognition of her selfless service.
Feb, 2011, Change Nigeria Today honoured as Amazon of Democracy. April, 2011, Women Democratic Frontiers recognised her as champion of Women cause, June, 2011 History and international Relations Students, Isolo, LASU gave her an award as icon of Democracy August 2011, Priceless jewels initiative honoured her as hero of Democracy.
In November 2011, Empower Africa for Change gave her another award as an “Ambassador of Goodwill”.
November 2011, National Association of Local Government students, Faculty of Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University presented an Award of excellence to her as Grassroot Advancement Women Ambassador.
In March 8, 2012 the West Africa Students’ Union (WASU) in recognition of her exemplary role in leadership enrichment and humanitarian services gave her the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award on Humanitarian Services/Icon of Hope.
Also on March 28th, 2012, the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) gave her an Appreciation Award for her contribution to workers education in Nigeria.
In the same month of March 2012, she received the prestigious Diamond Award which was presented to her by the Department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta in recognition of her selfless service and immense contribution to the development of the society.
On May 26th, 2012 the students’ Representative Council of Lagos State University gave her an award of excellence for her tremendous contribution to good governance in Nigeria.
Again on 7th June, 2012 upward BAO Consulting and young Voters Initiative Lagos Presented Dr. Joe Okei-odumakin with Excellence in Activism Award in recognition of her selfless service in Activism in Nigerian.
On June 16, 2012, she was given yet another award of exemplary service by Rotaract District 9110, for her commitment to the uplifting of humanitarian course and outstanding service towards national development.
July 7, 2012, Young Voters Initiative presented Excellence in Activism & Women Rights
Defender Award in recognition of her selfless service in Activism.
July 10,2012 National Union of Lagos State (NULASS) The polytechnic Ibadan gave her an award of excellence as the most outstanding activist of the year.
August 10, 2012, African Mouth Piece International gave her Role Model Award.
August 11, 2012 National Association of Ondo State students, the polytechnic Ibadan presented a merit award to her in recognition of her selfless service in activism in Nigeria.
October 23, 2012, Rotaract Club Egbeda District 9110, give her outstanding Humanitarian Award in recognition of her outstanding performance, exemplary leadership qualities and her commitment to grassroot development and her selfless service to the uplifting of humanity in general.
January 3, 2013 Eminent International Gold Award was presented to her by First Eminent Associates for her Activism and Heroism.
Her consistency and unwavering determination for survival of democracy in Nigeria made Professor Wole Soyinka to describe her as follows on 4th July 2006.
“I present to you a tireless fighter whose frail bearing, bellies an inner strength and resilience purpose, a veteran of affirmative marches, of crude arrests and detentions, baton charges and tear gas who have lent luster to the struggle for justice and human dignity, who remain an inspiration of men and women, old and young”.
And at the celebration of Ambassador Walter Carrington’s 80th birthday commemoration in Lagos, the Ambassador in recognition of her efforts in sustaining democracy in Nigeria described her as “a fearless, fiery champion of democracy and human rights”.