As year 2011 rolls by, heavy rains are still to be experienced in Nigeria. Meteorological reports attest to this. Similar predictions in years past had sent debilitating fears down the spines of many residents of rural and urban settings alike. Osun State was not left out, as residents became exposed to perennial flooding brought about by torrential rainfalls. In those times Osun State was one of the worst hit, because of lack of precautionary measures by the inept administration of the time to forestall the ugly incidence.
With the emergence of the present administration of Engineer Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, it is obvious that at last, the people of the state can heave a sigh of relief. This is due to the various measures put in place by the administration to make life more comfortable for the populace. Particular in this regard is the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) initiated around February. The programme has engaged up to twenty thousand vibrant youths into various activities which are intended to influence the lives of the citizens in many positive ways. The feat of the OYES programme was recorded barely 100 days into the life of the administration.
The Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) is intended to inculcate in youths knowledge and practical skills; and enable them to imbibe the values and work ethic of Apalara Ise l’ewa Osun (the beauty of Osun land derives from the people’s labour). In other words, the OYES Volunteer Corps members are expected to be fit, morally, mentally and physically; and to commit their capabilities to improving the people’s quality of life with integrity, efficiency and humility, these, which are sterling qualities that exemplify an Omoluwabi (virtuous person).
For a start, all the participants of the OYES programme are drafted to environmental sanitation, as one important aspect of the whole scheme. On the whole, the scheme has sections which include Sheriff Guards, Paramedics, Traffic Marshals, Sanitation Czars, Public Works Brigade and Green Gang. Drafting all the twenty thousand corps members of the OYES across the state into sanitation has produced appreciable improvement in refuse disposal, drainage clearing, general sanitation and hygiene in our society. In addition, work has commenced in earnest on construction and rehabilitation of roads in the state. It is also very clear now that channelization of drainages and canals have begun. All these are efforts geared towards ensuring a dignifying and habitable environment for our people and guaranteeing healthy living for all.
As early as 7.00 am daily, OYES participants are seen positioned at their duty posts all over Osun State. These young Nigerians are found dispensing their duties with utmost enthusiasm. Given their high sense of commitment, it is not in doubt that this year and subsequent ones shall offer better experiences of a flood-free environment to citizens of Osun State.
RAINS are not intended to bring evil to mankind. It is this heavenly soothing release of relief called rain that gave these parts of the country its name in vegetation studies. Geographical studies categorize a vast expanse of the South-Western part of Nigeria as “Rain Forest Belt”, due to the fact that the heavy rains that the area witnesses annually, spanning a period of between seven (7) and eight (8) months provide the necessary conditions for its flora to subsist in thick forests. It is therefore expected to be a thing of joy when the rains come visiting annually between the months of March and May. The first approach of rainfall is the harbinger of relief; comfort and bumper harvest that man looks up to year in, year out.
As the rains are ushered in within the above-stated months, wet (rainy) season begins. Farmers are usually busy preparing wide expanses of cultivable land area for another planting season. Since it is rain and other combinations of ample climatic conditions that provide productive engagement to a large proportion of Western Nigerian indigenes and inhabitants, these combinations of climatic conditions should not naturally instill the people with fears each time rains are about to begin their annual downpour, drenching our massive landscape and keeping it well moisturized thereby.
In addition, the entire populace of the South-West, the non-farming segment inclusive, heaves a sigh of relief at the appearance of indications of rains. That is so, partly because such appearances put paid to the long, seemingly-unending harsh weather which the early-year dry season engendered. With the beginning of each New Year, the prevailing dry season climaxes into a chilly harmattan, which eventually gives way to a hell of heat that threatens to choke the populace out of existence. As the rains appear, therefore, coolness and freshness gradually become pervasive once again. Diseases, which are mostly, air- or water-borne in nature, and which often characterize the dry seasons, fade into oblivion. As a matter of fact, nature is benign to and deals kindly with us in this part of the country.
In view of the favourable natural endowments illustrated above, our sub-region of the country Nigeria has a formidable and vibrantly-disposed occupational distribution of its population. With above 90 per cent of our population traditionally engaged in agriculture, the structure of and rationale for our region’s occupational division of labour become prominently defined. Even with the modern trend, which exigencies, attractions and promptings have caused a sharp decline in this large proportion, 60 per cent is still an impressive figure if it is given the necessary impetus, buffer and springboard to successfully operate and practise agriculture.
It is also a soothing relief to realise that with the emergence of rains, food items hit the market stalls in great abundance. Most food crops, which are almost entirely seasonal in nature, show the imminence of reappearing. Some others, which had endured through the dreary dry seasons in their stale forms, are fast replaced by fresh ones. The populace is made to gleefully approach the rains with a high hope of having conquered, overcome and subdued hunger. Poverty and squalor begin to lose their vicious grip. No wonder the traditional Yoruba rhetorics in its wisdom have an adage which is most apposite and operational in this regard. The adage run as follows: “Bi eebi ba yo kuro ninu ise; ise buse”, meaning: “If hunger is banished, poverty is almost totally extinguished.”
With the background given above in mind, it is indeed an unfortunate trend that a phenomenon, which should naturally be, or rather, which had traditionally been a cause for joy, happiness and betterment in man’s existence and his harmonious interaction with his environment, has been turned into a terrifying agent. In other words, due to careless, insensitive and irresponsive leadership in governance in our state for almost eight (8) years, there has been a reverse in expectations concerning rains and their annual seasons. Rains and their attendant flows of water have come to instill palpable fears in our people. A divine agent meant to bring relief to man in his earthly exertions has transformed drastically into a serious cause of worry and debilitating fear. This constitutes a negative reversal of the totem of our state, Osun State. Judging from our experience in recent years, especially what obtained in the Oyinlola years, could our state rightly answer to its totem as the State of the Living Spring?
It is an agreed fact that concerns are shown globally over events connected with environmental degradation, global warming and climate uncertainties. These components have reduced natural elements of climate to near-redundancy. But it is indefensible that this reversal of natural conditions has been made more insurmountable in Osun State, courtesy of the past administration. Granted also that it is the exertions of modern man that contribute continuously to the depletion of the ozone layers, continuously to the depletion of the ozone layers, thus leaving the earth with less protection and defence from the harsh rays of the scorching sun, the rains that would have played a vital role in dampening, moisturizing and replenishing our mother earth are either farther apart or fall so heavily today that they leave the earth devastated. The inept administration that has just recently been ridded in Osun State put no proactive infrastructure in place to combat this devastation. The results are clear and visible to discern. Erosion is rampant as massive flows of water wash away a considerable part of our top soil. Flooding becomes perennial, leading to loss of lives and property. Also, infrastructure like roads, culverts and bridges are damaged to the extent that they become out of use. These are few out of the whole list of indices to the bad leadership of the PDP-controlled administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
RAINS, literally taken, are “showers of blessings”. This definition translates to the fact that they are a God-sent downpour meant to lubricate, moisturize and dampen the earth, His footstool. If the scriptural injunctions that heaven is God’s abode and earth. His footstool is anything to go by; then; God in His creative ingenuity would not send anything to deplete or destroy the earth, our own home, and His own footstool. All hazards connected with rainfall; all disasters that accompany rainfall; which displace and dislodge man or even kill him, or which degrades the earth, man’s physical environment, could not be God-sent.
Disasters are mostly classified as natural. This means that when disasters occur, man mostly blames them on forces of nature, God’s creative expression. The truth of the matter is that God cannot be blamed for any adversity that man faces on earth specially, the ones threatening man based on after-effects of his mental, physical and social exertions on the planet-earth. In essence, disasters imposed by forces of nature such as storms, winds, torrents of water, water erosion, fire, etcetera, are associated largely with man’s activities in modifying or degrading our planet.
In the opening part of this report, we have seen the numerous transformations that the earth and its dwellers witness at the approach of rainfall. These transformations add lustre and meaning to entire life and living; not only for man but also for other lesser animals and plants. Similarly, the earth’s crust and bodies of water become more enriched. The bodies of water, the kinds that criss-cross our terrain in Osun State in particular, and Nigeria in general, become swelled-up. This swelling up of our rivers, springs and streams constitutes an avenue of water conservation for diverse uses by man on the planet-earth.
Beyond these positive transformations, the approach of rainfall in today’s society causes the environments that adjoin the rivers, streams and springs to be terribly endangered. Apart from the fact that inhabitants of communities that fall in areas that adjoin the banks of these river courses have to imbibe hygiene and sanitation practices, the recurrent swells and surges of the streams urgently call for government intervention in order to safeguard lives and property and prevent occurrences of floods and erosions and their attendant damages. These measures are the missing features of our society today which threaten man’s happy and prosperous living. In Osun State in particular, the situation has been allowed to degenerate by the neglect and ineptitude of the Oyinlola administration.
It is a glaring fact today that when our rivers, springs and streams overflow their banks, it results into floods. In effect, these floods displace homes, claim lives and destroy properties, the worth of which is inestimable. In addition, floods and erosion carry off top soil or cause soils to be water-logged. The attendant losses are huge and colossal. Agricultural activities are encumbered, while land development and other commercial activities are also frustrated. In most cases too, infrastructure of great importance like roads, buildings, drains, culverts and bridges that had been provided with enormous funds are damaged, causing a fresh need for urgent re-investment in them.
Unfortunately, this ugly situation was allowed to thrive unchecked under the close watch of the Oyinlola administration. Few days to the sack of the impostor ‘governor’ by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Lasisi Olagunju was reported to have advanced a lame excuse for that government’s non-performance. According to him, opposition parties in the state, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in particular, were not constructive in the various criticisms leveled against the Oyinlola administration. He based his arguments mainly on the deplorable state of roads, flooding, erosion and other harsh environmental hazards. The spokesman explained that the heavy rains of year 2010, which were both unexpected and unprecedented in history; caused the sudden deplorable state of infrastructure and multiple disasters!
But we know better. The administration of impostor ‘Governor’ Oyinlola had no focus. It was deficient in plans, programmes and agenda. Rather than committing enormous resources accumulating from taxpayers’ money and monthly statutory allocation from the Federation Accounts to programmes and projects that could effect a positive turn-around in the lives of the people, that administration was involved neck-deep in squandering of resources and siphon of funds into private coffers.
It is salient at this juncture to remind our teeming readers that while the subterfuge and profligacy of that devilish administration lasted, we did not keep quiet. About June last year, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine picked flooding, erosion and sanitation matters up for discussion, warning and attention. The inept administration turned its ever-deaf ears to it. The following excerpts are quoted here from one of those editions. The edition was one out of countless ones which if heeded, could have averted the ugly disasters of last year and previous years.
“We are, all of us, what our environment makes out of us, such postulates a class of psychologists. But we also are duty-bound to exert an impressive influence on our environment. In an era when leaders and statesmen are busy turning around the fortunes of their citizens through a scrupulous implementation of people- and environment – friendly programmes, the experience is another kettle of fish entirely in Osun State, where the indolent and lethargic administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, foisted on the people most ignominiously, is turning the people to an endangered species through grossly degrading environmental policies. The unkempt landscape, horrible sites, huge mass of refuse dumps and terrible stench that are a common feature of most parts of the State including Osogbo, the State Capital are a literately horde of hornets, set in obvious murderous mission to sting the people to death…”
At the risk of sounding immodest and/or of appearing to be playing the role of a prophet of doom, we sounded notes of warning that were loud and clear enough to forestall the gory disasters of last year. Unfortunately, the damage done by that administration had been so accumulating that the fulfillment of our prophecies came calling barely a month after the last in the series of editions. We were all living witnesses to the ugly disasters. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine commiserates with victims of the disasters and their families. We also pray God to avert future recurrence of such disasters from our midst. Above all, we pray against the foisting or emergence by mistake of disaster governments, the kind that the Oyinlola administration exemplified. God forbid that we should have that kind of ugly experience ever again.
In this edition, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine is poised to dissect various environmental challenges that stared us in the face in the past. Also numerous issues related to the past disasters and the ineptitude of the ousted government in the area of flood control and management, erosion prevention, flood channelisation, environmental sanitation and ecological and such other sundry matters shall be showcased. This is to the effect of getting the listening and purposeful administration of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola acquainted with the whole truth about the situation on ground; to forestall reoccurrence of deadly disasters in our state – the State of the Virtuous.
To be continued