There’s nothing the Oyo State government says about the conversion of Agodi gardens to a residential area that will make any sense. For the umpteenth time, I’ll reiterate that those who started the Nigerian journey had good intentions before jackasses in uniform hijacked it and later some “democrats” screaming Awoism; an idea they know nothing about.
I have read quite a number of narratives from politicians loyal to the State Governor and most recently from the Commissioner for Lands trying effortlessly to defend the planned conversion of Agodi Gardens to a housing estate and I must state that it is nothing but a ruse. The statement of the Commissioner in defence of the conversion is so twisted and incoherent and lacking details. It is not even the case that the houses to be constructed will be accessible for low and middle-income earners. The statement failed to answer why the conservation area must be converted to a housing estate when a green revolution should take off from that spot.
It is important to make it known for a record purpose that the Agodi Gardens of today did not start with Governor Ajimobi who launched the construction in 2014. However, he must be commended for buying the idea and making it see the light of the day.
The notion for Agodi Gardens has been conceived and initiated as far back as the 60s during the days of Obafemi Awolowo. And, probably the Governor does not know, trees were bought and brought in from several countries and planted there to make the reserve which is about to be washed off by the Governor to give way for a housing estate. Meanwhile, the trees that will be cut off to give way for the housing estate are as old as the Governor and even more.
If you look around the South West, you will realise that none of the legacies of Awolowo is standing because of the absence of foresight by those managing the affairs of South West States.
There used to be at least 8 ranches in the defunct Western Region under Obafemi Awolowo in present-day Lagos (Agege), Ogun (Imeko), Ekiti (Aiyedun), Ondo (Ikare) and Oyo (Saki) States amongst others. Unfortunately, these ranches have now become history because of mis-governance.
Meanwhile, countries like Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and the United States of America have implemented cattle ranching successfully. There is also an online info which says ranches contribute $123billion annually to Brazil’s economy. Unfortunately, today, there is nothing to show for the ranches established in the old western region.
For a fact, we would not have been here talking about open grazing and indiscriminate destruction of farmlands by Fulani herdsmen in the South West if those ranches which were set-up in the Old Western Region had not been sent into extinction because of recklessness by our ruling elites.
Now, at a time that our Governors most especially here in Oyo State should be discussing plans to revive ranching and bring to life the green revolution, the State government has concluded a plan to sell off Agodi gardens to his cronies in the business world to build residential areas. That is some other destruction of a historic location which must not be allowed to fly.
I know the Governor is not aware but we must make him know that forest parks/game reservation is a big economic asset. Forest helps to normalise the earth’s natural systems, contribute to biological diversity, maintain air, water and soil quality. Forests also regulate runoffs and groundwater, control soil erosion, influence local climate and ensure downstream sedimentation and flooding are reduced.
Interestingly, the location of Agodi Gardens and the conservation forest being destroyed today was chosen strategically specifically for its hilly nature and previous soil and the fact that it sits on a subterranean rock which extends from Mokola hills down. The location is where the greatest volume of runoff water is absorbed by the roots of the trees when it rains. Now, with the absence of trees in that area, the torrent of water will freely flow downstream to Mokola with no hindrance, thereby opening the city up for flooding.
It is quite unfortunate that the present government chooses to follow this route while there are other locations in the vast city of Ìbàdàn begging for the establishment of residential estates. The Governor owes the people of the State an explanation as to his fixation on the denigration of the environment without considering the attendant’s negative effect on the ecosystem.
It is a well known fact that over 50% of Oyo State’s land area is undeveloped as at 2023. This reveals that in the event of land needs for housing or any other land use, the conversion of a monumental facility should be the last option or not make it to the list of available options.
The choice of a garden that homes the only living pieces of some life species in Oyo State is an attempt to extinct such life species in the State. Through this, the government is obviously waging war against conservation and sustainability. This becomes worrisome as to how far the government will go in causing an imbalance in the ecosystem.
Ibadan is an ancient city and as such, just like Greece, Rome, Jerusalem, Mecca and many other ancient cities in the world should have conservation in top gear to ensure that there is a preservative and conservative approach in nurturing its culture, traditions, religion, history, ethnicity, language as well as the biotic and abiotic components of her environment.
This would ensure that the values and name of the city are firmly upheld without a distort in the ecosystem.
It is really very shameful, embarrassing and heart wrenching that part of the lands (200 plot worth of forest) which made up Agodi gardens and conservation forest is being destroyed by this administration to give way for a residential estate. It breaks my heart to shreds.
This is pure deforestation which must not be allowed to see the light of the day. I cannot imagine that a Governor would be comfortable to allocate game reserves for housing estates when a massive investment should be put into completing the Agodi gardens project and also promote tree planting projects. It is embarrassing.
Nigerians all over must rise to condemn this attempt by Governor Seyi Makinde to destroy game reserves in Oyo State just as it was condemned in the early 2000 when a former Governor came up with the same pathetic idea to build residential estate at the exact location the desecration of today is being initiated.
The most unfortunate aspect of this is that there is no House of Assembly in Oyo State to immediately call the Governor to order. We the citizens must not sleep. That Agodi gardens have not been touched is a fat lie.
Governor Seyi Makinde is opening Oyo State for catastrophe.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) writes from Ìbàdàn, Nigeria.