By Ayodeji Olonode
Across the world’s differing geopolitical landscape, disasters and hazardous events occasionally break out in manners that defy and overwhelm government’s preparedness and local response ability.
Recent floods in Germany and Central China that overwhelmed government’s defences revealed how absolutely unrealistic it is to assume that even the strongest framework can perfectly anticipate and overcome disasters.
Osun State (southwest Nigeria), recently became a reference point of a geopolitical context that experienced a sad flood episode that challenged the government’s wall of defence. For eight straight hours, the state capital territory witnessed torrential downpour that eventually eased into a 24- hour relentless rainfall. By the time the sun finally showed up, the rain had created its own sad narrative.
However, did that mean the Government of the State had sat on its hands when it comes to environmental protection? A resounding nay is the verifiable answer.
Under the leadership of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, the state since its emergence had taken deliberate and consistent steps to build a response system that will effectively handle wet days even before they arrive.
Oyetola, in a bid to rid the state of the gnashing of teeth that flooding had caused in the past, made a number of proactive climate-friendly interventions to nip potential disasters in the bud.
Notably, Osun government prioritized river channelization, dredging and other flood prevention mechanisms to ensure that the distasteful instance of flooding does not get the best of the state.
Consequently, over 40 rivers, streams and water passages were either dredged or de-silted as part of the state’s flood prevention strategy. These, Oyetola took time to inspect not through a proxy, but personally.
Okokoro in Iludun/Ayegun Osogbo; Sheusheu in Powerline Area Osogbo; Aganga in Osogbo; Lake 264 in Mallam Tope Area Osogbo; Upper Ogbaagba in Olubi Area Osogbo; Olobedu in Ayekale Osogbo; Aigbe in Senator Olu Alabi GRA Osogbo; Oke-Ijetu in Ilesha Garage Osogbo; Fesojaye along Ilesha Owode; Amunifosun along Ilesha Owode; Igbo Ifa at Oke-Baale Osogbo; Lower Ogbaagba at Alekuwodo Market Area Osogbo; Akintokun along Ibokun Road; Ogbagba at Rasco Area Osogbo; Okorokoro at Fiwasaye Area Osogbo; Alagbagbu/Osun along Aagba Road Iragbiji; Otapete/Ataba at Iragbiji; Arioyun Ireland Road at Otan Ayegbaju; Osin along Ila-Orangun; Opopo Iperin at Ila; Amuni at Ila; Aketu at Ila; and Isale Okuna at Ede; were among the water passages that have felt the government’s steady hands in the last two-and-half years.
Other water passages either dredged or de-silted across the State include: Arugbo around Capital Hotel Osogbo; Aiba along Bowen University Iwo; Odo-Ori in Iwo; Atile along UniOsun Satellite Campus Ikire; Mogimogi/Agbowo at Apomu; Naira and Kobo in Ikire; Odi stream along Ilesha Road Ife; Seminary/Gbalefefe along Ilesha Road Ife; Esinminrin along OAUTH Ife; Agbara along Ondo Road Modakeke; Onidawa in Ife; Lower Ooa along Ede Road; Abojupa along Ondo Road Ifetedo; Oora at Obokun Avenue; Apalara/Nigerian Brewery in Ilesha; Agunrodo Abiola Avenue in Ilesha; Omi-eran Alawada Hotel Area in Ilesha and Osun Ankara in Ilesha.
All these are waterways spread across the three senatorial districts of the State.
Aside dredging and channelisation, Oyetola’s administration has also shown zero-tolerance for building on waterways and floodplains, which made flooding a rampant phenomenon in the past. Part of the positive derivatives of Oyetola’s urban renewal drive is to address the extant urban planning deficits with possibilities of spelling chaos in response to any kind of surge in water levels during heavy rains.
At the other end of the state’s architecture of control mechanism is behaviour change communication aimed at eliciting counterpart action from residents of the state in the battle against the floods. With multimedia burst of information anchored on the campaign tagged “Omiyale” (meaning flooding), Osun government has not failed to screw into public domain messages that communicate the dangers of blocking water passages through indiscriminate waste disposal and erection of buildings on waterways.
The floods of August 3 in some part of Osun State was quite unfortunate, and resonating sympathies indeed go to those who lost properties to the flood. But really, when the amount of rain that usually falls in two weeks fall just in six hours, it will breach the strongest of defence walls.