‘Odo-Ogba, Gbaa Bee Bee, Ko To Nkan’!
That used to be the popular song we chanted whenever we wanted to throw wastes in the Odo-Ogba while we were coming from school in the early eighties.
I attended Methodist Primary school, Ago-Mokeye, Ekunle Iseyin and parts of the fun as a young pupil then was to throw wastes and pebbles in the river while we were on the bridge and watch it sail across to the other side and along the river channel.
Some will leave home with their thrash in protruding bags and their school bags dangling on the neck to drop the waste in Odo-Ogba and join others in the race not to get to school late.
Pictures of Araba trees along the river line, adorned with white cloth and calabash of fresh offering containing cold pap sprinkled with palm oil, some kolanuts, bitter cola, banana and a number of coins still flashed through my memory.
The last item was always our interest. We would waddle through the river to the fearful tree, pick the coins and rinse off the palm oil in the river. Off we go to school to spend our ‘fortune’ on kulikuli (groundnut cake), puff puff and guguru (pop corn).
I can still remember houses by the sides of the Ogba river being submerged whenever it rained heavily and our classmates that lived there with their parents would be forced to relocate to other neighbors’ houses pending the time the raging river would calm and leave the extreme banks.
We usually heard our affected friends relay the methods undertaken by their fathers to appease the river.
“Baami went to see baba onifa (the Ifa diviner) yesterday. They have done etutu (appeasement) and place it by the Iroko tree by the river side,” so said Ojo one of the victims and my classmate.
Then I realized where our coins came from. These people would do the same thing year in, year out, thinking it was the appeasement that soften the heart of Odo-Ogba which made it less floody after each violent submerge and destruction.
The experience above encapsulates the current situation of flood and its major causes in Oyo State as government overtime has expended so much time, resources and money on annual dredging, campaign against indiscriminate dumping in the rivers and even to the extent of enforcing compliance with the establishment of mobile courts across the State.
Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and and Natural Resources, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola warned recently when alongside officials from the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project, (IUFMP), he visited some areas where flood wrecked havoc on residents after it rained for over two hours on Tuesday 27th, August 2019 that until rainfall recedes, the fear of flooding would gang over residents of the areas where houses were built near rivers.
The areas where the rivers and streams overflowed their banks in Ibadan on that day included Ogundipe and Arikemase community at Olodo area of Egbeda local government in Ibadan.
According to him, a good number of buildings in those areas were erected on waterways and road setbacks, especially in the flood -prone areas, warning that it would not be business as usual anymore.
“It would be recalled that during the last workshop programme on flood forecast, early warning service and implementation, it was categorically stated that Oyo State was likely to experience flooding this September due to the climate change, hence the need for residents living in such flood-prone areas to vacate immediately so as to avert loss of lives and properties.
“The forecast has came to reality and you could see the level of the water of rivers and streams in the targeted areas. We do not need to wait to have dead victims and destroyed properties before we act. That is why we are visiting these areas to reinstate the warning for residents to vacate the areas and stop dumping indiscriminately.
“The natural order would not allow anything to block waterways. Water body is powerful when it comes as a flood and flood is as a result of inability of the water to pass through its natural course. So government will soon start pulling down structures that are obstructing easy passage of water and those caught dumping refuse in these rivers will soon face the law,” he announced.
The former Speaker further stated that the present administration in Oyo State would not stand by watching community dwellers endangering their lives by dumping refuse by road side, adding that plans were rife by government to dredge and expand river channels at the Ona river at Olodo Community in Egbeda Local Government.
To prevent flooding, Hon. Ayoola advised Community dwellers to desist from dumping wastes into rivers, drainages and other water ways and also stop erecting buildings in flood-prone areas and for children to be guided when passing through water areas as a preventive measures to keep them from drowning as he spoke extensively with the people.
On the myth of feeding the river spirits with refuse, the Commissioner laughed off the idea, calling it archaic and unfounded. According to him, “old ideas that have destructive tendencies on our lives and living should be avoided. The river is like the passage of our mouth or the digestive system, if anything blocks the passage, there is problem. People should desist from engaging in such act. The river also has its own live and system. Stop blocking its way with refuse and illegal buildings,” he warned.
It is my wish that we will all realize the folly in dumping refuse in rivers to appease the gods. Even the gods do not eat waste. They feed on fresh fish in the river that are not poisoned by human waste.
‘The gods are not to blame’!!!
Alhazan Abiodun Rilwan is the Editor and Head ICT, Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ibadan.