December 15, 2023

Rosalie’s crusade, By Donu Kogbara

Rosalie’s crusade, By Donu Kogbara

Dr Rosalie Ann Modder-Oyefeso moved to Nigeria with her Sri Lankan parents 5 decades ago when her father, later a professor of zoology, took up a teaching post at the University of Ibadan.

Rosalie studied and practised medicine for a while, but is a free-spirited Bohemian artist at heart; and having retired from the hospital scene, now creates beautiful paintings and greeting cards.

She is still based in Ibadan and everyone who knows her loves her because she is one of life’s truly civilized and compassionate souls.

I met her through my darling kid sister, Lela; and we and other chums have been begging her for years to adopt a more businesslike attitude because she is talented enough to make a fortune from her artwork. But she displays no interest AT ALL in wealth accumulation. Instead, she prefers to worry about humanitarian and community-related issues that most people of her class don’t give a toss about.

In a country that is bursting at the seams with mercenaries and philistines, Rosalie’s sweet-natured humility, mega-modest lifestyle and passionate belief that that MANY things are more important than money make her stand out from the fray. And I respect her so much that when she called me the other day to say that she was launching an environmental crusade, I immediately decided to help.

Rosalie has formed the SAVE OUR GREEN SPACES GROUP with some like-minded friends.  Next Tuesday, December 19th, they will embark on a GREEN WALK in a bid to stop deforestation.

Any Vanguard readers who want to participate in this protest march should get to the starting point – Agodi Gardens – at 7am.

Here, in Rosalie’s own words, is what the fuss is about:

“At the precise moment when over 1000 richly robed delegates were in Dubai representing Nigeria at COP28, our very own Oyo State Government (OYSG) condoned the destruction of 200 plots-worth of space in Agala Forest, which is not only one of the last remaining stretches of untouched greenery in our beloved Ibadan but also a massive carbon sink. It makes a total mockery of our very presence at COP28. It’s as  though our delegates were merely paying lip service to the noble ideas and strategies being placed on the table by more far-seeing countries and organizations.

If their track record for deforestation at home is anything to go by, they appear to understand little or nothing about the causes of global warming and the dire consequences of climate change.  

Establishing Agodi Gardens as a Conservation Forest and Recreation Area was the brainchild of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in conjunction with Chief Akintola and Chief Akindeko. They were ably supported in this plan by other iconic visionaries of the Western Region: Chief Oseni, of Federal Forestry, Mr Ladipo, a renowned forest conservator and Mr Thompson the British first Director of Forestry in Ibadan.

The 60 hectares of Agodi Gardens were deliberately located on sloping terrain and conceived as a massive drain that would spare the Mokola neighbourhood from flooding. It is where the greatest volume of run-off water is absorbed by the roots of the trees when it rains. In the time it took me to write this complaint earlier on this month, 200 plots-worth of our precious forest ecosystem were irreversibly destroyed to make way for the concrete edifices of yet another high-end residential estate. Not a hospital or a school for the under privileged, not a motherless babies’ home, but a high-end residential estate, tailor made to suit the tastes of a handful of the elite predators of society (who appear to believe that steel and concrete are the new green!).

Unbelievable! In less than a few hours, 200-plots-worth of trees in Ibadan’s major carbon sink forest were brought crashing to the ground.

Unbelievable! 200 plots-worth of trees no longer able to absorb and safely store carbon dioxide and other pollutants derived from the burning of fossil fuels.

If these trees were burnt as firewood or allowed to decompose, the environmentally destructive greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, will be released back into the atmosphere where they begin their job of trapping heat and light radiation from the sun as it is reflected back into space from the Earth’s surface, thus raising Ibadan’s temperature and contributing to global warming.

In a single weekend 200 plots-worth of the biodiversity that humans depend on for their very survival was destroyed. 200 plots-worth of forest mammals, birds, reptiles and insects were driven out of their natural habitat. 200 plots-worth of medicinal plants and herbs on the forest floor have been dug up by the ravaging bulldozers and tossed aside for burning. The only happy people at this stage are the human vultures impatient to cart off the 200 plots-worth of logs to sawmills and rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation of ill-gotten Christmas cash. 200 plots-worth of green tree leaves are no longer engaged in producing the oxygen that we breathe or the cooling of air through the process of evatranspiration.

Unbelievable! 200 plots-worth of tree roots are no longer present to filter pollutants from run-off water which up till now had been crucial in keeping our underground water reservoirs clean and pure.

Unbelievable! 200 plots-worth of forest trees no longer available to combat erosion or stop silt from sliding down into the Dandaru tributary of the Ogunpa River. How much more unbelievable can this get?! We would also like to point out to the property developers that this form of construction is archaic and unsustainable in terms of providing clean air, clean natural water, cooler city temperatures and adequate oxygen for the general populace. It is archaic and unsustainable in terms of mopping up greenhouse gases and the deadly emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Nigeria has many expert architects who are well trained in the new field of Sustainable Architecture in which all the trees do not need to be cut down first. OYSG might wish to consider inviting some of these expert architects onto its team for the safety of us all. Promising, as OYSG has, to plant new trees after deforestation and construction is totally pointless because trees the size of the ones that have been cut down need 50-150 years to reach maturity…at which point they will be ready to carry out their crucial cooling, cleaning, purifying and pollutant mopping up functions.

I hereby appeal to OYSG and our Governor, Seyi Makinde – on my knees if necessary – to please stop allowing this horrendous deforestation in Ibadan and Oyo State to go on. It no longer matters who the land belongs to. The disastrous consequences of rampant deforestation affect our entire population that is looking to OYSG for protection and just leadership.





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