To His Excellency the Governor of Oyo State Engr. Seyi Makinde.
Your Excellency Sir, I will like to draw your attention to the rumours going about that the land on which the Trans Amusement Park and Agodi Gardens stand are up for sale. As an indigene of Ibadan this rumour is worrisome, therefore, I decided to call your attention to it.
As Yoruba people, we all know the power and status that land ownership gives us individually and collectively. There is also sacred characteristic attach to certain piece/areas of land. It is also important to remember that collective land belongs to the unborn, the living and the ancestors, hence the need to utilize collectively owned land to take care of the present without putting the future in Jeopardy.
According to the Land Use Act of 1978 Part 1 (1) ‘Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act’.
It is important to remind ourselves of the purpose and importance of the park and garden in question. Globally, Parks and gardens play a crucial role in environmental sustainability in several ways these include:
1. Biodiversity Conservation: Parks and gardens can serve as habitats for various plant and animal species, contributing to biodiversity conservation. They provide a safe haven for native flora and fauna, helping to maintain ecological balance. A visit to Agodi Gardens reveals the rare species of trees that has been planted specifically for these purposes and has served research and other purposes.
2. Air Quality Improvement: Green spaces act as natural air purifiers, absorbing pollutants and emitting oxygen. This helps improve air quality, mitigating the effects of pollution and enhancing overall environmental health.
3. Carbon Sequestration: Trees and plants in parks and gardens absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, helping to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Urban Heat Island Reduction: Green spaces help cool urban areas by providing shade and reducing the urban heat island effect. This helps lower energy consumption for cooling and improves the overall comfort of city dwellers. While Trans Amusement Park is surrounded by built up area, the Agodi Parks and Gardens has a large volume of inhabited green landscape with the integration of the park with a water running through it gives the place a cool atmosphere.
5. Stormwater Management: Parks and gardens can absorb rainwater, reducing runoff and the risk of flooding. They also filter pollutants from stormwater, improving water quality in nearby bodies of water.
6. Education and Awareness: These spaces can serve as educational resources, raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices among visitors.
7. Mental and Physical Health Benefits: Access to green spaces enhances the well-being of urban populations, reducing stress and promoting physical activity. This, in turn, can lead to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
8. Aesthetic Value: Parks and gardens contribute to the aesthetic appeal of cities and provide recreational spaces, encouraging people to spend time outdoors and connect with nature creating a public space that brings together the rich and poor.
Sometimes in July, I visited the Pleasure Park in Port-Harcourt and I can only wonder if you have by any chance in some of your numerous visits to River State had the opportunity to witness how the integration of Kiddies play zone, paintball zone, Gym area, Mini soccer area, Basketball area, VIP lounge, open bar, restaurant, Game zone, cinema, Adequate car park space, sidewalks that not only connects all these functions but runs through the entire perimetre of this park into the urban landscape is helping to define the city centre.
Also, it is important to learn from the situation in Lagos State where the price of land has gone so high that the indigenous Lagosians can no longer afford to live in the areas set aside for the middle to upper class. Posterity will judge us if we make the same mistake.
It will be a disservice to the over 7 million citizens of Oyo State if the Governor were to allow the last remaining park and Garden in Ibadan to be converted into estates that will only serve a selected few, creating an aristocracy in our democracy. Thereby furthering the gap between the haves and the have nots and dispose of the dreams and intentions of our founding fathers.
Rumours like this is a wakeup call to all stakeholders such as the professional in construction industry, both in public and private practice to evaluate and be attentive to the land use and allocation activities of all tiers of government to date. An appraisal of all the conversion of use of public space to Estates, to whose benefits and of what importance ,there is the Idi Ishin estate with series of revocation without resettlement, ,Ajumose estate is with no value improvement, trans motel measuring 40,000m² is there in Jericho, Onireke is there, Lere Adigun and many others that are not masses driven, all these are priced out of the reach of the average citizen.
To conclude, parks and gardens are integral to environmental sustainability as they support biodiversity, reduce pollution, mitigate climate change, manage water, educate the public, and improve overall quality of life in urban areas. These and many more are the values that both Agodi Parks and Gardens, and Trans Amusement Park has offered for years. Therefore, it is high time that all stakeholders including elected officials work towards the preservation and expansion of parks and gardens as they are essential for a sustainable and resilient future. The youths in Oyo state are prepared to contribute to the maintenance and creation of parks and gardens and such was evident in the proposal recently presented to your representatives by the creative industry on the need to revive the parks and other state-owned facilities that are becoming moribund rather than put them up for sale.
As we work for the development of Oyo State, let us remember that the land is our main source of survival, and history never forgets. I pray we all stay on the good side of history.
Idris Animasaun is a public affairs analyst and co-founder of Impact Passion, an Environmental non-governmental organization.