Ondo State Chapter of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) on Wednesday 21st September embarked on a reconnaissance survey to access the impact of sea incursion and damages in the ancient town of Ayetoro, a coastal community in Ilaje local government area of Ondo State.
The trip was in partnership with the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) and was aimed at assessing the level of havoc caused by the natural disaster, with a view to notifying the appropriate national and international authorities, and make recommendations that can mitigate the situation.
While receiving the visitors into the sea ravaged community, a community leader, Mr. Bankole Joshua, lamented how the peace and serenity Ayetoro used to enjoy has now become a mirage.
According to him the community used to be many kilometers away from the sea. But today, a greater part of the community has been overtaken by water. He appealed to the government to quickly come to their rescue.
In their separate appeals, Prince Thompson Omoyelu Akingboye, Ayetoro Youth PRO and Mrs Akinluwa Cecelia, a woman leader recounted the great dilapidation and untold hardship which has become part of the daily life of their people.
According to them the once beautiful and prosperous Ayetoro community has now become a shanty and its people are greatly traumatized. Almost half of the community has been taken over by the recurring sea surge. Houses, schools and worship centres have been wiped away. The people are now homeless, with no means of livelihood.They appealed to the government and all relevant bodies to speedily rescue the community and allow its people return to their normal lives.
Responding, Mrs. Bola Akinyanmi, who led the team of Environmentalists sympathized with the depressed people on their loss. She emphasized that having visited the community a couple of years ago, she can understand their collective plights.
Mrs. Akinyanmi informed the people the purpose of their visit. According to her, The Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) is a Non-Governmental Organisation with experts from different professions and sectors.
“I see how agitated the people in this community are today. This is quite understandable. Some years back, I was in Ayetoro and the situation was not as bad as this. We came to do some advocacy during the Ebola crisis. The church where we met then can no longer be found. Schools, houses and roads can no longer be found. I want to encourage you not to give up. Sometimes, things get so bad before they attract solution.
“But I can also let you know that this sea incursion is not peculiar to Ayetoro. Awoye and other communities are also feeling the effect. I am begging you that in everything we do, safety first. Encourage our people not to live in the threatened areas. This is a natural occurrence. I want to thank you for bearing with nature this far. But by the grace of God who created nature, solution will come not too long”. Akinyanmi said.
Also speaking Engr. Stephen Ogunsemore (Director, Project Planning & Development) assured the people that the Commission will communicate to all necessary stakeholders the level of devastation, and see how succor can be brought to the community.
Apostle Sola Orisamoluwa (Director, Human Resources & Business Development) who is also a prominent leader of Ayetoro community stressed that OSOPADEC as an interventionist agency will not fold its arms when communities in its mandate areas are confronted with human and natural challenges. He said the Commission facilitated the visit of the body (NES), so that they can assess the level of devastation of Ayetoro Community. The body as part of its assignments is expected to make recommendations to concerned authorities.Orisamoluwa appealed to his people to remain calm and optimistic.
In his words: “the effect of the incursion is immeasurable and unquantifiable. We have lost so much in terms of our land mass, shelter, schools, roads and churches. But by the grace of almighty God, solution will come soonest, our happiness and loss shall be restored”.
The visit came barely 2 weeks after the Chairman of the Commission, Sam Erejuwa led the Board, Management and Technical Staff of the Commission on similar visit to the community.
It would be recalled that Sam Erejuwa during the visit on 9th September was moved to tears as he behooved the damages done on the community and the agony of its people.
Erejuwa appealed to relevant authorities and international partners to rescue Ayetoro from going into extinction.