Ibadan: Peace Be Still By Oladayo Ogunbowale

“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” – Baruch Spinoza

In the series ‘Great Ideas of Western Man’, a theologico-Political Treatise written circa 1670, Baruch Spinoza gave the world the now popular quote above deciphering the reality about ‘Peace’ relatively.

Harmattan appeared to have returned to the ancient city of Ibadan on this day after a brief hiatus. It was quite dark as individuals and families were mostly returning home after the day’s work while the power distribution company had decided to shed load from the Old Bodija axis. Harmattan; the air was dry and cool, leaving no one in suspicion of any eerie occurrence lurking in the gradually thickening darkness and fast approaching too.

Old Bodija, rife with both the old and the young was gradually winding up for the day or so they thought…

Gbooom! An explosion, sounding like the release from a 19th century Schwerer Gustav Canon rented the air around Bodija with a war-like sound distilling into the darkness and travelling several kilometers, coupled with a terrifying ground shaking, roof tearing and structure threatening shock waves spreading several kilometers radius into the largest city in sub-Sahara Africa. On Dejo Oyelese Street, off Adeyi Avenue, Old Bodija laid rubble upon rubble on plots where once stood residential homes. Precious lives were lost, numerous injured, properties worth billions were blown to smithereens in a split second, no doubt, the renowned peaceful Ibadan had just sailed into turbulent waters, desperately in need of ‘peace be still’.

The unfortunate incidence that happened at about 7:44PM on Tuesday, 16th January, 2024 will forever remain etched in hearts of many, especially residents of Dejo Oyelese Street and her environs.

While fifth columnists took to different media platforms to spread disinformation and misinformation, first responders inclusive of security and health practitioners were on their toes throughout the night, running a search and rescue operation that they had no idea was going to hold even as late as 7PM that same Tuesday, they sure deserve all the accolades they received and more. Governor Seyi Makinde, the executive governor of Oyo State arrived at the scene few hours later and took a personal assessment of the damage done. He addressed the press and spoke based on available information garnered thus far same night. He would later address a larger and more organized press conference at about 4 PM the next day.

In his address the next day, the governor called for calm and assured the residents of Oyo State that his government is fully in control of the situation while sharing different interventions that had already been set in motion since the event occurred. According to him, 

“We have, therefore, set up an Emergency Operations Centre headed by Prof Temitope Alonge to coordinate all search and rescue efforts. I would like to appeal to our people to remain calm as we do everything possible to provide succour to everyone concerned. Please reach out to the Emergency Operations Centre on 07049948057 and 08147672009 if you have any information regarding any persons who may still be trapped within the perimeter.

Also, let me use this opportunity to appeal to anyone still staying in any of the houses within 250 metres of ground zero to move out to government-provided accommodation until we check the structural integrity of the buildings in this area. At the same time, unscrupulous elements who may want to take advantage of this disaster to carry out any form of looting should be warned. All security agencies have been placed on high alert to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order.

We will continue to provide regular updates regarding the actions we are taking through the Emergency Operations Centre and our various feedback channels on and off social media. The further update we can provide at this time is that we have information regarding the company that was using that residence to store explosives. Rest assured that all that were involved, directly and indirectly, in bringing this tragedy upon us will be brought to book.

This is a trying time for us all. But it is at such times like this that we draw on our strength and resilience to be our brothers’ keepers and refrain from spreading fake news and disinformation that could potentially cause panic within the populace.

Once again, I urge all to remain calm as the authorities are on top of the situation.”

While investigations continue as to unravel the actual cause of the explosion, numerous opinions are being peddled with quite a number of persons already assuming the title of ‘overnight security cum explosive experts’. Well, as they exercise their freedom of speech, kindly choose to also exercise your freedom of association to decide on who gets your valuable attention and airtime either via the traditional media or the topsy turvy terrain of social media. The best and most reliable source of information still remains via the official accounts of the Oyo State government on all media platforms.

Can we all just take a moment to pause and ponder, while praying for eternal repose for the deceased, quick healing for the injured and thanking God for the numerous lives spared. It is however pertinent to enjoin all residents of the Pace setter state to join hands with the governor and the government to ensure that this turbulence is not only seen through but much more that we all ensure we do our very best to avoid all such future avoidable disasters by following and exemplifying the saying… 

“If you see something, say something.”

To all forms of disasters and untoward occurrences in our dear state and nation, we say ‘Peace Be Still’.

God bless Oyo State,

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

*Oladayo Ogunbowale is Special Assistant on Communications to the Governor of Oyo State.

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