It was a sunny afternoon when I found myself in the middle of an argument with a close friend, who happens to be a student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). You may be thinking that the argument was on which school is truly the best in the country, but then, such thought could be wrong. We were neither discussing the supremacy of the schools nor the problems facing the students’ unionism in both institutions. Rather, we were debating which higher institution is truly for the less privilege and the last hope of the masses. As a student of the University of Ibadan, I based my argument on three points; admission process, mobility and beautified environment. After discussing the first point with my friend, I can confidently say that I won the argument with the aid of the second and third points.

The ambiance of the University of Ibadan is one of the institution’s sources of attraction. It is one which encourages open discussion among students, allows for easy ventilation, promotes conduciveness, and spurs inspiration for creative ideas and innovation. Particularly, the environment, as a result of the well-structured trees allows for easy movement of both staff and students even in the midst of the most scorching of suns. Unlike my close friend’s institution, OAU, whereby you dare not walk from the main gate to your lecture room, as a result of two factors –the distance involved and the sun from which one could suffer a change of skin color–, the University of Ibadan environment allows you to easily walk from the school gate to one’s lecture room without fear of burning your skin or trekking long distances. But it appears that those days may soon come to an end as the tree fellers have been employed by the school management to do what they do best, the question everyone begins to ask is why?

Upon resumption, the average Uite after seeing the state of the trees has several thoughts running through his or her mind. Some student might assume that the Ajibode and Abadina communities have started a tree felling festival. Some believe that the trees were cut for the purpose of selling them to contractors. Some believe it is in preparation for the upcoming convocation ceremony, among others. Above all, majority of students were pained to see the condition of the trees, under which several promises have been made, relationships have been sealed, contracts have been signed and affairs have been initiated.

It is no longer news that trees serve vital purposes within our society. Their presence reduces the effects of congestion in our crowded Halls and faculties, by supplying oxygen to us in abundance. Trees are like lungs of the planet, for they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. They help in reducing ozone levels, urban runoff, absorb sound and reduce noise pollution, improve mental and physical health of both students and staff members. Trees help in conserving energy, saving water, prevent soil erosion, provide food, increase property values, aids healing process, among others. Particularly, trees make our buildings and environments more attractive and less open, unlike we have now. In essence, the benefits derived from planting trees in our surroundings definitely outweigh that of cutting them.

Little wonder, the former Governor of Lagos State had between 2008 and 2014, created 28, 274 jobs in the State from the annual tree planting exercise alone (as reported by
Premium Times on July 15, 2014). Also, in 2012, he flagged the year’s Tree Planting campaign day, with the theme; “Plant a Tree for a better climate”. So if a Governor can make planting of trees as a source of employment, then why should a University, under the leadership of a researcher, cut them?

But come to think of it, the management of the University cannot be so jobless to consider the felling of trees as the next right action, just for the sake of keeping themselves busy with its discussion, deliberation and approval. As a land where ‘knowledge and sound judgment’ is being promoted and upheld, it is expected that sound and knowledgeable decisions were made before actions were embarked upon. Thus, while we are entitled to our personal thoughts, views and opinions, it is important that we view things from the angle of the school management. In a discussion with a member of the school management, he explained the rationale behind the cutting of the trees, stating that it was not a result of the school’s self-pleasure but due to cogent preventive steps.

The trees are truly aged. Most of them have been in existence before some of us were welcomed into this world, indirectly, they could be called our seniors –only if they were humans. He explained that the trees were cut in a bid to reduce the hideouts of criminals at night, to prevent accidents which may occur as a result of the trees falling on cars and also to avoid the trees from falling on houses or other places of abode. “Most of them are aged. Due to the old age, some fall off whenever it rains and thereby cause accident. They either fall on vehicles, double cross the road and vehicles run into them, some fall on houses. Not only that, they serve as hideout for some criminals in the night”, the member of the school management said.

However, since the deed has been done. It is expected that the remaining trees within the University community are left to serve and benefit occupants of the University community. It is expected that the logs of wood from the trees should be evacuated from road sides to avoid accidents of any form, be it by pedestrians in the process of avoiding vehicles, by vehicles running into them or by pedestrians running into vehicles in the course of avoiding the woods. The University of Ibadan belongs to us –students and staff–, as such every activity within its environment directly or indirectly affects us. Therefore, it is our duty to remain focused and conscious on everything going on within.

See you next week. But till then; Stay Focus, Stay Conscious.

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