Governments paying lip service to saving Osun River – Urban Alert

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By Francis Ezediuno

A non-governmental organisation, Urban Alert, has alleged that both the federal and state governments have been paying lip service to the protection of the Osun River.

The organisation revealed that despite a series of verbal commitments at different fora, the government had done nothing significant to reduce the contamination in the Osun River.

It also demanded the enforcement of the Minerals and Mining Act 2007, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Act and other environmental laws.

In a statement by Anthony Adejuwon, Urban Alert Team Lead, made available to DAILY POST on Monday in Osogbo, he revealed that the contamination of the 213km Osun River had continued to take centre stage in conversations around environmental degradation.

He noted that the river, which serves more than 70 communities in South West Nigeria, is heavily contaminated by mercury, lead, cyanide and other toxic elements.

According to the statement, “Having affirmed that the river which serves over 70 communities in Southwest Nigeria has been heavily contaminated by mercury, lead, cyanide and other toxic elements by gold miners operating in many communities in Osun State, Nigeria, nothing significant has been done by the Federal and Osun State Governments despite series of verbal commitment at different times.

“Recall that the Director-General of the Nigerian Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Professor Alliyu Jauro, had during a media parley on 25th August 2022, disclosed the readiness of his agency to ensure the safety of the Osun River having concluded its investigation on the life-threatening activities of gold miners in some parts of Osun State.”

Urban Alert lamented that the statements from NESREA had remained words without actions as miners continued to work unhindered, polluting water bodies and exposing more communities to water poisoning and environmental degradation in Osun and other states in the southwestern part of Nigeria.

“Similarly, during his inaugural address in November 2022, Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun State promised to tackle the menace of water poisoning and environmental degradation by gold miners in Osun State.

“Six months later, significant action is yet to be taken by the Osun State Government to protect the lives of over 2 million people threatened by the contamination of the Osun River and other major rivers in Osun State.

“How long shall over 23 communities in Osun State continue to suffer the grievous effect of water poisoning and land degradation caused by mining, despite all the extant laws protecting the environment and governing mineral exploration in Nigeria?” He queried.

It also called on the Federal Government; the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Federal Ministry of Environment not to shy away from the plight of the affected communities.

“We also advocate for the Osun State Government to set up a special unit or agency to focus solely on environmental issues arising from mining activities as we await the reclamation of the iconic Osun River.

“We owe our environment the responsibility to protect it,” he affirmed.

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