The current state of the Osun River is capable of resulting a Public Health crisis for states in Nigeria’s South West region.
This is as the state of its physical defacing and contamination by heavy metals – Lead, Cynaide and Mercury continues to deteriorate.
Executive Director of a Civil Society Organisation, Urban Alert, Mr. Anthony Adejuwon revealed this while addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Osogbo, capital of the State of Osun.
According to the Civil Society Organisation, activities of gold miners in Ijesaland polluted the water which has the potential of jeopardising the health of over 2 million people resident in 20 communities in the state with varying health complications such as brain and kidney failure, hearing loss, growth retardation, anaemia, impaired vision, paralysis and death.
Adejuwon noted that the situation which has persisted for over three years is yet to be addressed by the Osun State Government despite inaugurating a Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee MIREMCO eight months ago.
He called on stakeholders in Osun to call the attention of government to the situation especially putting an urgent stop to the activities of the gold miners which has led to the current state of the water that also serves three major bottling companies in Osun and Oyo states.
He said: “As an organization driven by facts with a foundation firmly rooted in data, we carried out Geographical Information Analysis and Laboratory Tests to ascertain the cause of Osun River pollution and affirm the elements present in the water. Our scientific examinations revealed that the Osun River is being polluted by the activities of gold miners in some parts of Osun State. Further physicochemical and microbiological test has revealed that the Osun River has been heavily contaminated with mercury, lead, cyanide and other injurious elements.
“No doubt, the harmful contamination of the Osun River due to mining activities has put the lives of over 2million residents of Osun State in danger. Traditionalists, Osun devotees, local and foreign tourists of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove and over 20communities making use of the Osun River are exposed to cancer and other deadly ailments like brain and kidney failure, hearing loss, growth retardation, anaemia, impaired vision, paralysis and death.
It is disheartening to state that the government at all levels has remained incapacitated, claiming various reasons why it is difficult to end this life-threatening situation whose negative impacts would lead to the death of many in few years, if not currently happening.
“We are saddened by the destruction of the identity of Osun State, the cultural identity of the people of Osun State and the ecosystem, with no regard for the tradition, business and wellbeing of millions of Osun State residents.
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Osun State Government, civil society organizations and the international community to save the lives of over 2 million residents of Osun State whose lives directly or indirectly depend on the 213km river, which currently houses five (5) water dams, Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Monuments).
“We urge all stakeholders to add their voices to Save Osun River to protect the environment, identity, heritage, lives, and generations yet unborn,” Urban Alert stated.