The Lower Niger River Basin Authority (LNRBA) has admonished Nigerians to desist from defecating and dumping of refuse inside the nation’s river ways.
Dr Adeniyi Aremu, the Managing Director of the authority, gave the warning while delivering a speech to mark the 2022 World Rivers Day celebration in Ilorin.
He explained that defecating inside rivers would pollute the waterways and predispose people to water borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.
“Open defecation usually occur next to river ways, so that the river can carry it from one location to another.
“The day themed: ‘Rights of Rivers’, is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the world’s waterways and river systems in order to highlight the many values of rivers and increase public awareness around rivers,” said Aremu.
He said that marking the day would serve to promote and improve stewardship of all rivers around the world.
Aremu said the theme recognised the incredible natural, cultural and recreational values of rivers and streams as well as the extent to which they add to quality of life.
“The celebration is intended to draw attention to the Nigerian rivers that are in degraded states and facing increasing pressures associated with pollution, industrial development, urbanisation and climate change mostly due to human activities.
“Rivers are arteries of the planet and need its course too flow. We must let water unite us as we cannot live without water,” he said.
Aremu encouraged regular cleaning of drainages and desalting of rivers channels in Kwara and Nigeria as a whole.
Citing the Yalu river in Ilorin as an example, he explained that the river is the main tributary of Asa River which is a major domestic source of water supply to about 50 per cent of residents in the city.
According to him, it is therefore pertinent that the public know the effect that whatever untreatable emerging pollutant thrown into this river goes back to the community for consumption.
“The availability and quality of water have always played an important role in determining the quality of life.
“Hence, there has been increasing global concern in recent times over the public health effects attributed to water pollution in particular,” he said.
Mrs Remilekun Banigbe, the state Commissioner for Environment, emphasised the importance of rivers to humanity and the need to save rivers for future generation.
She observed that over 600 countries are marking the day, adding that millions of the world population depend on rivers for their daily livelihood.
Banigbe, who was represented by Mrs Elizabeth Samuel, an official of the ministry, said that the state government was planning ways of utilising the Asa River to solve some critical needs, such as food security and health.
She lamented that rivers are under threat caused by human activities including acid rains, dumping of industrial effluent and discharging refuse.
The commissioner warned that by 2050 there will be more plastic wastes than fishes in the rivers, if drastic prevention measures were not taken.
She, therefore, advocated recycling of plastics and other materials as a way of curbing dumping of refuse in waterways.
Also in her paper presentation, Mrs Mojibola Akinpeloye, the Assistant Chief Administration Officer of the authority, observed that rivers are important neighbours of nature, adding that it brings succour to life.
She said that rivers are habitat to some creatures, serve as a means of transportation, and also a source where water for drinking, industrial activities and for agricultural purposes are derived.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlights of the event include cleaning of the Yalu River in Ilorin by the management of the authority and other stakeholders. (NAN)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola