Your Excellency Sir,
BEFORE OUR OASIS OF PEACE DEGENERATES TO
A DESERT OF INSURGENCE.
Let me start by declaring to you Sir that the vigour and inspiration to write you this letter stem out of the very little I have seen of you. Unlike many of your counterparts actively involved in Nigeria’s notoriously noisy political venture, you portray a far more decent political philosophy, yours appears more of politics of problems solving than that of points scoring. A far less lousy administration you lead today lends a veritable persuasive credence to this position of mine about you and this offers me some degree of assurance that you will act accordingly, should this humble piece of mine reach you.
Your Excellency, ‘mad men’ with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core values (apology to Chief Obasanjo) are about to completely seize our cutlass of security in this state, courtesy of ongoing and dangerously expanding artisan mining activities on our land, most of which are nauseatingly illegal and offensively daring.
In the first place Sir, Gold mining (even when carried out under the best of regulations and precautions) is perhaps the most destructive industry in the world, this I know by virtue of my training as a Geophysicist (with special interest in hydrogeology and groundwater). Gold mining effects are irrecoverably devastating to ecology and ecosystem as it alters landscape irretrievably and poses the greatest of threats to the oldest industry in human history; food production industry.
Perpetually present at gold mining sites are deadly pollutants such as zinc, cyanide, mercury and similar heavy metals that pose grave danger to both surface and groundwater. These materials are capable of remaining at the mining sites for more than 50 years after the mining activity has ended. Mining unearths huge amount of ores that bear these precious substances; gold, silver and other sulfides which on reaction with water in the presence of air produce sulfuric acids which most time seep into surface and groundwater, this is referred to as ACID MINE DRAINAGE. Acid mine drainage is over 200 times more lethal on surface water, groundwater, soil fertility, and pollination than acid rain.
Let me take it up from the water pollution angle, water is the life blood of human existence, this probably explains why the earliest civilization sprang up from the banks of great rivers and at the same time why insurgence is thriving in most of the regions where rivers are either drying up or being destroyed (Northern Nigeria readily comes to mind here). No society in human history is resilient to the impact of quality water shortage because the strand of quality water availability and growth in one hand and the lack of it and bone-crushing poverty in another hand are closely knit. Osun state is named after River Osun, as of today Your Excellency, this hitherto natural endowment is speedily becoming a poisonous liability to Osun people. As a matter of fact Sir, this great river and many of its tributaries across the state are on the verge of being completely ruined on the altar of reckless gold mining activities. Your Excellency Sir, gold is not more precious than water. Whoever consumes water polluted by heavy metals automatically becomes a candidate of either trachea or lung cancer, researches on global cancer statistics continues to indicate scary upsurge in areas where mining activities are prevalent. The question now is, Will it not be disastrous for us as a people if after Osun Osogbo festival, a festival with towering tourism pedigree of international recognition, lung and trachea cancers start raging all over the place (God forbids)? While our surface and groundwater are under serious threat, for now, surface water is the worst hit and we have a sacred duty to do something before it is too late. Yes, borehole is the darling of every home today but groundwater doesn’t offer absolute answer to sufficient and lasting public water supply, this is a statement of fact every well-grounded hydrogeologist knows, dam water is still by far the most reliable for enduring public water supply.
Groundwater like every other component of the earth structure is a dynamic material, it is not only sensitive to phenomena due to endogenic and exogenic changes, excessive extraction of groundwater disrupts solid earth-groundwater hydrostatic equilibrium and thus provokes earthquake occurrence. What this simply implies is that excessive exploitation of groundwater promises future environmental doom of an unimaginable consequences. Your Excellency Sir, the future of our public water supply lies in the dammed surface water and we have a crucial duty to protect it. I do not know whether His Excellency has noticed the sudden disappearance of those fishermen, mostly Hausas, who used to operate on Osun River? Yes, they have disappeared almost completely because their naturally occurring yet dependable engine of economic opportunity has suffered an awful rape from metallic pollution. Heavy metal not only hinders aquatic lives procreation, it stunts their growth. Their harvests must have been very poor in quantity and quality, and hence their abandonment of what must have turned an unrewarding adventure for them. The most important questions now are: where are those Hausas? What are they now into? It is worth reflecting on Sir.
As you are already aware Your Excellency, only a fellow who seeks to know poverty and insecurity in its raw form will pick most parts of Northwestern Nigeria to holiday these days. The story of their journey into infamies was deliberate, procedural and significantly traceable to notoriously illegal artisan gold mining venture. Gold like many other mineral is a finite natural resource. After years of massive yet blind gold exploitation in some parts of Northwest, the gold deposit began to wane, the blood-sucking ‘shylock’ masquerading as gold mining investors began to migrate elsewhere, leaving behind army of youthful labourers with squandered hope, ruined future and whose only inheritance in the heinous trade were weapons procured for them by their criminal employers. Of course already, these were system-made ill-fated youths limited not by capabilities but by lack of facilities and opportunities in an elite-oriented system that exposes hardworking ordinary citizens to chronic poverty and social insecurity. Polluted air, water and devastated landscape, well compounded by ruinous effects of climate change further sealed their gloomy prospect. In all of these, their kleptocratic and visionless elites in government were gyrating wildly in the vaingloriousness of illusions and delusions created by gold-powered wealth and glamour of power and influence. In the end, a real first set of abominable ‘graduates’ from their now globally recognized university of banditry had been “convocated” and unleashed on their forests. Today, the elites just watch in wretched ineptitude as their land burns. Meanwhile, to my greatest concern and worry Sir, the awkward template of a state like Zamfara on gold mining operations seems to be what we are now adopting in Osun state, their perilous blueprint appears to be guiding our operations while fully armed gold mining labourers of well-established criminal portfolios from their region are daily trooping in massively to lead artisan mining operations on our goldmines that are scattered all over the state. Expectedly, it has been stories of rapes, of harassments, of intimidations, of forceful eviction of original land owners, of destructions of crops, buildings and valuable properties and of maiming and even cold-blooded killings of our people. This is indeed worrisome Your Excellency Sir and it is important you act before it becomes too late.
Unless you act and urgently too Your Excellency, we may be heading towards the most violent and abominable episode of our history as a people in Osun state, nay Yoruba land. May the good Lord help you Sir.
Happy New Year Sir and wishing you a successful New Year.
Arinloye Sam Adebisi,
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