On Saturday June 2 2012, I woke up to see a photo sent to me by a colleague, Rotimi Ajayi. It took the sleep off my eyes. A deep blue/purple stream in the city of Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory? Within minutes, we arranged to go see for myself. Took me about 2hrs to get done with my Saturday morning duties, then we drove to the site, and surprise…surprise, it wasn’t there anymore. I only saw a brown colored stream. It had rained heavily the previous day and washed away the mess; mess made by the The Nigerian Security Printing and Minting PLC, Popularly called ‘The MINT . The colored fluid was traced to their office in Garki.
According to people living and doing business close to the stream, this pollution has been on, periodically, the past 2years, and gets washed off within 1-2months only if there is a heavy downpour. It also comes in different colours. Red, Green and other colors the residents couldn’t quite identify. It suggests that the color could be determined by the Naira denomination that was produced. The stream flows through area 11, area 8, area 3, area 1, up to Utako by Julius Berger, Wuye ,Utako (Assorted Gardens) etc. Amazingly, this colored stream also flows through the back of NEASRA building. National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) saddled with the responsibility of ensuring environmental protection and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in the country.
Little wonder NESREA has been accused of chasing only after telecom companies. This pollution is happening right under her nose and have lingered for that long. Well, sister can’t fight sister. The are both government organizations.
I am wondering how we (journalists) all missed this for such a long time. How toxic could this liquid being emptied into the stream be? How would it affect the health of those dependent on the stream, the fauna and flora? We do not have the answers to these questions yet, but will follow-up to get more information from both organisations. I only know that the people who have better access to the money being produced do not have direct need for the stream, but the poor Nigerian, who hardly sees all that money will have to suffer the consequences of depending on that little stream for livelihood.
We desire that our government agencies wake up and begin to punish offenders, however big or highly placed the company or persons involved are. We can not build a nation and a future for our children in this manner.
Our government should quit trying to snuff the life out of the average Nigerian economically, socially and environmentally. A conducive environment is also the right of every Nigerian.
Photos by Rotimi Ajayi. Thanks to Rotimi for not keeping quiet.