Lower Niger River Basin Authority (LNRBA), Monday, harped on protection of rivers in Nigeria, as it took tree planting campaign to Oja-Iya river in llorin, Kwara State capital.
The theme of the 2023 World Rivers Day is: “The Incredible Natural Cultural and Re-creational Values of Rivers and Streams in our Communities.”
Speaking on the sidelines of the programme, the Managing Director of the agency, Dr Adeniyi Aremu, urged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of maintaining clean water bodies, saying doing so was tantamount to clean behaviours.
According to him, the day is commemorated in recognition of 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 Nigeria’s rivers that are in degraded states and facing increasing pressures associated with pollution, industrial development, urbanisation and climate change mostly due to human activities,” he said.
Aremu warned that untreatable emerging pollutants from polluted rivers and water bodies usually go back to communities for consumption, thereby raising global concerns about increasing public health effects attributed to water pollution.
He appealed to people to stop negative activities that might constitute barriers to water flow in the river and encourage regular cleaning of drainages and desilting of river channels.
According to him, one of the reasons for choosing Oja-Iya river is that it is one of the main tributaries to Asa river, which is the main source of water supply to the Ilorin metropolis.
The LNRBA boss emphasised the need to bring the attention of the public to the effects of the pollutants being dumped into the river and which were eventually being consumed by the community.
He pointed out the harmful practice of open defecation and its effect on human health due to increase in water-borne diseases and other problems associated with ingesting and exposure to human wastes.
Also speaking, the Kwara Commissioner for Environment and Tourism, Sheu Ahmed, quoted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as saying that 11 million tones of plastic waste flow annually into rivers and oceans.
Ahmed stated that studies had also shown that by 2050, the number of plastic wastes in rivers would be more than the number of fishes and other marine animals.
The Commission, who noted that the rate of progress in meeting the target of SDGs in 2030 was too slow, called for concerted efforts to achieve the target.
In his remarks, the Magaji of Oja-Iya community in Ilorin, Chief Isiaka Awokegba, commended the authority for sensitising the community on the importance of rivers and the need to protect them.
He called for provision of proper refuse disposal across the community so as to prevent people from dumping refuse in the rivers.
According to Awokegba, waste water from gutters runs into the river, thus causing more pollution.
He therefore, appealed for construction of gutters for the use of the community.