The Discourse: The Proliferation Of Illegal Mining On OAU Campus Must Be Stopped

The Discourse: The Proliferation Of Illegal Mining On OAU Campus Must Be Stopped
  • PublishedMarch 22, 2024
  • Kazeem Olalekan

The Nigerian government has been paying lip service to unregulated and reckless mining activities, which are causing damage to the land. In fact, as against the image the government is portraying, I don’t want to believe that these activities have been going on without the knowledge and even subtle backing of the government because it appears more like an organised criminal industry.

As it is today, reckless mining activities are ongoing on Obafemi Awolowo University land. Some parts of the staff quarters of the university are seriously affected by the activities of miners. I am very careful in referring to them as “illegal miners” because, in response to this intervention, they might come out with certification that was given to them by the Federal Government.

I also don’t want to assume that what is being witnessed in OAU today is the case that some “powerful Nigerians,” as stated by Minister of Solid Minerals Dele Alake, are the ones spearheading the reckless mining on OAU soil. At least, the university management will not just sleep, wake up, and then sanction the activities of miners on the university soil, which is Federal Government land.

Meanwhile, it is necessary that we evaluate what we are in for if this criminal act continues on our soil. One of the primary concerns associated with illegal mining is its devastating impact on the environment. Unregulated mining operations often involve the use of harmful chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract minerals like gold and lead. These chemicals can leach into nearby water sources, contaminating rivers and groundwater and posing serious health risks to both humans and wildlife (students and staff in this case). The indiscriminate use of heavy machinery and explosives further exacerbates environmental degradation, causing deforestation, soil erosion, and habitat destruction.

Furthermore, illegal mining contributes to other environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, which can have widespread repercussions for human health and livelihoods. In addition, these activities threaten biodiversity and disrupt delicate ecological balances.

The invasion of OAU land by reckless miners calls for an urgent and very serious debate on the future of education in the country. It is unimaginable that a university such as OAU with a functioning Department of Geology will be caught in the web of the activities of reckless miners. Such activity defeats and insults the purpose for which the university was created. Ordinarily, the university should be witnessing groundbreaking research on how the country can leverage our minerals to solve the challenges of the national revenue shortage, instead of participating in archaic and environmentally dangerous mining activities. That is pure economic sabotage!

A grave ill of private and reckless mining of collective resources will definitely endanger society in terms of security. Reckless miners are dangerous capitalists who neither care for society nor explore global environmental standards. In fact, a peep into their activities at OAU staff quarters will leave jaws dropping because no global environmental standard is being observed at this mining site on the OAU campus. As it is, the Nigerian government is seriously not producing but plundering and selling off the natural resources of the collective.

Unless the tide is turned, the hallowed halls of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) could become another casualty of unchecked greed. Under the current administration, reckless mining operations are gnawing away at the university’s staff quarters, a blatant disregard for the sanctity of learning. We urge the Bola Tinubu government and our traditional rulers to act swiftly.

Imagine a scenario where, if these “illegal” mining activities flourish, the serenity and safety of OAU will be a distant memory. The environmental damage could push Osun State beyond a tipping point, mirroring the ecological devastation witnessed in Zamfara.

Let us not allow our “Ivory Towers” to crumble under the weight of neo-liberal exploitation. We must act now to halt these cruel activities and ensure OAU remains a beacon of academic excellence for generations to come.

  • Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes from OAU, Ile-Ife.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not represent the opinions or views of OSUN DEFENDER.

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