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Toluwanime: An artist’s touch that lifts Jabi Lake community

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Fishermen’s boats at Jabi Lake PHOTO: JOHN AKUBO

In what she tagged Mercy Project, a Nigerian-born UK-based Gospel Singer, Ibiso Eleoramo, popularly called Toluwanime in partnership with African Centre for Environmental Protection (ACEP) reflected on the squalid living condition of inhabitants of a community by Jabi Lake and decided that a clean up of the lake and its surrounding would give them a new lease of life.

Prior to the clean up programme by the artist, the community had been inundated with strange diseases whereby children were urinating blood, which was attributed to their intake of unsafe water from the lake.

The three-day sanitation project tagged “Mercy Project’ was designed to help promote wholesome living in Abuja community.

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The singer said she came to the sad reality that some inhabitants of FCT are so exposed to danger associated with taking untreated lake water that is unsafe for consumption with all the refuse, debris and the attendant health challenges.

Describing her effort as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility, Toluwanime declared: “A couple of months ago I came here to do a music video titled Mercy and we shot the video on the water scene and when we did that I could see dirt and debris in the water so I was inspired and I said okay what can I do, just to contribute my own little quota to making Nigeria a better place and I am so happy that we could put this together and start this mercy project,

“I decided to come here working with a non profit charity organization called African Centre for Environmental protection based in the Niger Delta. I am actually originally Rivers by birth. “The organisation has club that teaches people how to keep their environment clean and safe and how to plant trees to conserve the environment.

“What we are doing here is we have to work with the fishermen to encourage them because if you leave them they may not do it. We asked them to come out this morning 7am and because of the heavy downpour, which I will refer to as showers of blessing, we could not make it at 7am.

“We came to clean the water and not just the water but the surrounding of the water.

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“If refuse and debris are thrown into the water, obviously it is going to disrupt the ecosystem of the water, you are going to have polluted water and even the oxygen in the water would be distorted as a result of the waste.”

A major partner in the project, Femi Adegoke, described Mercy Project as a very laudable one that is important to take care of the environment, and water.

“As we all know that water is life, this is a water body that the community depends on so it is important to make it clean. It is important that they desist from dumping waste in the water to prevent it from being polluted.

“There are economic activities going on here in the Lake like the fishing, they depend on this water body for their livelihood including maybe drinking but we hope they don’t drink directly but in the event they do we hope they boil the water before drinking.

“The project might seem seemingly small but it has a huge impact. I have done evaluations of similar projects like this and what I find very interesting is the unintended outcome of doing very small things like this.

“What they want to do is that they want to clear all the sourounding to move all the disposable material from the water. They want to enlighten them about why not to put refuse very close to the water body.

“These are some of the initiatives, clearing all these refuse and also ensuring that going forward this doesn’t happen again. Ideally, they should dispose their refuse far away from the water body because the refuse when they get into the water they cause more harm than good.

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“This type of initiative can also reduce conflict and build peace within the community because if you look at the partway it is a small one, I am sure that by the time peoples boats collide there would be conflict and they can start fighting but with the clearance that would not be.

“I am excited about this project. It might look insignificant but it is very impactful and I am proud to be associated with the launch of the three-day activity.”

He said the fishermen in the community have been commissioned to do the clearance, saying they will be taking a picture before the clearance and come back on a later date to see what the difference would be.

A medical practitioner of 15 years experience, Dr. Adaora Keazor commended the sponsors of the project describing it as a good initiative as she prayed God to bless the Mercy Project.

She pleaded with the inhabitants of the community to ensure they don’t consume the water without boiling.

“So please anything that will go into the mouth, water must be boiled properly, fruits and vegetables have to be washed and prepared well, nobody should eat anything that is half cooked so that whatever germs inside can be taken care of.

“We are near the water, there would be mosquitoes and all, we should try and wear things that cover up to reduce the mosquito bites, anybody not having anything to do with the water should not be playing around.

“Even where we sleep, there are different ways of getting rid of mosquitoes so we need to protect ourselves from all these things that make us ill. A clean environment will definitely produce a healthy community,” she said.

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The traditional ruler of the community, Alhaji Adamu Isah, said they have been using the water from the lake for their domestic activities since there was no other source of potable water.

While explaining that they are from the Agatu speaking tribe of Benue State, he added that they have been living in the community for more than three decades.

“Our major problem is that our children urinate blood because of the effect of the water,” he stated, adding that some persons and many organisations that came were told of the peculiar challenge, but with no positive response.

However, he pointed out that a women group came to give the children some injections against the health challenge of urination with blood.

The monarch promised sustaining the sanitation exercise so as to make the environment clean all the time, even as he appealed to the government to come to their aid.

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