The Nachi Lake emerged ‘spontaneously, out of the ground in Nachi, Enugu State, Nigeria in 2011 and has since become a “health spa” of sorts. It is right to assume that if there is no explanation for the emergence of a natural earth phenomenon in Nigeria, “The Gods are to Blame” or “To Be Praised” depending on how it affects the lives of people who encounter it. In this case, The Gods Are to Be Praised. Bathing in the gooey and foul-smelling water of the lake is said by countless people to cure physical and spiritual illnesses. Millions have visited the lake for the “miracles” of healing, purported to be secured after bathing in the water. Nevertheless, what are the people bathing in Nachi, the land in a country that produced Andrew Jonathan Nok?
It is worth wondering why someone among the countless degree, masters and PhD holders in environmental science [chemistry, ecology, monitoring, protection, management, sustainability etc.] who work at universities, teaching hospitals, independent laboratories or environmental agencies, have not tested the water of the lake to find out its composition. In a properly governed nation, every chemical, biological and physical toxin/toxicant in a lake from its mysterious emergence onwards would have been identified, monitored and catalogued by the appropriate agencies.
If there are any dangers to people bathing in the lake the site should be sealed off. What is in the lake that makes it so gooey and foul [sulphide]-smelling? Sulphides are responsible for those smells produced when humans pass wind or when eggs rot, it is also a potentially dangerous gas when produced in large quantities. A lake is capable of doing that. For the stagnant water, bathers may have seriously polluted the lake with a variety of bodily debris and toxins, which are potentially dangerous. It is not free-flowing water and does not have a sustainable ecosystem. Has the Government of Nigeria (GON) not heard about Lake Nachi? Or is it waiting for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) to test and analyse the lake for them?
Nigeria is a nation so unnecessarily poor if you visit churches that claim to offer its faithful spontaneous, instant and irreversible miracle cures to their various illnesses you will see the unimaginable. People seeking healing for myopia (short-sightedness), toothache, malaria, whitlow, multiple boils, ringworm and so on as written on the placards held up for the healing pastors to see. These medical problems are routinely easy to solve by inexpensive visits to opticians, dentists and doctors or drug stores. As inexpensive as they are, the majority of the population cannot afford them. Cheaper alternative remedies and those provided by clerics only if a monetary offering is given becomes their only hope of healing or recovery. Unrestricted access to a ‘miracle-working’ lake is cheaper still.
The unrelenting and ever-erratic search for miracles by many Nigerians is increasingly observable. It is fuelled more by economic hopelessness and poverty than superstition and ignorance. Poor Nigerians with serious health issues know that if they had the money, they would do exactly what their rich compatriots do; travel overseas for treatment. Besides, the Nigeria healthcare system is not in good shape and dubious value for money treatment is a common experience for patients who use it.
“Lake Nachi water” is drunk all around Nigeria. The use of Nachi Lake for healing is an epidemiologist’s nightmare if it turns out the lake is a toxic cesspool. There is no way to track the countless Nigerians and other nationals that have visited the lake if it is found that the lake is laced with compounds that could cause serious illness or death. Toxins may take months or years after full-body immersion in the lake or drinking its water to cause health problems. That would cause the people who sought a miracle cure from the lake in the first place to seek yet another source of a miracle cure elsewhere. But it would also be another convenient ‘avoided cost’ for the GON.
Nevertheless, we sincerely hope Lake Nachi is not a cause of disaster or hazards for its clients but it would be necessary to know what is in the water. Are there no health / environmental budgets at federal and state levels of government for testing and monitoring potential hazardous lands and waters?