Olawale Ajimotokan and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The federal government has disclosed its intention to purge the habit of open defecation that is rampant in many parts of the country.
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who made this disclosure at the Nigeria Media Water Week in Abuja, noted that Nigeria is second in the world behind India with the highest number of people defecating in the open.
And in order to purge this public habit, the government has launched an Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign plan to fulfill its Ngor Declaration commitment and to operationalise the ODF roadmap.
The minister warned that unless concerted effort is taken to curb open defecation, Nigeria may soon overtake India as the leading country in this unhealthy practice.
According to him, “I tell you, three years ago, only 40 percent of Indians were using toilets. In three years now, 95 percent of Indians are practicing full sanitation practices. They have not only stopped to defecate in the open, they are also re-cycling their waste products. In the last three years, they have built 80million toilets. We need this kind of quantum leap in this country. By next year, wherever you go in the world, you will hear that Nigeria is number one in open defecation. And that is a national shame we must not allow that to happen.
“Kindly recalled that in 2016, I launched the document called ‘Making Nigeria Open Defecation Free by 2025’, with a national roadmap during the 6th national round-table conference on community-led total sanitation held in Akwanga, Nasarawa State. The roadmap stipulates the key steps the federal government aims to achieve ODF in Nigeria 2025.”
He said the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has agreed to champion the campaign against open defecation in Nigeria.
Adamu said it behooves on all, including the media, as a civil responsibility and natural process, to key into this campaign.
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the FCT Administration, Mr. Chinyeaka Ohaa, while welcoming the delegates, noted that the huge role access to potable water plays in nation development cannot be overemphasised.
Ohaa said it was important for all the tiers of government to accelerate water supply, sanitation and hygiene, as it is a requirement to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
He said: “There’s need for an increased investment in the water supply; all hands must be on deck, as the time has come for us to work and not to talk.”