47m Nigerians Engage in Open Defecation, Says FG

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By Victor Ogunje

The federal government has revealed that the menace of open defecation won’t be allowed to constitute a global embarrassment to the nation, saying statistics revealed that over 47 million Nigerian population engage in the unhealthy practice.

This startling revelation came to fore, as the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has ordered the immediate enforcement of operation one house one toilet in the state, for sustainable hygiene and improved health status of Ekiti residents.

Fayemi, who said Ekiti had keyed into the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme of the President Muhammadu Buhar- led federal government, said the government would expend a total of N9.6 billion on the programme, which will be done in partnership with corporate bodies, traditional institutions and other critical stakeholders.

The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, and Governor Fayemi spoke on Thursday while launching the Ekiti State open defecation free (ODF) roadmap and flag off of Clean Nigeria: use the toilet Ekiti campaign, in Ado Ekiti.

At the campaign tagged: “Making Ekiti State ODF By 2022”, the wife of the governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, was decorated as WASH Ambassador, while traditional rulers are to be champions of the policy in their domains.

The minister applauded Governor Fayemi for setting a target that is three years ahead of the national schedule of 2025 for ODF, describing this as a clear demonstration of commitment to make the country regain its respect globally.

“Available statistics revealed that over 47.5 million Nigerians engage in this unhygienic act.

“Knowing that a sustainable management of water will improve our sanitation, the FG under President Muhammadu Buhari declared emergency in WASH in 2018 and we are taking steps to address the challenges in the sector.

“We are also not unaware that the national action against open defecation requires private sector, civil society organisations, government at all levels to achieve it zero level. This is critical to us as a government, because we have to provide the political will and public financing to fight the menace and bring down the practice.

“We want to assure you that my ministry will support you in ensuring that you hit your target of making Ekiti achieve ODF status in 2022.

“The FG through the National Diaspora Commission is planning to raise a sum of one billion dollars from Nigerians in Diaspora to fund WASH programmes. We want Governor Fayemi to use his position to influence his colleague governors to achieve the ODF status across the 36 states,” he advised.

Speaking further, Fayemi added that in a couple of months, the Ero dam that will supply water to nine local government will begin operation in full throttle, disclosing that the World Bank is partnering with Ekiti to carry out turn around maintenance on the dam.

To help the ODF roadmap and target, Governor Fayemi declared immediate enforcement of one house one toilet across Ekiti.

He added further: “Henceforth, all government offices must have one functional toilet while there must be one toilet in every public and private offices across the state.

“All traditional rulers should be champions in their domains and Ekiti Rural Water Supply Agency(RUWASA) should propagate the WASH policy across the 16 council areas .

“Government will not attend functions organised by any erring community and will ostracise any community without verifiable evidence of being ODF compliant.

“It is now illegal for anyone to engage in the act and there will be summary penalty and sanctions for any erring person or individual involved in this unhealthy practice.”

The governor assured the people that the state will engage private sector participation and will increase budgetary provision and adequate public funding for WASH programmes.

The Ekiti State Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Mr. Bamidele Faparusi, said the state decided to speak against the menace, because “it is disturbing that Ekiti is sixth in ranking in prevalence of ODF practice in Nigeria”.

While the European Union disclosed that the Egbe Dam in Gbonyin council area will supply 66,000 cubic metres of daily water supply when completed, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed that about 1.4 million of Ekiti population engage in open defecation.