By Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
The federal government has reiterated its commitment towards ending open defecation, and improve its drive on access to water and good hygiene to all Nigerians within the shortest possible time.
Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, who spoke to journalists in Asaba, on Wednesday, at a one day capacity building workshop on “Open Defecation Free (ODF) Nigeria”, said that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an Executive Order 009 (E009) to tackle the menace of open defecations in Nigeria with projection on a timeline of 2025.
Abari urged the national and state assemblies to enact laws, sanctions and penalties to deal with offenders. He added that reports from World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, and other joint monitoring team showed that one in every four persons of about 47 million Nigerians practice open defecations due to lack of toilet facilities; an action, he considered as crude, primitive and uncivilised, especially in this 21st century of human civilisation.
“It’s this that necessitated NOA with a mandate to sensitise, mobilise and orientate the Nigerian populace on government’s programme, policies and activities to ensure the actualisation of the presidential project of ODF in Nigeria by 2025.
He charged staffers of the orientation agency to step down the ODF to everyone in their locality.
In his remarks, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, represented by Chief Technical Officer at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Ugoji Clara Adamma, said that available statistics indicated that more than 40 million Nigerians lacked access to toilet facilities, thereby, engaging in open defecation, adding that the ministry, having realised the strategic role of the NOA in reaching out to Nigerians, embarked on partnership in order to adequately sensitise the populace and commended NOA for the collaboration.
The state Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Martins Okonta, disclosed that the Delta state government, through his ministry, had keyed into the water sensitisation and hygiene (WASH), Rural Water Supply Agency (RUWASA) Community led Total sensitization ( CLTS) and UNICEF sensitisation programme.
In his contributions, the deputy director of NOA, Delta state, Mrs, Tracy Oduduru Ikolomi, said that the directive empowered states and local governments to adopt measures at preventing open defecation; adding that NOA would embark on aggressive campaigns against the practice in the 25 local government areas of the state.
She, however, appealed to Nigerians to the join the campaigns to end the menace before the year 2025 deadline, noting that “Nigeria is giant of Africa, and we were taking leads in everything, but one thing we would not like to take a lead was Nigeria stepping into number one position in open defecation.”