About 47 million Nigerians are presently not having direct access to toilets even as the country
leads others in terms of poor hygiene, according to the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu
Adamu added that only inhabitants of 14 out of the 774 local government areas in the country are not practising open defecation.
The minister, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Water Resources to defend the 2020 budget of his ministry yesterday, however, said President Muhammadu Buhari, would soon issue an executive order to address the unfortunate development.
He also said his ministry had started a campaign that is encouraging public and private establishments to provide toilets not only for their members of staff but for any member of the public that wish to make use of such facility.
“Nigeria is the second largest country in the World where we practise open defecation. 47 million people practise open defecation in this country. They don’t use toilets because they don’t even have provision for toilets in their homes.
“This is affecting our integrity as a nation . India which used to be the country with the highest population of people practising open defecation has been able to launch a campaign in the last five years.
“As we speak, 95 per cent of the people in India are no longer practising open defecation. Already Nigeria is number one in Africa in terms of the population of people practising open defecation.
“This is not digniying. It is not good for women. Girls no longer want to go to school whenever they are experiencing their monthly flow because there is no water sanitation facilities in most schools.
“We are declaring a state of emergency in water sanitation in the country and that is the campaign that we are pushing forward.
“Right now we have just 14 local government areas in the country that are open defecation free. We have thousands of communities without toilet facilities.
“The highest concentration of communities that are practicing open defecation is in the North Central. The Federal Executive Council has approved the campaign against open defecation. The People are going to be responsible for the cost of the project.
“Very soon, there is going to be an executive order to compel all government institutions,” the Minister stressed.
Adamu said as part of efforts to make Nigeria, open defecation free by 2025, his ministry would launch a campaign on November 19, being a day set aside by the United Nations as World Toilet Day.
He said, “For the campaign to be effective, we have to mobilise the entire country. We are now changing the focus. There is need for some legislation. Some states have already started banning open defecation.
“All agencies of government must key in to the campaign against open defecation. They must provide decent toilets for their staff. Federal institutions like schools and hospitals must also have modern sanitation facilities.
“There is also going to be some legislation to encourage the private sector to provide toilet facilities not only for their staff but for the general public.
“We had a workshop on how the private sector can key into the water and sanitation programme of the Federal Government. Indian spent $20bn on their water and sanitation campaign. They have created a multi-billion dollar sanitation industry around it.”
The minister lamented that his ministry had yet to complete a single project out of the 116 which the current government inherited from the past administration, due to paucity of funds.
He also said it was difficult to involve the private sector because of the nature of the contracts signed for the affected projects.
“It is difficult to involve the private sector in the said projects because of the nature of contract awards.
“We are, however, not discarding any alternative source of funding for our projects. The idea is to complete these projects so that they would be beneficial to our people,” he stressed.
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