SANI Muhammad Sani
Additional 33 LGAs now Open Defecation Free, 36 States launch End Open Defecation campaign
Even as the Buhari administration remains committed to the delivery of sustainable sanitation and hygiene services to all Nigerians, effective collaboration among all levels of government and the private sector will ensure the country achieves its goal to end open defecation by 2025, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Osinbajo stated this at the virtual meeting of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Steering Committee to review progress report of implementation of the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign under the national programme to End Open Defecation in Nigeria. Speaking at the virtual meeting of the Committee, its first this year, the VP stated that, “If we work conscientiously, we can really make our country open defecation free by 2025. It is entirely possible, and we must not rest on our oars as we push for the delivery of sustainable sanitation and hygiene services for all Nigerians.” The Vice President further said the current momentum should be seized to ensure speedy deliverables by the campaign. According to the VP, “we are at the cusp of real acceleration if we seize the current momentum. So, it is time to align our efforts at all levels and commit ourselves to using all of our spheres of influence in advancing the objectives of the campaign; we must continue strong advocacy to policy makers and the general public, and of course, the ever-present issue of increased funding that is needed practically at all levels.” While commending the progress recorded so far in the campaign, the Vice President noted that more needs to be done to ensure all the goals and objectives are achieved. The Vice President commended the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, and his team “for their commitment and hard work, and for the effective coordination of the several programmes.” Prof. Osinbajo further said that the National Economic Council (NEC) will continue to find ways to work with State governments to improve results, noting that “there is a great need for us to engage even more with the states.” He also pointed out the need to also engage more with the private sector in meeting with the objectives of the campaign, while noting that, so far, input of civil society organisations, private sector, development partners and the media have been invaluable. “We must pay more attention to the way we leverage more on the private sector; this is absolutely important. There are so many who could consider this a low hanging as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) measure if we want to get them even more interested in this. Somehow if we can find a way to involve them much more, we might be able to get increasingly better results,” he noted. During his presentation, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Adamu, stated that there has been a surge in the number of States that have launched their State campaigns from 19 in 2020, to 36 in 2021. The Minister also noted that between January and May 2021, an additional 33 LGAs have achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, while an estimated 15 million persons across the 774 LGAs nationwide have been reached with key campaign messages, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA). “The whole campaign is focused on encouraging citizens to take sanitation as a personal responsibility,” Engr Adamu stated. The virtual meeting was attended by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola; Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan; the National Coordinator, Organised Private Sector in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH), Dr. Nicholas Igwe; UNICEF’s Chief of WASH Nigeria, Jane Bevan; the World Bank representative, its operations Manager, Kathy Whimp, among others.