The National Task Group on Sanitation says the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari and governors’ spouses may likely lead the campaign against open defecation practice in the country.
The Chairman of the group, Mr Emmanuel Awe, at its monthly meeting in Abuja on Friday, said noted that this was part of efforts to make Nigeria Open Defecation-free by 2025.
He said that the Federal Government had shown commitment by inaugurating the campaign plan as a deliberate way to gather collaboration from all stakeholders to redeem the image of the country in the comity of nations.
‘‘We have made efforts for the wife of the president and wives of governors to be champions as open defecation free ambassadors, we know they are influential in their own ways; taking the lead is important.
‘‘We cannot fold our hands and watch India overtake us as the leading country with the highest number of open defecators.’’
According to him, the Federal Government cannot do it alone, hence the need for multi-sectoral collaboration to change the narratives.
Awe said that the inter-ministerial dialogue and partnership had gone a long way to show that strengthened commitment was needed to improve access to potable water and sanitation and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals target by 2030.
Mrs Yemisi Akpa, delivering a report on provisions of the Sanitation and Water for All Accountability Mechanism, said that there was the need for Nigeria to see access to water and sanitation as a human right.
She said that country’s efforts must tally with the concept of ‘Leaving No One Behind ‘ and sustainability in all policies and programmes for an overall impact on the populace.
Dr Priscilla Achakpa, the Executive Director, Women Environmental Programme said that the group had begun the process of carrying out assessment of prisons, noting the disturbing reports of recycling of menstrual pads.
She said that it was a matter for regret that issues of poor access to potable water and sanitation in parts were common in the country, and called on the civil society organisations to step up actions and advocacy to reverse the trend.
“The recent declaration of a state of emergency in the water and sanitation sector has shown the highest political will toward reversing the trend of poor services.’’
A projection of the Joint Monitoring Progress Report 2015 and MICS 2017 data revealed that Nigeria is unlikely to achieve the target of completely eradicating open defecation by 2025 and universal use of safe sanitation by 2030.
According to a World Bank 2012 Report, about 122,000 Nigerians including 87,000 children under-five years die annually from diarrhea, nearly 90 per cent being directly attributed to water, sanitation and hygiene. (NAN)