From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, has declared that 61 out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria have been certified Open Defecation Free(ODF).
Adamu also declared that an estimated population of 46 million out of 200 Nigerian citizens still defecate in the open, the practice he described as hazardous to the well-being of the citizens.
The Minister spoke in Ado-Ekiti, on Tuesday, during the flag off of the National Youth Volunteer Programme for Hand Washing and Clean Nigeria Campaign.
Adamu, represented by an official of the Ministry, Mrs Damilola Akomolafe, described the programme as one of the interventions of the federal government to halt the effect of CIVID-19 pandemic on the citizens.
The Minister said: “This programme was launched two years ago and ought to have been replicated in all the 36 states of the federation, but for COVID-19 pandemic that brought about total lockdown of the country last year.
“The programme was conceived to mobilise Nigerian population on the need to maintain proper hygiene for their safety, because statistics revealed that an estimated population of about 46 million in Nigeria still practice open defecation.
“Let me also reveal that 61 local governments out of 774 in Nigeria have been certified Open Defecation Free, with Ifedayo in Osun State being the only one in the Southwest.
“It is my believe that the joint efforts now being intensified by governments and stakeholders would raise the awareness of the danger of unclean environment and help to build a more economically prosperous nation.”
The Commissioner, Ekiti State Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, disclosed that a total of 1,600 volunteers in Ekiti will be trained to spread the campaign across the 16 local government areas.
Faparusi said : “To ensure availability of water to sustain WASH and eliminate open defecation, the government of Ekiti State has completed rehabilitation works on Ureje, Ero and Egbe Dams. We have also carried out rehabilitation works on over 200 boreholes across the state while the Ekiti water plants in Erinjiyan and Okemesi Ekiti have been rehabilitated to respond to the people’s water needs.
“Our sustained WASH policy have started yielding results. Two of our council areas; Gbonyin and Ekiti West are now ODF. We thank the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring the safety of youth in the country, because this programme touches them the more.
“The engagement of 1600 volunteers, 100 from each of the 16 local governments will help to promote community engagements and cleanliness in all our towns and villages and will contribute to the growth of our local economy.”
Also contributing, the Chairman, Ekiti State House of Assembly’s Committee on Public Utilities, Hon. Kola Michael Arubu, said a bill has just been passed that stipulated fines for practitioners of open defecation.
The Lawmaker added that the bill would also regulate hand washing and cleanliness when assented to by Governor Kayode Fayemi.