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South-West states pledge to tackle open defecation as Clean Nigeria campaign review ends

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LAGOS – South-West states comprising Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osun on Thursday rose from a zonal review meeting of The ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ campaign with a pledge for renewed commitment to accelerating action. This is in order to achieve the objectives of the campaign and to raise its profile in the region. This was in line with the agreements reached during the National Retreat for States on Clean Nigeria Campaign held earlier in the year.

The review meeting, which brought together the state focal officers for the Clean Nigeria Campaign and other organisations charged with delivering sanitation and hygiene services across the six states in the South-West, was hosted by Lagos State at the conference hall of The Dover Hotel, Aromire, Ikeja on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May, 2022. 

In his welcome address, the Lagos State Director of Sanitation Services, Dr. Hassan Sanuth, on behalf of Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu, said that the Lagos State Government in a bid to achieve an Open Defecation Free Nigeria has initiated a four-point roadmap made up of Public Enlightenment and Communication (PEC), regulation and standardisation, bridging of infrastructural gaps and monitoring, evaluation and enforcement, to drive the state’s action and commitment to the national agenda.

“We have also initialised a Public – Private – Partnership (PPP), Public Sector Participation (PSP) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans in the provision of public toilets across the state in order to bridge the infrastructural deficit,” he said. 

The event was declared open by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Ministry of the Environment & Water Resources, Dr. Gaji Omobolaji Tajudeen, who also delivered the commissioner’s  address.

In his keynote address, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman H. Adamu, represented by Damilola Akomolafe, said “The ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign was flagged-off on 19th November 2019 by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The launch was followed by the signing of Executive Order 009 on Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 and Other Related Matters on 20th November 2019 by President Buhari, to give effect to the Campaign.” He stated that The Clean Nigeria Campaign was informed by Nigeria’s unfortunate position among top countries with the highest number of people practising open defecation estimated at 46 million persons.

The minister commended the Lagos State Government for taking the lead to host the first state zonal review meeting for the South West, and charged them to intensify efforts in achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) LGAs.  “It is our hope that states within the same zone usually have some peculiarities and can learn from each other and take home key action points from this review workshop to drive the campaign to the next level in their states, and also contribute to our national aspiration,” he said.

The minister noted that “Besides the exposure to diseases caused by open defecation, there are also issues of lack of dignity, violence and inconvenience experienced especially by women and girls. It is therefore imperative that we do all we can to change the narrative concerning the practice of open defecation in Nigeria.”

The plenary session of the review meeting was anchored by Nanpet Chuktu from the Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat. He highlighted the activities of the national secretariat to include sensitising individual states in the campaign strategy, rendering technical assistance and providing platform for public/private participation for possible collaboration as well as advocacy and communication.

Chuktu informed the audience that since the commencement of the national campaign towards the eradication of open defecation, only 78 local government areas in the country have been certified as Open Defecation Free (ODF) out of 774 LGAs in the country. This figure, according to the campaign secretariat though good, is not considered significant as more could be done, thus causing the national campaign secretariat to organise various workshops and retreats to assess the level of commitment in each State and render possible assistance where necessary.

Presentations were made by Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti States.  Each presentation was followed by an interactive session of feedback, comments and clarifications being sought by participants. 

Goodwill messages were also delivered by Mr. Abiola Kosegbe, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning & Urban Development; representatives of the State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) – Mrs. Adetola Adegboyega  and WaterAid – Mrs. Grace Uwadiale.

The South West Zonal review meeting was organised to appraise the progress made by respective states, identify gaps hindering the acceleration of the campaign in the zone and as a platform for cross learning and knowledge sharing. It was also done to promote multi – sectoral collaboration to drive the campaign. Oyo and Osun State were absent from the event. The next zonal meeting of the South West is scheduled to be hosted by Oyo State in September.

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