Mr Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resource, has called for legislation that will address Open Defecation (OD) in the country. It would be recalled that on Oct 2. India exited as the world number one with the highest number of people practicing open defecation. According to Adamu, if proper legislation is put in place the issue of open defecation will be a thing of the past. “We think, legislation needs to be put in place so that people who never thought that defecating in the open is a big deal will now know that it is illegal and that is the starting point.
“But then, the main focus of the campaign is to get people to change their behaviour so that they can understand that there is no dignity for me to just go and pull down my trousers in the bush and that it is dangerous for a woman to do same.
“So, when people appreciate that it is for their own personal interest and personal good, then we do not need to continue to hype it.
“But on their own, they will pick it and it will have a life of its own,” he said.
The minister said that studies had shown that Nigeria had become the number one country in Africa with the highest number of people defecating in the open and sixth in the world.’’
He said that countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India had put in concerted efforts to get rid of that practice.
“We gradually found ourselves going up the ladder from number six to number two and now we are going to be number one, in fact, I will say that we are number one in the world now.
“Because India has been able to move between 500 and 700 million people out of the practice, the entire rural India is now 100 per cent open defecation free.
“Statistically, they are 99.1 per cent open defecation free, while here only about 19 per cent have adequate sanitation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) criteria.
“While 24 per cent of the population is still practising open defecation, which translate to 47 million people in Nigeria.
“So, we took a lot of inspiration from other countries, especially India, if they can move that number of people out the practice and if we are really committed, we can move 47 million people also, ‘’he said.
Adamu said that Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign would ensure that people changed their behaviours toward open defecation and imbibe a new culture of sanitation. He stressed the importance for people to understand the need to improve on their sanitation and their health status.
“That is why we say we want to make Nigeria Open Defecation Free (ODF) and to ensure that sanitation generally is everybody’s business, ‘’he said.
Adamu said that to achieve campaign, it required political will and the leadership to drive it.
He, however, called on communities to embrace the campaign for the betterment of the society rather than seeing it as something that government was trying to enforce on the people.