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Nigeria can be open defecation free by 2025 – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says effective collaboration among the three ties of government and the private sector will ensure that the country achieves its goal to end open defecation by 2025.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at a virtual meeting of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Steering Committee.

The meeting was to review progress report of implementation of the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ campaign under the national programme to End Open Defecation in Nigeria.

Osinbajo said the current momentum should be seized to ensure speedy deliverables by the campaign.

“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.

“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 policymakers and the general public, and of course, the ever-present issue of increased funding that is needed practically at all levels.”

He commended the progress recorded so far in the campaign, adding that more needed to be done to ensure all the goals and objectives were achieved.

Osinbajo commended the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, and his team “for their commitment and hard work, and for the effective coordination of the several programmes.

Osinbajo said that the National Economic Council would continue to find ways to work with state governments to improve results.

He said that there was a great need for us to engage even more with the states.

The vice president also pointed out the need to engage more with the private sector in meeting with the objectives of the campaign.

He said that, so far, input of civil society organisations, private sector, development partners and the media had 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 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 said.

During his presentation, Adamu said that there had been a surge in the number of states that had inaugurated their campaigns from 19 in 2020 to 36 in 2021.

The minister said that between Januaury and May 2021, an additional 33 local government areas had achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.

He added that an estimated 15 million persons across the 774 local government areas nationwide had been reached with key campaign messages, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency.

“The whole campaign is focused on encouraging citizens to take sanitation as a personal responsibility,” Adamu said.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, Head of Civil Service of the Federation and Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan attended the virtual meeting.

Others were 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, Kathy Whimp, among others also participated in the meeting.

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