September 25, 2023

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Monday, said state governors are not ready to end open defecation in their domains despite efforts by the Federal Government to halt the menace.

Adamu, who spoke in Abuja at the second national retreat for states on the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign, said aside from Jigawa State, no other state in Nigeria had attained the open defecation-free status.

“At the federal level, I think we have done everything that we needed to do. The ball is now in the courts of the states and that is why this retreat was called, to keep reminding them that they are off-target.

“So far, as you know, only Jigawa State has successfully been able to meet its obligation. Some states are still upcoming. For instance, Katsina State is hopefully going to be the next one, but there are states that there is virtually no progress at all,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the event.

This, he said, was why the Federal Government kept reviewing the situation from time to time, in order to ginger the states to act accordingly.

“We have given every support and we will continue, but we need that political will at the highest level in the state for the campaign to have a lot of traction,” Adamu stated.

On how Jigawa was able to succeed, he said, “Firstly, it is the political will at the highest level. The governor took the driving seat. He made sure that all the traditional and religious institutions were involved. He brought in the youths, unions and everybody.

“So that is what we want. Mobilise everybody, social or political groups, every stratum of the society needs to be involved in this campaign. If that happens in other states, I can assure you of progress.

“The template is very simple. It is just for the leadership to take this to heart and provide the necessary support. It is not only about financial support, but to take the driving seat by taking charge and leading from the front. That is just what we need.”

The minister, however, noted that aside from the political will of the state governors, citizens in Nigeria should also take the campaign against open defecation seriously.

“I keep saying that once you have the political will and the people take this campaign as theirs by owning it, then it is going to go on auto-pilot. So, what we are waiting for is not only the state governments, but for the people themselves to own this campaign.

“They should understand that sanitation is a personal obligation and responsibility. We keep sending that message to them, and once they are able to take that to heart, then I think this campaign will go on auto-pilot. It can happen in 2024, it all depends on Nigerians at the end of the day,” Adamu stated.

Water, sanitation and hygiene stakeholders and government officials from various states attended the two-day function, where they pledged to further intensify the campaign against open defecation in their different domains.

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