Bill to prohibit open defecation scales second reading
A bill seeking to prohibit open urination and defecation in Nigeria on Wednesday scaled second reading in the Senate.
The bill which seeks to establish the Clean Nigeria Agency was sponsored by senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo).
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, the lawmaker recalled that on 20th November, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Executive Order on “The Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 and Other Related Matters”.
He added that pursuant to this Order, a secretariat in the Ministry of water resources called “Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat” was created to coordinate and drive the implementation of the said Presidential Executive Order.
The lawmaker explained that the bill is a product of paragraph 5 of the President’s executive order, which states that, “The National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly shall enact legislation on the practice of open defecation with appropriate sanctions and penalties”.
“It is against this backdrop that this bill was conceptualized to give a legal framework for the execution of the Presidential Executive Order,” Ordia said.
The lawmaker lamented that Nigeria, despite being the largest market in the continent, with a population about twice the size of Ethiopia (110 million) and Egypt (102 million)”, “Nigeria wears a shameful cloak, of being the leading nation in the world with the highest number of people practicing open urination and defecation, estimated at over 46 million people.”
“The practice has had a negative effect on the Populace and on the economy, making it almost impossible for the country to meet the 2030 deadline of achieving goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable development goal; which aims at “Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
According to Ordia, evidence shows that one of the major reasons for iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) among adolescent girls and young mothers is as result of worm infestation that is attributed to open defecation.
He said: “apart from the stench that emanates from open urination and defecation sites, such sites also serve as breeding grounds for disease-causing organisms.
“Research has it that a gram of human faeces contains more than 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs which can be harmful to human health and the environment,” he said.
Citing a 2012 World Bank Report, Ordia raised alarm that the economy is not spared from the scourging effect of open defecation as Nigeria loses over N455 billion or US$3 billion annually due to poor sanitation.
“According to the same report, open defecation alone costs Nigeria over US$ 1 billion a year”, the lawmaker added.
Ordia posited that the bill when passed and signed into law would, among other things, empower the agency to make rules and regulations for enforcing and implementing the provisions of this act; Issue license to private corporation for the operation of commercially owned public toilets; Certify a public toilet facility to be fit for use by the public; and Shut down any public place that does not meet the required recommended standard of toilet facility.
Contributing to the debate, the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba) said the passage of the bill would promote Nigerians to be perceived as a clean people with clean attitude.
According to him, “that is the only way that we (Nigerians) would be respected as a people taking the lead.”
The bill after scaling second reading, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Water Resources to report back in four (4) weeks.