BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR,
Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, has raised the alarm that Nigeria might soon overtake India as the leading country in open defecation in the world, unless concerted efforts were taken to reverse the negative trend.
Adamu who raised the alarm on Tuesday at the Nigeria Media Water Week in Abuja, warned that if India exits from number one position in the middle of 2019, it would be a “national shame”, if Nigeria takes the position as number one.
According to him, “I was in India recently. This country has been mobilised on the issues of sanitation and open defecation.
“It is a civil responsibility on all of us. I will expect the media as a natural process to key in in this campaign.
“This is something that affects you, your family and your distant relations. You have a responsibility to disseminate this information.
“To make this country a clean country and open defecation free country. Everyone must be involved.
“I will tell you, three years ago, only 40 per cent of Indians were using toilets. In three years now, 95 per cent of Indians are practising full sanitation practices.
“They have not only stopped to defecate in the open. They are also re-cycling their waste products. They have transformed within three years.
“In the last three years, they have built 80million toilets. We need this kind of quantum leap in this country.
“By next year, wherever you go in the world, you will hear that Nigeria is number one in open defecation. And that is a national shame we must not allow to happen.”
The minister however revealed that the Federal Government would soon enter in technical cooperation with the team from India to salvage Nigeria’s situation.
He also pointed out that with the recent launch of the National Action Plan by Mr. President, there would be a purposeful collaboration in all activities towards achieving access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene for all Nigerians and a renewed commitment towards defecation free nation by 2025.
“If this is not done, we stand the chance of taking the centre stage of open defecation countries when India would have exited by mid-2019,” he said.
Adamu, who used the event to celebrate his three years in office, outlined some of his major achievements.
He said within the timeframe, that his ministry had completed nine water projects in states such as Bayelsa, Edo, Katsina, Taraba and Kaduna.
He added that seven water projects have been completed and are being waited for commissioning.
He assured that his ministry would complete many more water projects, dams and irrigation projects between 2018 and 2020.
In a bid to diversify the economy, guarantee food security and create employment, Adamu said National Irrigation Development Programme has been initiated, which is aimed at establishing additional 100,000 hectares of irrigated farmland by 2020 and another 500,000 hectares by 2030.
He said the project would be undertaken by the private sector and state governments within the same period.