The Government of Oyo State, in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), on Wednesday, launched the Open Defecation Free (ODF) Roadmap for the State, the Clean Nigeria Campaign and declared emergency in the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) sector.
The step was taken to bridge the access gap to toilet hygiene in the state and the country at large.
Speaking at the launching ceremony held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, said that the government keyed into the project in line with its vision to make the state clean and to eradicate the challenge of open defecation.
The governor was represented by his deputy, Barr. Bayo Lawal, who charged the residents of the state on the importance of a safe, clean and healthy environment.
He appealed to the UNICEF to spread the kind of pilot project that is ongoing at Ona-Ara to all Local Government Areas in Oyo State, saying that the state needs more of such pilot projects in both rural and urban centres.
The governor added that the Open Defecation Bill that was passed by the Oyo State House Assembly, will soon be assented to, adding that the bill will take care of not only environmental cleanliness but also deal with those that will run foul of government policies.
He said:“Statistically, by ranking, UNICEF said Oyo State is second in open defecation index. That is too bad for us and I think the purpose of this gathering is to create awareness so that we will know where we stand in things of this nature. I want to say that, as a government, we embrace this challenge frontally.
“The Honourable Commissioner for Environment is here. one thing that is key is, in order for healthy environment to sprout, germinate and grow, it requires the effort of all of us.
“Within the metropolis, we are facing a lot of challenges as we empty our refuse. The Ministry of Environment, Waste Management Board and the rest are doing their best to ensure that refuse are cleared regularly. But we need a lot more to do in term of creating awareness and I think that engagement is ongoing as we speak.
“The other point that I want to touch on has to do with the office of UNICEF. Oyo State is singled out as a pilot state for UNICEF projects around the Western states. Now, if that is the case, we will need their presence in Oyo State very strongly. I understand that they have an office in a particular state in the South-West but their activities are more in Oyo State. Common sense, logic and reasoning demand that your office must be situated in Oyo State.
“Now, I have listened to my friend, Jane. You have a pilot scheme at Ona-Ara Local Government. I think we will plead with UNICEF to spread the kind of pilot project that is ongoing at Ona-Ara to all Local Governments in Oyo State. “Actually, as the Olubadan said, we need more of such pilot projects in the rural areas more than in the cities. So, we plead with you to look into how you can spread your pilot projects to cover many more local governments.
“Finally, I need also to add that as the Deputy Speaker indicated, legislation is key to driving whatever policies government puts in place.
“We will ensure that sooner than later, the bills that are being worked upon will be looked into by government and the State House of Assembly, with a view to formulating, correcting and putting in adequate legislation that will take care of not only environmental cleanliness but even those who will run foul of whatever policies government puts in place.
“We pledge as a state that we will continue to cooperate and collaborate with all agencies that relate to poverty reduction, by providing clean and open defecation free society.”
In his remarks, the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, appreciated UNICEF and the Federal Government for partnering with Oyo State government in keeping the people safe, and to be able to live longer than they are now living.
He said: “It is a welcome development that the UNICEF and the federal development partners are supporting us to keep our people safe, and to be able to live longer than we are now living.
Earlier, the Chairman, Oyo State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (OYORUWASSA), Engr. Najeem Omirinde, said that the Clean Nigeria Campaign is a transgenerational action-packed programme aimed at mobilising the populace towards imbibing the culture of safe and sustainable sanitation.
He appreciated the United Nations through UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for assisting the Oyo State Government in its effort to achieve an Open Defecation Free status.
Omirinde equally thanked Governor Makinde for providing the counterpart fund for sanitation revolving loan, which the UNICEF is expected to respond to expecting the UNICEF to respond to, adding that the governor keyed into WASH reforms and activities towards increasing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in the state.
“UNICEF has technically assisted in the publications of the booklet on ODF Roadmap in Oyo State, which is scheduled to be launched today. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has been funding the Clean Nigeria Campaign Programme since 2019 and has scaled up this activity to a regional level in which Oyo State is to hold the next zonal retreat in September 2022.
“The declaration of emergency in the WASH sector and the launching of the ODF Road Map by the Executive Governor of Oyo is a prerequisite to aligning with the vision towards ending Open Defecation in the state.”