OrderPaperToday – The Senate has said that Nigeria loses over N455 billion every year due to poor sanitation, as it seeks to prohibit open urination and defecation in the country by establishing a Clean Nigeria Agency.

A bill to that effect sponsored by Sen. Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo) scaled second reading in the Senate on Wednesday.

Leading debate, the lawmaker recalled that on 20th November, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Executive Order 009 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 conceptualised to give a legal framework for the execution of the Presidential Executive Order,” Ordia said.

Sen. Ordia 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.

“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.

He also said that 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.

Sen. Ordia also said that apart from the stench that emanates from Open Urination and defecation sites, such sites also provides a breeding ground for diseases causing organisms.

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.

The bill was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Water Resources to report back in four (4) weeks.

Recall that the federal government had said that 47 million citizens lack access to toilets.

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