A bill seeking to establish the Clean Nigeria Agency and prohibit open urination and defecation in the country, was on Monday December 6 rejected by Federal Ministries of Finance, Environment and other critical stakeholders in the environment sector.
The bill titled “A Bill for an Act to establish the Clean Nigeria Agency for the purpose, among others, to prohibit Open Urination/Open Defecation in order to keep Nigeria clean and disease free and other matters connected thereto, 2021” was sponsored by Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo Central).
The ministries and other critical stakeholders spoke against the piece of legislation at a one-day public hearing on the bill organised by the Senate Committee on Water Resources at the National Assembly, Abuja.
They stated that it is unnecessary to establish a new agency to fight open urination and defecation in a country with an estimated 46 million people with no access to toilets.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Water Resources, Senator Bello Mandiya (APC, Katsina) in his opening remark noted that there is an urgent need to eradicate open urination and defecation in the country because of their adverse effect on the environment and health of the people.
“This Bill seeks to create an agency to prohibit open urination and defecation in the country.
“This is very clear because we know what this causes.
“Unfortunately for this purpose, Nigeria is among the highest if not the highest country practising open defecation.
“So there is a need to do everything possible to eradicate it.”
Senator Ordia, in his presentation, said the bill seeks to make rules and issue guidelines and regulations for the construction and operations of public toilets. He added that when established, the agency would certify public toilet facilities to be fit for use by members of the public.
However the ministries and other stakeholders opposed the bill on grounds of preventing further proliferation of government agencies, paucity of funds and duplication of functions.
Director of Legal Services, Ministry of Environment, Mrs Obayagbo Helen, said the ministry was opposed to the passage of the bill.
“Creating an agency for a fragment of one component of sanitation would mean creating more than 15 agencies for sanitation issues alone. This would mean wastage of scarce government resources. Besides, there are too many federal government agencies in existence currently and most of them self-sustaining but depend on the already very thin resources of the Federal Government.”
National President of the Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), Mr Jamilu Shuaibu on his own part said the bill was inconsistent with the provisions of the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended. He said the agency if established, would be an additional liability and additional cost of governance.
According to Shuaibu, the 774 local government areas have been implementing the role through their environmental health services department and units.