Osun state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola and wife, Mrs Kafayat Oyetola have admonished residents of the state against open defecation and other unhygienic practices.
The duo described the act as uncivilized and inimical to good health as it pollutes the environment and exposes the people to diseases and ill health, which can result to death if not promptly and properly managed.
The Governor and his wife gave the warning at the Campaign on Elimination of Open Defecation in the state, a sensitisation programme organised by the office of the First Lady under the IleriOluwa Development Initiative, at Aurora Events Centre, Osogbo.
Oyetola who described ‘health as wealth’, called on the residents of the state to refrain from acts capable of undermining and jeopardizing the quality of their health.
He said his administration is determined to prioritise healthcare which explains the successes the state has recorded so far in its health intervention programmes and initiatives.
Oyetola implored residents, particularly the stakeholders, to join hands with government on the need to putting an end to open defecation and other related unhygienic acts.
The governor further called for a consistent media advocacy, sensitization and enlightenment programmes where the populace would be exposed to tips required to continuously live healthy lives.
He pledged his administration’s commitment to continue to key into the Goal Six of the Sustainable Development Goals, that seeks the need to ‘achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030’.
“Open defecation is inimical to health as it pollutes the environment, exposes the people to diseases and ill health, which can result to death if not promptly and properly managed.
“As a responsible government, we have always campaigned against this unhygienic act and we shall do everything within our powers to ensure that it stops.
“We shall continue to empower RUWESA not only to provide water in the right quality and quantity to ensure adequate hygiene for our people but to also provide hygienic toilet to protect our people from disease and improve their economic productivity.
“The health of every person is the business of government and the source of the wealth of the state. I enjoin every citizen to take their health and that of their children and wards seriously so that we can collectively build a strong and prosperous Osun.
“Education and sensitisation are central to the war against open defecation. We shall ensure that this Campaign is extended to the other Senatorial Districts as well as their constituent wards and units.
“Efforts shall be made to engage in massive enlightenment media campaigns in English and indigenous languages to create sufficient awareness. Our Royal Fathers, pastors, Imams and teachers shall also be engaged to ensure that the campaigns get to the grassroots.
“We appeal to relevant groups to follow in the footsteps of Ilerioluwa Development Initiative and the State Rural Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Agency (RUWESA) by engaging in awareness to achieve the stoppage of open defecation.
“Our administration is committed to healthy living. This resolve informs the phenomenal steps we have been taking, including revitalising nine General Hospitals and 332 Primary Health Centres across the State – one per ward”, Oyetola said.
In her remarks, the wife of the governor, Kafayat Oyetola, who condemned in strong terms, the act of open defecation, called on the citizens particularly women to imbibe the hygienic measures put in place by the government.
She said the campaigns were put together as a step forward to complement the efforts of the state government on the quest to promote healthy living.
Mrs Oyetola who applauded the administration of government Oyetola for prioritising health sector, said, her office would not rest on its oars until Osun is declared open defecation-free.
She said her office had engaged in massive campaign and sensitisation exercises as part of efforts to promote healthy living and wage war against the menace of open defecation.
“Our concern is about the desire to get our people stop open defecation. The desire to see every person in this state get access to and use clean toilet across the state. The concern brought by this issue was based on the dire consequences of the continued practice of open defecation by our people.
“The dangers attached to this practice are so enormous and must be contained at this time especially as the resources available have to be optimally managed to derive maximum benefits for our people rather than being spent on avoidable diseases.
“So, our presence here today is a continuation of our campaign which started in the West Senatorial District and taken to the East Senatorial District. Indeed, since the inauguration of the campaign, We have been to a number of communities to enlist the buy-in of stakeholders of the communities.
“We are intensifying these efforts until we get every community to be Open Defecation Free. I urge all of you here to come on board of this campaign. We are very optimistic that soon, we shall get more local government areas join Ifedayo to be open defecation free”, she added.
The representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Mr Tushar Rane, called for a collective efforts to end the menace of open defecation.
Rane who is the UNICEF Chief Field Officer, Akure, commended Nigerian government, for the decision taken to end open defecation, saying the move will go a long way to place the country to a better position in the comity of hygienic nations.