Poverty Elimination: Five Presidential Candidates Commit to Revitalize Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector

Ani Nwachukwu Agwu 16 February 2019 1

Babatunde Ademola (Nigeria Community Movement Party), Mr. Emmanuel Ishie Etim (Change Nigeria Party) signing to revitalize WASH sector in Abuja

About 25% of Nigerians defecate openly, placing Nigeria No. 2 in the global rating on open defecation. According to Federal Ministry of Water Resources in Nigeria, access to improved sanitation has decreased from 38% in 1990 to 29% in 2015. In the rural areas, 46% of all water schemes are non-functional and the statistics is similar in the urban areas. 

More disturbing is the fact that annually, about 60,000 Nigerian children, under the age of five, die of WASH-related diseases. This connotes a full-blown crisis situation and implies that water supply has deteriorated and degenerated in successive governments or administrations.

Launched in November 2018, #Vote4WASH is a national campaign rooted in Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals which calls for transformative budgetary provisions, funding and investment in WASH-related projects in schools and communities.  #Vote4WASH wants water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to dominate 2019 election campaigns and political conversations especially at sub-national levels of government.

Ahmed Buhari of Sustainable National Party signs and adopts  #Vote$WASH in Abuja

However, since Nigerian government had declared a “State of Emergency on Nigeria’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector,’’ it is therefore a national concern for all stakeholders. With the National Action Plan for Revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene; all stakeholders are called to action.

On this basis, our team reached out to five presidential candidates under the historic #ReadyToRun platform. The movement had organized a town hall meeting at Channels TV, Abuja on February 10, 2019, for engagement and in-depth interaction with electorates. After due diligence and engagement, we secured overwhelming support from the five candidates as they signed up to the accountability tool (Pledge Cards) – publicly declaring to support and prioritize water programmes, projects and interventions if elected into office.

The five presidential candidates include: Mr. Chike Ukagbu (Advanced Allied Party), Mr. Babatunde Ademola (Nigeria Community Movement Party), Mr. Emmanuel Ishie Etim (Change Nigeria Party) Mrs Eunice Atuejide of (National Interest Party) and Ahmed Buhari of (Sustainable National Party).

Mr. Chike Ukagbu (Advanced Allied Party) commits to #Vote4WASH in Abuja

Water is life and lack of it means death. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are crucial for good outcomes in health, nutrition, education and livelihood standards. When water and sanitation facilities are available and accessible to citizens, they act as primary barriers against disease transmission. Personal hygiene, particularly hand washing with soap and running water, has been identified as the most cost-effective disease control mechanism.

Nevertheless, Nigeria parades embarrassing statistics as highlighted above in relation to WASH. The implication of signing up to #Vote4WASH Pledge Cards is acceptance to be held accountable in terms of support and investment towards universal access to safe water and improved sanitation in our communities (urban and rural) in line with the SDGs, National Open Defecation Free Roadmap (ODF), Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) and a State of Emergency in Nigeria’s WASH Sector.

In addition, signatories to the Pledge Cards mean support and investment to ensure that all public institutions especially schools, health centres, markets and parks have inclusive WASH facilities and/or services. And because poor sanitation keeps people in poverty, WASH would form components of poverty alleviation schemes and social welfare programmes.

We are reaching out to electoral stakeholders – political parties and their candidates for Gubernatorial, National Assembly and House of Assembly positions; community-based organisations; civil societies; and electorates, to recognize; influence and demand for remarkable budgetary attention and funding for WASH in the grassroots.

Mrs Eunice Atuejide (National Interest Party) pledges for #Vote4WASH in Abuja

Citizens are enjoined to vote for candidates who have to upgrade and prioritize WASH sector. With evidences, we ascertain that increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) aids economic development, poverty reduction, education, good health and general well-being.

#NotTooYoungToRun Bill: Young People in Nigeria taking their destinies in their hands!

Hamzat Lawal 30 June 2016 4

Quest for good governance at the three tiers of government in Nigeria is compelling young people to be proactive in their agitations for equity and fairness in the polity, which are some of the major ingredients for sustainable democratic system anywhere in the world. #NotTooYoungToRun, a recently launched campaign, an initiative of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) is currently taking the lead in correcting the several archaic notions and popular misconceptions that young persons in Nigeria are unfit to hold political leadership positions, and as such they are not to be given important in space in the corridor of power.

Speaking at Public Debate held in Abuja yesterday, Samson Itodo, Coordinator YIAGA and the initiator of #NotTooYoungToRun said the campaign is aimed at ensuring that young persons in Nigeria (above 18 and below age 35) be given opportunities to run for elective positions in government through #NotTooYoungToRun Bill. Itodo added that the Public Debate is targeted at stimulating public discourse on the rational and general principles of the Bill. “The debate will enlighten citizens on the role of the legislature, constitution review process and strategies for engaging state and federal legislators” he explained.

Honourable Tony Nwulu, Representing Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency 2 of Lagos State, who has also been the major sponsor of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill which according to him has just passed the second reading in the hollow chamber of 8th National Assembly said “Young people in Nigeria have great potentials to be great leaders just like their counterparts in developed nations but it is quite disheartening that plethora of challenges are militating against them, the biggest challenge being lack of legal framework and constitutional backing for them to run for elective offices before age 35.

“It contravenes the fundamental human rights that any young person above 18 who has the right to vote, right to get married and be responsible for his or her family to be asked to wait for another twelve or fifteen years before he could be allowed to run for elective positions” he posited

Nwulu added that there is urgent need for constitutional review to ensure that these young intelligent Nigerians are given their space to run for political offices come 2019 and if possible before then. He further added that through this campaign young Nigerians are giving the older generation leaders a lifeline.

Jude Iloh, Country Representative, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) who also gave an insightful speech at the event said older generation of leaders in Nigeria have completely made a mess of the government. “Old politicians in Nigeria only get energised when it comes to the issues of partisan politics, doing everything within their powers to overshadow the efforts of younger political aspirants contesting for political offices, thereby preventing them from making meaningful contributions at the decision making levels and government policies.” Ilo further encouraged the Nigerian youths not to relent in their pursuits in getting #NotTooYoungToRun Bill passed into law.