Muslim Women Advocacy Group, FOMWAN, Champions Campaign Against Open Defecation
By Henry Odeh
As part of a weeklong activities lined up to commemorate 2021 Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) has called on government at all levels in Oyo state for the full implementation of the Law Against Open Defecation. Sunrisebulletin reports.
The Association which comprises of Muslim Women (Muslim Amirah) who are professionals from various fields of expertise explained that
the Association has observed with great bewilderment how Nigerians in both rural and urban areas still engage in open defecation regardless of the great danger such act portends to public health.
FOMWAN, Oyo State chapter, during a press conference which held at its state Secretariat in Ibadan on Tuesday 1st of June, maintained that it became expedient and imperative to commence it weeklong activities with the campaign against open defecation for the sake of public health and safety.
According to the Oyo State Amirah of FOMWAN, Alhaja (Dr.) Busrah Oloso, while delivering her speech, the Association is collaborating with various critical stakeholders in both public and private sectors in the state to ensure total implementation of Anti Open Defecation Law and punitive measures meted out to anyone flouting the law in the state.
The Association which was birthed in 1985 according to Dr Oloso, is actively domiciled in all 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja, and has continued to engage community leaders, market leaders, and other sectoral stakeholders on various issues bothering on the nation and societal wellbeing.
FOMWAN held that Islam also emphasizes personal and environmental cleanliness in both private and public life stressing that a healthy community is a pride of any society.
Discussing the theme for this year’s FOMWAN Week tagged “My Community, My Pride: Promoting General Well-Being and Stopping Open Defecation”, Dr. Oloso said the Association is seriously concerned about the inglorious report that places Nigeria as the first among countries of the world with high prevalence in open defecation.
“What informed our theme, and why did we decide as a religious body to lend our voice to the global campaign to end open defecation?”
“The answer is not far fetched. A healthy people is a healthy community and a happy nation. We are concerned about the inglorious report that places Nigeria as the first among countries with the prevalence of open defecation in the world. That report was presented by UNICEF, and it added that about 47 million Nigerians practise open defecation. This really gives cause for concern,” Dr Oloso said.
Dr. Oloso, while fielding questions from journalists lamented the unhealthy practice of open defecation and also berated such act which according her is already prevalent in both rural and urban communities.
“FOMWAN is also advocating stringent punitive measures to discourage the practice. For instance, some states have already made laws to prohibit open defecation.
“In line with this, we want to commend the Oyo State House of Assembly for making open defecation a punishable offence. The House in December, 2020 passed the Oyo State Open Defecation Bill, 2020 which when assented to by Governor Seyi Makinde prescribes a fine of N5,000 for anyone who defecated in the open in any part of the State.
“Also, anyone who owns a property and does not provide toilet facility within three months from the commencement of the bill, commits an offence and he/she is liable on conviction for three months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both.
“The Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), a network of Women organizations in the country with core values of protecting the interest of its members and contributing to their overall health, literacy and empowerment, is taking the campaign against open defecation to our adopted communities with a view to assessing the problem in the areas, and educating the residents on the effects of indiscriminate practice of open defecation.”
“We will also be suggesting to the appropriate community heads, market leaders, elected officials and other stakeholders, the need to make provision for more facilities – local and modern – for people at home and at work places to use to dispose off their faeces.”
“It is worthy of note that Islam emphasizes personal and environmental cleanliness as every time and place is for worship, a clean environment promotes good religious habits.”
“During the weeklong activities, we shall pay attention to the availability and types of toilets, places of defecation in our adopted communities and the number of such in the areas.”
“There is equally the vital need to know where open defecation is most rampant. Is it in market places, offices or homes? At the end of the celebration, FOMWAN will strongly advocate for more toilets and waste bins in the public places under consideration.
She however noted that the campaign against open defecation as listed on FOMWAN weeklong activities was not going to be a one off event as the association is poised to continue engaging critical stakeholders with the view of ending the menace which has been described as a big threat to public health.
“This campaign to end open defecation will surely not be a one off thing as FOMWAN is set to make it a continuous effort in all our chapters, branches and affiliates.
“I therefore, through you, men of the press charge the Nigerian Government at all levels, to intensify campaigns on both the conventional and the New Media on the need for people to desist from the habit as it contaminates the environment, spreads diseases, it is community unfriendly and promotes unwellness for the people.
Other Amirahs who spoke agreed that the campaign against open defecation is a collective course which requires serious commitment to win adding that FOMWAN is open to both local and international partnership and collaboration to end open defecation in Oyo state and Nigeria as a whole.