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Environmental Health Officer calls on Lagosians to be food-vigilant



An Environment Health Officer, Dr Samuel Akingbehin, has called on members of the public to be more vigilant and conscious of food items bought for consumption to avoid health complication.

Akingbehin, the National President of the Environment Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN) made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday.

He spoke against the backdrop of the poisonous cowhide sales, otherwise known as `ponmo’ in the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, spoke on the report of a preliminary investigation and enforcement carried out on the sale of the toxic `ponmo’ (cowhide) in some areas of the state.

Idris said that the three persons involved had been charged to court, while samples of the confiscated `ponmo’ had been sent to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) laboratory for suitability test analysis for human consumption.

Akingbehin also advised members of the public to report any suspected and unwholesome food item with environmental infractions to the nearest EHO’s office or the nearest local government council.

“I implore all members and stakeholders to be very vigilant.

“Ponmo is an item which is used in various delicacies but some people have decided to jeopardise the health of the masses.

“Let us be mindful and ensure that those perpetrating such unscrupulous act are apprehended to secure our health, ‘’ he said.

Akingbehin said that all relevant agencies and enforcement teams at the various border posts and points of entry should ensure proper documentation and certification of all imported food items.

“Other states of the federation and EHOs nationwide should be on red alert and comb every nook and cranny of their areas of jurisdiction in order to clamp down on nefarious activities capable of endangering the health of the public,” he said.

He advised that government should look critically into the employment of more registered professional EHOs in line with the Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON) Act No 11 of 2002.

“This is to achieve the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard ratio of one environmental officer to 8,000 human population, ” Akingbehin said.


World Toilet Day: Aliyu advocates private sector initiatives





Abuja, Nov. 18, 2019 The FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, has called for private sector initiatives to meet the 2025 Goal of ensuring that Nigeria becomes Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Aliyu made the call in a statement issued by her Special Assistant on Media, Mr Austine Elemue, on Monday in Abuja on the occasion of the United Nations World Toilet Day (WTD).

She stressed the need for greater commitment especially at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had flagged off the Clean Nigeria Campaign with Use the Toilet Initiative.

She decried the rate of Nigerians with inadequate or total lack of access to toilets, revealing that the FCT had a fair share of the over 47 million people lacking access to sanitation and hygiene in the country.

“Nigeria currently has over 47 million people with inadequate or total lack of access to toilets and another troubling 57 million lacking access to potable water.

“The FCT has its fair share of these disturbing figures.

“Therefore, the 2019 World Toilet Day is coming at a time that the Federal Government is revving up the political will to combat this scourge through a number of tools and instruments, programmes and initiatives.

” Which include partnership with the organised private sector in other to reverse the scourge and build a healthier Nigerian population.

“It saddens my heart to note that currently 102, 000 children die annually due to diseases related to sanitation. We must join hands to reverse this ugly trend,” she said.

The minister called on traditional rulers and all residents of the territory to see themselves as ambassadors and embark on the crusade to educate others on the need to desist from actions such as open defecation and indiscriminate dumping of refuse.

She affirmed that if the respective authorities fail to resolve the menace, the target to end open defecation in the nation’s capital city by 2025 may be unrealistic.

Aliyu vowed that henceforth, the FCT Administration would work closely with the six area councils and other agencies of government to scale-up commitment to implement the National WASH Action Plan to end open defecation across the territory.

NAN reports that the UN declared Nov. 19, as World Toilet Day (WTD), just as the Federal Government had a year ago declared a state of emergency in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.

edited by Emmanuel Nwoye/Sadiya Hamza

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Benue records 101 fire outbreaks in 11 months-Fire service



The Benue Fire Service on Monday said that the state recorded a total of 101 fire outbreaks between January and November 2019.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Service, Mr Doo Shave, told Nigeria News Agency in Makurdi that 90 per cent of the outbreaks was caused by carelessness.

He appealed to the masses to take fire safety business seriously and always install fire safety gadgets as it was better to prevent fire outbreak than control the inferno.

“The public should take fire safety seriously. You see it is better to prevent fire than to control it.

“We have recorded, from January to date, 101 fire outbreaks across the state, including the one of today.

“These outbreaks are caused by carelessness; carelessness includes carrying out certain acts or things that can be avoided or controlled,’’ he added.

According to him, people often ignore things such as installation of fire safety gadgets, smoke detectors, fire alarms, automatic fire extinguishers etc.

“Each house should have a functional fire extinguisher and all households’ members should know how to use it,” he explained.

Mr Shave further disclosed that the recent fire outbreak at Wadata Market was also caused by carelessness as the fire started at the side where chickens were usually slaughtered.

He further appealed to the masses to always ensure that they switched off electrical appliances before leaving the house.

The PRO also hinted that the State Fire Service was well equipped to handle fire outbreaks as it currently had five functional fire fighting trucks, two water tankers across six stations in the state.

He said the quick intervention of the service during fire outbreak was dependent on how fast the office was notified.

“People should get our emergency numbers and call us during fire outbreak. It is safer to call us than drive all the way to the office.

“Our quick response to fire outbreak issue is dependent on how fast the office is notified”.

On the inferno that claimed the life of Benue Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr Seker Akaa, his wife and two children Mr Shave said the cause of the fire outbreak still remained unknown.

He said the Service was still investigating the incident to ascertain its cause.

Edited by Donald Ugwu

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Taraba Water Agency enumerates 66,000 households for effective service delivery



The Taraba State Water Supply Agency  on Monday commenced the enumeration of over 66,000 households across five local government areas in the state to build customer data base for effective and efficient service delivery.

The General Manager of the agency, Mr Musa Siam, disclosed this in his office in Jalingo.

Siam said that over 90 enumerators were engaged in the deployment for the first phase of the exercise that covered Jalingo, Wukari, Ibi, Takum and Gembu towns.

He said the exercise was aimed at identifying, re-validating and updating the present utility customer database of the agency for effective water supply delivery and for future planning.

He said that as a self sustaining agency that would soon start surviving on the revenue it generates, a strong database of existing and prospective customers was very important for effective operations.

The general manager said that due to security concerns, enumerators were drawn from the communities to avoid possible apprehension and fear of intrusion that could possibly put the lives of the people at risk.

He called on the people to cooperate with the enumerators and provide necessary information as the data that would be obtained from the field would help the agency to serve the people better.

He said this would also help in addressing other critical issues of sanitation and hygiene in the state.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the exercise is supported by USAID Effective Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services (E-WASH) programme and will last from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31, 2019.

Edited by Cecilia Odey and Abdullahi Yusuf

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LASEPA seals 8 worship centres over environment pollution



The Lagos State Government on Sunday closed down eight worship centres across the state for contravening environmental pollution regulations.

Dr Dolapo Fasawe, General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), who led the exercise, said that the facilities were closed down to save the people from health crisis that might arise from the activities of the centres.

The LASEPA boss said that there would be no hiding place for any religious organisation which failed to operate within the ambit of the law, regardless of their faith.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the sealed facilities are located at 68, Old Ota Road, Orile Agege; 4, Ademola Oshinowo Street, Off Love Street, Ketu; 1 Dele Amuda Street, Lekki.

Others are 17, Ajileye Street, Ilaje Bariga; 39, Kusenla Road, Elegushi and Ajayi Bembe Street Abule Oja, Yaba, among others.

Fasawe said that mutual respect of views, culture and religion, which the annual tolerance day celebration symbolised, must be adhered to by all residents to foster peace.

She said that religious organisations were supposed to demonstrate good conduct, tolerance, brotherliness and good neighbourliness.

The general manager, however, regretted that the conduct of some overzealous churches and mosques had caused frictions in the society.

She assured residents of the state that LASEPA would not rest on its oars in bequeathing a good ambience to all inhabitants.

“ Those recalcitrant organisations or worship centres, known to be disturbing the peace of Lagos residents, will face the full wrath of the law.

“In as much as the state government is positively disposed to the peaceful conduct of religion of choice by its citizens, it does not condone infringements on the rights of other residents in the name of religious activities.

“The agency is inundated with petitions and outcry from residents over the insensitivity and intolerance of some religious outlets in different parts of the state.

“LASEPA regrettably notes that several warnings issued to the management of these centres have not yield the result,” Fasawe said.

According to her, the state government recognises the fact that the state thrives on peaceful co-existence among practitioners of the religions.

“But of great concern to the state government is the need for religious activities to be conducted in a manner that worshippers will not infringe on others’ rights,’’ Fasawe said.

She added that the illegal and unauthorised conversion of residential property into religious uses without recourse to the wellbeing of others and the state environment law was bad.

She said that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was against such inhuman act of social intolerance in the name of worship that could breach the peace in the state.

Fasawe explained that for the sealed facilities to be reopened, the leaders of those organisations must reach an agreement of compliance with the state and also satisfy other necessary conditions as might be prescribed by LASEPA.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde/Wale Ojetimi

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Open defecation can increase rate of sexual assault on children, women — Minister



Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Environment said on Saturday that Open Defecation (OD) could lead to an increase in the rate of sexual assault on children and women.

Ikeazor made this known at the 2019 World Toilet Day 10,000 Man-March against Open Defecation in Nigeria, held in Abuja.

She said that many women and girls were being sexually assaulted as they defecated in the bush.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Toilet for All: Focusing on leaving no one behind”.

The 10,000 man-march was a roadshow organised by the ministry from Area 1 roundabout to the old parade ground in Area 3, Garki, Abuja to demonstrate the need to end open defecation in the country.

Participants in the roadshow included civil servants, primary and secondary school children, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and Gbagi youths.

Ikeazor, who was represented by Mr Peter Daniang, the Director of Human Resources in the ministry said that the roadshow was in commemoration of the forthcoming World Toilet Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly to hold on every Nov. 19.

She said that unsafe and unclean toilets could cause various problems including the spread of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and, hepatitis.

“The sanitation crisis that exists in many parts of the country and the impact it has on human beings and nature cannot be ignored.

“The ministry is urging each and every one of you to redouble your efforts in ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to toilet, leaving no one behind,’’ she said.

Mr Theodore Nwaokwe, the Director, Environmental Management in the ministry said that the march was one of the strategies that the government had put in place to create awareness on the need for every house to have a toilet.

According to him, there are several advantages attached to every household having a toilet.

He added that open defecation could lead to death, among other things.

“Ordinarily, the government is not to provide toilets for the people.

“If government were to build toilets in some locations, it should be like a pilot project showing people the kind of toilet they should build.’’

Dr Edwin Edeh, the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria said that the march was a significant one as sanitation was necessary to human health.

According to Edeh, the theme for this year’s world toilet day is significant to WHO because it will help the organisation to galvanise actions among stakeholders and people at various levels to address open defecation in Nigeria.

He said that WHO had done a lot to support the government in the area of advocacy, training, pilot intervention on water and sanitation.

“WHO trained more than 230 women on domestic hygiene and sanitation in Edo and Ondo states.

“We have also trained 100 environmental officers and 200 community volunteers among others in Nigeria,” he added.

Some participants at the programme, who called for proper handwashing to prevent the spread of diseases such as diarrhea and cholera, also urged community leaders to ensure that people in their areas had access to toilets to eradicate open defecation.

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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FG has commissioned no fewer than 700 water projects in Ogun, Kano states – Adamu




Abuja, Nov. 15, 2019 Mr Suileman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, says the Federal Government has commissioned no fewer than 700 water projects in Ogun and Kano states in the last two years.

Adamu, who disclosed this at the Nigeria News Agency forum in Abuja on Friday, said the projects were under the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene (PEWASH).

NAN recalls that PEWASH was launched by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in 2016 in a bid to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Six and to address the challenges being faced in the water supply, sanitation and hygiene sub-sector.

Cue in audio 1

“I think the people of Ogun and Kano, which are the two pilot states that we started with will tell you because two days ago, I received a nice letter from a community in Ogun state appreciating what we have done.

“Between the two states, we have rehabilitated or commissioned over 700 water schemes in the last two years, so that will tell you something.

“We are also working with Ondo state. Now we have 26 or 27 states that have subscribed to PEWASH. So we are stepping it up.

“We are discussing with the World Bank with additional funding so we will be able to expand to reach other states.

“So, the two pilot states we have done have been very very successful.’’

Adamu said that funding and commitment from state governments were required to sustain the PEWASH programme.

Cue in audio 2

“There are two key issues that will sustain this programme, one is funding.

“If we can get the required funding in our appropriation at the federal level and the states are ready to provide the matching grants that we said they must provide under the PEWASH we are good to go.

“Secondly, it is for the states to continue to make it a priority that water and sanitation sector is a priority. If they do that then I believe the PEWASH programme will make serious impact eventually.

`We also need the support of development partners up till now we have not received any commitment from them except from the World Bank that is willing to provide about 350 million dollars.

“And after this interview, the new Country Director of World Bank is coming to be visiting and one of the things I will tell him is to step up, we need much more than that.

“We requested for about 700 million dollars targeted at rural communities. This has been the efforts the Federal Government has been making but it does not supplant the responsibilities of the states.

“They should be doing their own beat and that is what we hope they will continue to do.’’

Edited by Grace Yussuf

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