By Mohammed Kandi
The National Coordinator of YouthWASH, Mr Nature Obiakor, has urged political aspirants to give priority to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in their programmes when elected.
Obiakor, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, stressed the need to draw the attention of political aspirants to the challenges facing the people on water and sanitation.
He said access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right, hence the need for all stakeholders to put it on the front burner.
According to him, Nigeria loses 1.3 per cent of its GDP to illnesses and deaths caused by lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
He said that improved access to water, both at the rural and urban areas was an important factor for national development.
“Water is a developmental issue; education, basic healthcare, and economic delivery and others, as such, it should be in the forefront of national political discourse,” he said.
Obiakor said that Nigeria can achieve access to clean water through political will; saying that this should be promoted by leaders at all tiers of government.
According to him, over 100 million Nigerians lack access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene, forcing 40 million of them to defecate openly.
He said that majority of Nigerians make things worse by not exercising their franchise, adding that the upcoming general elections was another opportunity to elect credible leaders.
Obiakor said the group had started the Vote4WASH campaign to engage political aspirants and hold them accountable, should they fail to redeem their WASH pledges, after being sworn in.
“Vote4WASH campaign will not end at the conclusion of the 2015 general elections.
“It continues after the election, because we would demand that elected public officers deliver on their WASH promises,” he said.
Obiakor called on all Nigerians to contribute their quota towards improving their quality of life, saying health is wealth.
NAN reports that YouthWASH, an NGO, mobilises the general public to demand that political parties and aspirants show commitment and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s water and sanitation challenges in their manifestos.