By G9ija

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) has urged stakeholders to collaborate in providing adequate toilets, to stem open defecation in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Alhaji Ali Kaka, AEPB Director, made the call in Abuja, on Monday, while marking the 2021 World Toilet Day.Kaka noted that the day was set aside by the UN General Assembly to be observed on Nov.19 every year, and this year’s theme: “Valuing Toilet”,  was meant to raise awareness amongst the about 3.6 billion people globally living without access to safely managed sanitation.He said that the aim was also to sensitise the public to provide and use toilets always, so as to achieve an open defecation-free environment.The AEPB director stated that the board began the commemoration on Nov. 18, with various activities, such as creating awareness in FCT communities on the importance of access to toilets.”We also engaged some government schools on essay competition, on the importance of valuing the toilet,” the director said..He further added that the world toilet day was about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) six, ”water and sanitation” for all by 2030.“This year’s campaign draws attention to the fact that toilets and the sanitation system that support them are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the country.“Today, the FCT administration, having observed the problems associated with open defecation deemed it fit to call on stakeholders to deliberate on investing resources on the provision of more toilets.“The effort will enable us curb open defecation that is being practiced here and avoid diseases associated with it,” he said.Kaka advised FCT residents to invest in the provision of adequate sanitation systems at their various homes, communities, schools, markets areas and other public places.Dr Joy Okoro, Managing Director, FCT Water Board, said that toilets could not be maintained without adequate access to water, noting that most people still don’t have access to toilets.Okoro said that the only way to address the menace of open defecation was for relevant stakeholders to effectively collaborate, construct public toilets and increase awareness on the importance of maintaining them.“We need a strong collaboration by other relevant stakeholders; we also need to work on our attitude, educate our people, especially our children who are of tender age.“We need to teach them that it is wrong to defecate anyhow and anywhere, let them know that the toilet is the best place to defecate. With the effort, they will know the right thing to do and in doing that children can also emulate the habit,” she said.Also, Alhaji Aminu Musa, Chairman, FCT Public Convenience Maintenance Association, said that stakeholders should endeavour to collaborate to achieve the goal of ending open defecation by 2025.Musa, represented by Mr Usman Umar, General Secretary of the association, also called on the government and the private sector to work together to ensure success in the construction of public toilets.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AEPB engaged three Government Secondary Schools, on essay competition on importance of valuing toilet, as part of the activities to mark event.The schools are – Government Science Secondary School, Garki, Model Secondary School, Maitama and Government Science Secondary School (Pyakasa), Maitama, all in the FCT.Meanwhile, Government Science Secondary School, Pyakasa, came first in the essay competition.