Mr. Yakubu Taddy, 57, a middle income Journalist in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State has a different idea of his profession. “It’s not enough to report without making an impact,” said Taddy, in a recent interview.
Growing up in a poor rural community in the outskirts of Jos, Taddy had a taste of lack. His father was a Native Authority Police. Native Authorities were 20th century administrative districts in Nigeria, which have now metamorphosed into Local Government Areas (LGAs). The NA Police were largely domiciled in and funded by the districts.
Taddy’s father was not rich to send his kids to uptown schools, not even to afford transportation for them. Taddy started off in a missionary school – RCM Primary School Zarmaganda, Jos, before the family relocated to Angwan Doki, a distant community in the south of the city. His father could only afford a low-class school located about two miles away. Taddy trekked to and from the school everyday, usually without food, till he graduated.
His life of service started in Boys Secondary School Gindiri, another missionary school located 40miles from Jos. His early experiences had already built a spirit of resilience and passion in him. Thus, he ranked top among his peers, pioneering several projects, including the school press club. His father had already instilled passion for news reporting in him. He often sent him to buy newspapers for him and in the process, Taddy read news and got interested.
When he transferred to a government school Keffi, Nasarawa State, he maintained passion for stage and literary arts. This spirit eaned him favours when he graduated from the University and went for the Nigerian mandatory graduate youth service program in Enugu, Southeast Nigeria. He served in a rural secondary school with passion, relating freely and happily with the locals.
On returning home, he worked as a school teacher and founded press and related activities there until he was hired to work in government owned Plateau Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC) Jos.
Taddy’s favourite beats have been education and agriculture. These he reports with specific focus on human angle and community development stories. In the cause of news gathering however, Taddy ends up donating from his personal purse to help distressed individuals and communities.
He has sponsored many poor children for national examinations, assisted many with the payment of their school fees, provided food to widows and orphans of conflicts and presently has a kid orphaned by violence on personal scholarship. But that does not seem to satisfy him.
Taddy recently started the building of public toilets in a suburb in Jos. A recent survey by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which ranked Nigeria as the first in Africa and the second in the world among countries practicing open defecation may have tugged him.
“In countries where people practise anal cleansing with water, it is very likely that they defecate in or near to water sources. It is almost certain that this will cause contamination when excreta are washed into the water by rain. The same is true when people defecate in wet paddy fields, as the water will eventually reach a stream or river” [WHO]. This ultimately leads to the spread of Waterborne diseases including cholera, typhoid and among others, diarrhea.
1.5million deaths annually by Waterborne diseases
Waterborne diseases, according to WHO account for an estimated 3.6% of the total DALY (disability- adjusted life year) global burden of disease, and cause about 1.5 million human deaths annually (125,000 deaths every month). This is more than twice the number of deaths caused by covid-19. Coronavirus, the world’s most dreaded disease killed about 345,000 people in five months, an estimated 65,000 every month – about 55.2% less than total number of deaths caused by waterborne diseases.
“Our population is growing and our capacity as a nation to control the health of our citizens is reducing. We have to stop this to save our communities,” said Taddy, Monday during the laying of foundation for the toilet facilities he donated in Ropwang village Du district of Jos South Local Government Area.
This addresses Sustainable Development Goals priority number 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, promoting Good Health and Well-being, another SDG priority (Goal 3). These two have capacity to drive the SDGs first two and fourth priorities – No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Quality Education respectively.
Rape, kidnap, murders during open defecation
American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1860; “good health is the foundation on which to build—a happy life, a community, and economy” (paraphrased by Ananya Bhatt – www.therandomvibez.com). Without good health, no one is able to work and earn. Children cannot also go to or concentrate in school. Thus, former World Bank President, Kim Jong Yong in 2017 said African kids would in time learn less and earn less due to poor health.
Taddy’s donation is contributing to prevent that. But even more, is the solution to insecurity, that the toilets would provide. On March 11, 2021, a junior Secondary School kid, David Solomon was shot to death in Dorowa Babuje village near Jos, when he went to defecate in his backyard. Many women and children like him have been attacked, kidnapped or raped, and some bitten by dangerous reptiles and/or insects while defecating in the open.
Beyond that, Taddy’s donated toilets are a relief to Government. General Manager of Plateau Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (PRUWASA), Mr. Peter Kassam, represented at the foundation laying ceremony by his Director of Sanitation and Hygiene, Mrs. Magdelene Jibrin said Government was pushing toward eradicating open defecation in the State. But to the locals benefitting from the project, “Yakubu (Taddy) is a lifesaver,” said a clearly touched Village Chief, Mr. Pam Chuwang.
Taddy’s effort is however a “tiny drop in the ocean”. With a population of more than 4million people, with more than 70% living in rural and semi-urban communities where access to healthcare and sanitation facilities is significantly low, more community or donor sanitation efforts might be life-saving. Groups, individuals and organizations could also donate to help Taddy complete the current and facilitate more projects.