By Bassey Udo
Only the provision of reliable statistics, data and information can help the government realise the targets set under the sustainable development goalsa (SDGs), the Statistician General of the Federation, Simon Harry, has said.
Harry spoke at the two-day meeting of the National Consultative Committee on Statistics in Kano on Thursday.
Harry, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the National Bureau of Statistics, said the provision of reliable statistical data would help in tracking and monitoring progress being made in achieving the SDGs as well as Africa Agenda 2063.
He charges the National Consultative Committee on Statistics, which is the coordinating body of the Nigerian Statistical System (NSS) to help in providing effective and efficient statistical data on the country’s economy.
As professional Statisticians saddled with the responsibility of producing official statistics for the management of the nation’s economy, he said the role of the consultantive body was crucial to the overall development of the country.
He drew the committee’s attention to the yearning for a new direction, saying this imposed on the committee huge responsibilities as producers of statistics for the country’s economy.
Although he acknowledged the past achievements of the committee amid constraints, he ssid there weres still enormous challenges ahead.
He said on assumption of office as the CEO of the NBS, his three-point agenda covered the areas of General Administration and Human Resource Management, Infrastructural Development and Technical Operations.
These thematic areas, he noted, were considered critical in rejuvenating, revamping, strengthening and repositioning the NBS in the short run to enable it effectively coordinate the country’s National Statistical System (NSS),a target, he said, has been achieved by about 75 percent.
To ensure sustained development of statistics in the country, Harry said the NBS designed a four–year Corporate Strategy for the period 2022 and 2025, to define a road map for improving the quantum and quality of statistics in the country.
In the strategy, he said there were seven keyp riorities areas, namely Organizational and Institutional Development; Infrastructural Development; Human Resource Management and Development; Statistical Advocacy; Data Production; Information Technology and Data Dissemination.
He said the design of the Strategy was a deliberate
arrangement ro ensure improved delivery of statistics in line with the National Development Plan (2021–2025).
Urging the State Bureaus of Statistics to ensure that relevant frameworks were put in place to guide the process of statistical production at the sub-national levels, Harry said this has become necessary if the statistical system in Nigeria must provide the statistics needed for the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the national and state development plans.
Besides, he said the frameworks would help in
tracking and monitoring progress being made in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as Africa Agenda 2063.
“These are key national and global programmes that require comprehensive, timely and reliable statistical information to achieve the desired results.
“In this connection, perhaps, it is pertinent to inform members of the NCCS that the implementation of the second generation National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) ended last year with some remarkable achievements recorded.
“These include the establishment of 30 States Bureaus of Statistics, improvement in statistical delivery through the conduct of Surveys and Censuses, such as the Nigerian Living Standard Survey, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), Labour Force Survey, National Business Sample Census, to mention but a few,” he said.
As part of the achievement of the NSDS, he said, were the development of a framework for the production of administrative statistics through a revamped Statistical Year Book Template and revised Compendium of Statistical Terms, Concepts and Definitions as well massive deployment of ICT in the production of statistics.
To consolidate on the gains from the NSDS since its inception in 2010, the NBS boss said arrangements were ongoing for the review of its implementation and the redesign of the next generation of statistics strategy.
This, he said, was expected to be carried out along with the design of State Statistical Development Strategy and Sector Statistics Strategy to drive the process of sustained statistical development in the country.
These achievements, he said, were to consolidate on past achievements and improving on the quantum and quality of statistics produced in the country as well as to inspire and motivate hardwork.
While encouraging State Bureaus of Statistics to replicate the arrangement at the sub-national level, he said the State Consultative Committee on Statistics would be deemed to be proactive and dynamic to complement the efforts at the national level.
Beyond the role of designing and implementing policies to address global crisis, he said statistical offices also helpd in educating the public, supporting policy making process and developing new standards and methodologies for collecting and disseminating statistics information.
As a committee, Harry said the NCCS should be able to assess how successfully it adapted her working processes to handle the demands on the statistical system during difficult periods such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
, He emphasized the need for the coordinating body to be more adaptable, innovative, enterprising, and more willing to explore the production of statistics using modern information communication technology.
Tackling these challenges, he said, required a better understanding of the evolving data ecosystem, the role of the official statistics and the need for a robust and responsive system.
“We must ensure we keep well-informed of these rapid changes, to avoid being irrelevant. This informed why NBS established a ‘Call Center’ and adopted the system of collecting data through telephones. The need to strengthen the capacities of our agencies to cope with emerging situations cannot be over-emphasized,” he said.
Failure to achieve this, he pointed out, would make it difficult for Nigeria to monitor and track progress in achieving over 230 SDGs indicators.
The governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, said statistical production required effective coordination to ensure consistency as well as eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts.
The governor said the task of planning and policy formulation could only be effective when statistics was promoted as a tool for development planning and evidence-based policy making.
He said one of the main concerns of government’s economic programmes was meeting the 17 SDGs goals in Nigeria through the timely coordination by the statistics agency.
To make this happen, he said government would want at its finger tips the milestones on each of the 169 targets and 232 key performance indicators in Nigeria.
Also, to address the situation in the country, the governor said there must be reliable and timely indicators on major sectors of the economy, such as Agriculture, Education, Manufacturing, Mines and Power, Health, Transport and others.
As part of government’s determination to achieve the ‘Change Agenda’, the governor disclosed that arrangements were on to reposition and strengthen the Kano State Bureau of Statistics (SBS), to cope with the challenges.
Apart from a well-established Bureau backed by law, Ganduje said his government was determined to provide all the required support to enable it function effectively and efficiently.
Part of the achievements of the State Government, he announced, was conducting 2021-Fulani Herdsmen Headcount across the 44 Local Government Councils by the State Bureau of Statistics.
The report of the exercise, he said, resulted in multiple policy and programmes formulations, while all Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies (MDAs) as well as the Local Government Councils would be strengthened and empowered to collect statistics peculiar to their operations.
He said the state government was determined to ensure the production of accurate, timely and reliable statistical information that would serve as a guide for good governance.
“There must be a paradigm shift in the way and manner government business is conducted if we must achieve meaningful development,” he said.
He assured that the Kano state government was determined to entrench a system that would eliminate the attitudes of falsifying information for self-interest as well as doing things without recourse to facts and figures.
Falsifying statistics, he pointed out, retarded development in the past, by making it difficult to determine where to provide essential services and in what quantity.
To achieve some developments, he said the government would provide the Bureau with all the support required to discharge its responsibilities of providing reliable socio-economic statistics for policy formulation, execution, monitoring and evaluation.
The Director General, Kano State Bureau of Statistics, noted the benefits of the Fulani Herdsmen Headcount in the State.
He said the outcome of the exercise, which was in line with complete demographic indicators such as human population, statistics of animals, environmental infrastructure, migration factors, educational status, and Health services, created a platform for the government to make informed decision concerning the recent ethnic crisis across the country.
He commended the state government for the support the State Bureau has been receiving, saying this has helped the agency transform into a meaningful modern data collection centre on government developmental projects and programmes, through the optimum utilization of data/information provided by the Bureau.