The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma at the weekend stressed the importance of accurate statistical data in effective planning and development and urged close collaboration between users of statistics and producers of statistical information to enable the attainment of desired results.
He said the use of data should form an essential element in Government’s decision-making process as timely statistical information is expected to provide the basis for decision making in the governance of the country.
Senator Udoma who delivered a keynote address at the grand finale of the African Statistics Day in Abuja tasked statisticians to come up with appropriate and improved methods of data production in Nigeria, including the application of modern ICT tools.
The Buhari administration, he stressed is committed to steady economic growth and sustainable development which is why it places deliberate emphasis on accurate data collection, analysis and projections.
“Let me tell you why the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is important to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and in deed to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Reason is this: in order to get Nigeria out of the economic situation we inherited, we need to plan. In order to plan, we need statistics. So statistics are very important”.
“You cannot plan without accurate statistics and that is why we support accurate statistics and that is why we support the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to produce accurate statistics on which we can plan. After planning, you have to implement”.
He explained further: “You cannot know what you are implementing unless you can assess it; in order to assess it, you need to measure it; and the measurement is what the NBS does for us. So in planning we need them, in implementation we need them, because we need the statistics on the basis of which to assess our performance and determine how far we are going. That is why it was important”.
The Minister said the 2016 celebration which has its theme as: “Strengthening economic statistics for regional integration, structural transformation and sustainable development”, was in line with an aspect of the vision of the present government, which is devoted to raising awareness on the importance of reliable statistical production processes and usage for evidence-based policy decisions.
He noted with satisfaction that the NBS in collaboration with other data producing agencies in Nigeria is already putting in place necessary infrastructure that would facilitate the production of basic statistical information capable of meeting the expectations of the nation under the present democratic dispensation.
“As you are already aware, economic statistics and national accounts data provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of a country’s economy over time. A strong national statistical system with good infrastructure for collection, processing, compilation, analysis, dissemination and archiving of all economic statistics, is vital to national development.
“The African Common Project on the implementation of the 2008 United Nations Systems of National Accounts (SNA) is making steady progress in assisting countries to improve their economic statistics,” he revealed.
Explaining the importance of the SNA, the Minister said it is an overarching coordinating framework for economic statistics which serves as a conceptual framework for ensuring the consistency of the definitions, standards and classifications used in official statistics; and as an accounting framework to ensure the numerical consistency of data drawn from different sources.
“The African Common Project has brought together regional economic communities, Afristat (the Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa), pan-African institutions (the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the African Union), regional and international organizations and development partners to assist countries in implementing the SNA”, he added.
Commending the choice of the theme, he said “there is no doubt that this theme was well thought out, particularly, as there is currently the need to produce high quality economic statistics for Africa’s regional and economic transformation, and in achieving the targets set by the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and by the African Union in Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we want”.
While noting that production of Statistics is not only time consuming but time sensitive, he urged users of data to assist NBS as well as other data producers of statistics to resolve the paradox by providing accurate information and responding promptly to all statistical enquiries/surveys.
Speaking in the same vein, the Statistician General of the Federation and Head of the NBS, Dr Yemi Kale, said the scant regard accorded statistical projections in the past was largely responsible for the current state of the economy, as several warnings signs were ignored.
He said data had long indicated that perilous times were coming if nothing was done to redress the prevailing situation at the time but the authorities then refused to pay attention. It was clear since 2014 that the economy was heading for full recession, but nothing was done about it, he added.