The Statistician General of the National Bureau of Statistics, Yemi Kale on Tuesday said that one of the major challenges constraining the effectiveness of the statistical bureau is poor and inadequate funding by the Federal Government.
He said that while the federal government had continued to slightly upscale the budgetary allocations to the NBS, annually, the funding is grossly inadequate and far below the amount designated to statistical bodies in other African countries.
Kale made this known during the flagging off ceremony of the data collection for the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and the National Immunization Coverage Survey, organized in conjunction with the National Primary Health Care Development agency and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
He said, “The importance of data remains. It is exceeding important especially for a developing country. A lot of developed countries who have functional systems in place, they spend so much on statistics. Then there is no excuse for a developing country with high aspiration not to take statistics seriously.
“While making stakeholders agree that we need to be funded better we don’t get funded better anyway.
“At the NBS, we don’t use statistics we collect; we collect it for other agencies to make their work effective. If we decide not to work and just say okay, you don’t want to fund us, okay let’s be looking at ourselves. We lose absolutely nothing.
“It is sometimes very distressing when we need to beg to help others do their jobs.
“To be fair, the funding of statistics has been improving every year, even though it has been inadequate. It is not enough; it is not even close to some of our competitor countries in Africa. But every year, policy makers have given us slightly better funding than the previous year. “
He therefore advocated for better statistical funding as well as independence of statistical output, stressing that usefulness of data rests in its integrity.
He also pointed out that the federal government has in the past, ignored data trends on critical sectors of the economy and security which led to dire consequences.
“I will continue to advocate for better statistics funding and for the independence of the statistical output. Because if you obtain the data and the numbers that come out, you change it, you might as well leave the data untapped. So the data must not be tampered with.
“The issue we are having in the north east, the data spoke to it just before it started, we asked if the numbers where being watched, I guess nobody was watching it, until it became a crisis and they started calling for meetings to show them data that you have presented to them five years earlier.
“When you talk of double-digit inflation rate, it didn’t jump from 5 per cent to 20 per cent, it was creeping up, every month, and you ignored it, until it got to 20 percent then you started calling meetings.
You don’t call meetings and you do emergency response. You watch the data and use the data to reverse situations.”
Speaking on the survey, the SG said that the output from the exercise will serve as a major source of data for tracking the performance of Nigeria with regards to the attainment of the Sustainability Development goals and the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on households.
He also mentioned that the NBS has taken steps to ensure the success of the survey and called on Nigerians to offer their full corporation to the data collectors.
“At this point, let me make a passionate appeal for the full cooperation of all our selected respondents across all the states of the Federation and the Federal capital Territory, kindly oblige our interviewers with the requested information as accurately as possible.
“As usual, we assure you, our respondents, that all the information provided will be purely used for statistical purposes and will be treated with utmost confidentiality, as is required of us by the Statistical Act 2007.
“I also want to use this medium to solicit for the cooperation of the local community leaders and district heads across the selected enumerations areas we intend to visit, kindly assist our enumerators with whatever support you are able to provide within your local domains to make their work easier”, he added.
A Director at NPHCDA, Basset Okposen who made a similar plea, disclosed that the exercise is expected to commence on 31 of this month and run to mid-November.
Speaking further, Okposen encouraged Nigerians to visit health centres nearest to them to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic, while explaining that the vaccines have been made available to all states.