The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has recorded an explosion in the demand for data and statistical information both from international and local interests. Key data request indicators at the NBS show that in 2005, just under 50,000 reports were downloaded from the NBS website compared to over three million in 2014, just as requests for data by walk-in users which was 23 in 2005 rose to 1,817 in 2014.
Last year NBS had the highest freedom of information requests and submissions amongst all government agencies in the country. Furthermore, in 2005 visits to NBS website was recorded at 36, 280 but at end of 2014, this was 7.5million.
Dr Yemi Kale, the statistician general of the federation, who disclosed these during the combined session of the national consultative committee on statistics, NCCS, last week said the external component of the demand pressure was dominant due to the declining growth and business opportunities in most parts of the developed world at a time growth was increasing in Nigeria and some other African economies.
As a result, he stated “several international investors are seeking investment opportunities elsewhere and attention is turning to emerging markets including those in Africa”. After the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, growth slowed to an average of less than two percent in the developed world, while many African countries including Nigeria recorded over 5.0 per cent growth rates.
According to Kale “the African rising story really started after this period. The result was a huge inflow of interest and capital inflow into the region. At the same time a huge number of international brands have come in and are now doing business in Nigeria as have international development agencies.
“Foreign investors and development agencies, however, require huge amount of data to make their decisions and with this increase in interest African and Nigerian statistical offices are being put under pressure to meet the demand and accordingly are being forced to raise the bar higher in the quality of data produced. On the domestic front, data demand is being fueled by what Kale call “endogenous” factors.
According to him, “one can point to an increased demand for data due to the increased insistence for accountability and good governance by citizens, as well as the willingness by governments at all levels to demonstrate progress and democratic dividends in various sectors. Nigeria just completed successful elections recently and huge parts of the campaign were arguments about data.
“Endogenous demand for data is also being driven by a resurgence in strategic planning and renewed emphasis on key performance indicators for outputs and outcomes rather than solely on inputs. As we are all aware, after many years of neglect, Nigeria, both at the Federal and across many States, has embarked on a process leading to a return towards strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation and accordingly, the use of evidenced-based policy as a means of transforming the social and economic well-being of our country.
“Accordingly, the significance of statistical information for making evidenced-based decisions that guide the implementation of new policy, monitoring of existing policy and evaluation of the effectiveness of policy decisions cannot be overemphasised.
“This point is especially relevant to Nigeria today as we are in an era of change. It is however, when we are able to collate, understand and interpret data correctly, as well as develop our ability to identify key areas in our society or our economy that require change, that our policy prescriptions and direction are more likely to respond to the real needs of the community and the real changes our country needs”.
Kale noted that the underpinning of this entire system is timely and reliable statistics, adding that as a nation Nigerians have become more aware that measuring progress is instrumental in ensuring the success of any development programme or process.
He also noted that Nigeria as a nation is faced with many developmental challenges in the areas of health, education, security, governance among other challenges and measuring the success or otherwise of these interventions and initiatives can only be substantiated by accurate and reliable data which is as important if not more than the programmes or strategy itself.
According to him the factors have created a scenario where there is immense attention and interest in Nigeria, as one of the major destination for growth and opportunities, and with it has come increased demand for information and consequently significant efforts over the last few years to improve the quality, timeliness and reliability of statistics.
Against the backdrop of the crucial role of statistics for development and the increasing demand for reliable and timely data and the need to meet that demand, Kale stated that NBS has developed the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics, NSDS, an internationally recognised framework for statistical development in several countries. Agency report