• Thursday, December 07, 2023
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NBS moves to retool national data management strategy

Politics of Statistics in Nigeria

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has commenced a re-crafting of its data development system in a new strategy that would involve a critical component of establishing data innovation lab in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), world bank and the Africa Development bank (AfDB) as key technical and financial partners.

The new strategy, Adeyemi Adeniran, Statistician General of the Federation said on Tuesday would embrace the latest technological advancements to streamline data collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination processes, and a possible deployment of Artificial Intelligence, among other innovations.

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In a keynote speech at the stakeholders workshop for the production of the third phase of the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS 2024-2028) in Abuja, Adeniran noted that the current unrelenting digital revolution offers new opportunities for the country to enhance its statistical capabilities, and maximise the opportunities availed by it.

“Presently, as we speak, NBS is planning to establish data innovation map, which is going to enhance our computation and application of big data, data science, data engineering, use of artificial intelligence and machine learning and auditing.

“It is also going to help us in developing and adopting new casting for our GDP and CPI. This data innovation map, is collaboratively extended to other organs of the Nigerian statistical system, both horizontally and vertically,” Adediran said at the well attended meeting which had, among others, the Minister of Budget and National planning, high ranking law makers, government officials, developing partners, past heads of the NBS, staff present.

The consultative meeting gathered critical stakeholders of the national statistical system to harvest ideas and contributions towards the drafting of the third phase of the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics, popularly called NSDS.

In his speech, Adeniran defined Statistics as the ‘silent language of governance,’ which underpins a robust, informed, and thriving society and forms the bedrock upon which policies and programmes are shaped, resources allocated, and progress assessed or evaluated – hence the vital need for a robust strategy to guide the growth and development of the system.

This strategy would serve to entrench a modernised and transformed statistical system, he stated, noting it as a unique opportunity for the Bureau to assess the past, understand the present, and chart a course for the future.

The SG said in developing the new five-year data strategy, key principles were being considered in process, including ; Inclusivity, Quality and Accuracy, Innovation and Technology, Capacity Building and Partnerships and Collaboration.

Explaining further, Adediran regretted that the present situation in the Nigeria statistics does not allow bringing together all available administrative data from different sectors, geographical areas, and sub -nationals.

“So in this data lab, we allow the National Bureau of statistics to be able to bring together all this administrative data from wherever they are, in whatever form.

“For instance, in the Ministry of Health, all the data that are produced from day to day running of the activities can be brought to the National Bureau of statistics in whichever form.

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“The data lab will be able to harness that data, bring it to our own server at the National Bureau of statistics and format it in the way we want without necessarily asking the Ministry to format it for us.

“That is one of the things that the data lab will be doing and it is going to be available at the department so that they have inter-departmental data sharing within Google,” he explained.

“Not only this, horizontally, it also means that we are going to be able to get data and share between the National bureau of statistics, state bureau of statistics, and even at the local government level.

“With the sharing data that is available at the national level, we will also tap the data so that the state agencies have a way to come into action, an we can have this one place where anybody that is looking for any type of data can go in and assess it for use.”

“We are working with the World Bank, we are going to be working with AFDB African Development Bank, the IMF to give us technical and financial support as well as the federal government so that this can come up in earnest because this is the way to go now and that is what is happening all over the African continent.”

He further noted that at the meeting, “all the new technologies in terms of big data, artificial intelligence that are operating within the data ecosystem now will also be discussed so Nigeria will not be left behind in this scheme.”

In his own speech, Abubakar Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning said the NSDS is a globally-recognized framework for statistical development, and has over the years played an instrumental role in enhancing the quality, relevance, and accessibility of statistical data in Nigeria.

He said the new NSDS for 2024-2028, seeks to further transform the nation’s statistical system and bridge existing gaps and challenges, setting the stage for a unified, integrated, and comprehensive data production system that accurately reflects current realities.

He added that it would be critical in assessing the implementation of President Tinubu’s 8-Point Agenda.

Ibrahim Isiaka, Chairman, House Committee on National Planning and Economic affairs said part of the recalibration of the country’s data process would be to review the NBS 2007 Act and committed to push for a quick amendment if and where needed.

Speaking, Shehu Sanni, a former Kaduna Central Senator and human rights activist made a strong case for the Statistician General who also doubles as the head of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to attend the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.

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He said government policies had failed in the past due to lack of adequate data for planning and execution and wondered why for instance the Statistician General should not mandatorily attend FEC considering the critical role that data plays in economic development in terms of planning, measurement and evaluation of development outcomes.

He further advised on the need to democratize data in a way that it speaks to the issues and equally made usable for productive outcomes.