• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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Revisiting the NBS unemployment report

Unemployment in Nigeria: Analysing contemporaries and implications

Embracing the benefits of international comparison is good, ignoring the reality of problems policies must fix is detrimental – Business Day Newspaper Nigeria


Data is information in raw or unorganized form (such as alphabets, numbers, or symbols) that refer to, or represent, conditions, ideas, or objects. Data is limitless and present everywhere in the universe. Data we are told would be the next crude oil and gas because of the perceived value it would carry or command in the next few years hence data management and dissemination must be taken seriously.

The National Bureau of Statistics and Data Reporting in Nigeria

We have seen and read various report about how the NBS has been micro managed by ministers of last administration that do not want the reality of the employment situation properly painted. Now that the NBS is allowed to speak , the bureau must ensure the reality of the unemployment story is correctly painted.

The new figures released by the NBS by the end of August 2023 show a significant drop from the 33.3 percent for Q4 2020 released in March 2021, and suggest that Nigeria is now comparable to the United States with an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent and the United Kingdom (4.2 percent) despite a high poverty rate.

Read also: NBS says Nigeria’s unemployment is 4 percent. It lied shamelessly!

During the launch of the NBS report in Abuja, Semiu Adeyemi Adeniran, statistician general of the federation, said it was an outcome of a recalibration in methodology using standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and not necessarily that the government had performed better. We wonder the NBS the government agency responsible for collecting, compiling, analyzing, interpreting, publishing and disseminating statistical information relating to the socio-economic life and conditions of the people of Nigeria did not get this assignment right.

The experienced Demographer and Statistician

“Semiu Adeniran Adeyemi is a professional statistician of repute with a bias for Demography and Social Statistics. He has over three decades of statistical hands-on experience garnered from various local and international institutions,”

“Until his appointment, Semiu Adeyemi Adeniran was the Director of Demographic and Household Statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Faulty Data and Assumption

Amongst other findings, the survey conducted by the NBS in collaboration with the World Bank classified employed individuals as those who are working for pay or profit and who worked for at least one hour in the last seven days.

The survey finds that about three quarters of Nigerians in the working age population, 73.6 percent in Q4 2022 and 76.7 percent in Q1 2023, were engaged in some form of work for pay or profit during the quarters under review.

Information Audit

Information auditing is very crucial in this type of assignment. According to the dictionary of business online , information analysts is the evaluation of an organisation’s information system (whether manual or computerized) to detect and rectify blockages, duplication, misinterpretation and leakage of information. The objectives of this audit are to improve accuracy, relevance, security, and timeliness of the recorded information. A good information audit would have helped. So we ask was one considered or indeed done? The NBS however deserves commendation by noting that the report should not be taken as a pass mark for the government.

Read also: The new NBS jobs report: Dealing with criticisms professionally

Information Integrity

Assurance that the data being accessed or read has neither been tampered with, nor been altered or damaged through a system error, since the time of the last authorized access. This should be paramount in the mind of the experienced data crunchers at the bureau.

We would like to suggest the following to the NBS as a way of value add in the future.

First , the NBS should consider presenting two reports to stakeholders including the Federal Government. One using the International Labour Organisation and World Bank standards and the second using our local measures hitherto used by the NBS. This would give us a 360 degree view of the issues at stake.

Second, involve the Nigeria Marketing Research Association (NIMRA) and the Nigerian Economic Society,(NSE,) in these exercises to encourage unbiase interpretations and conclusions.

Finally put in place proper data dissemination protocol to ensure the numbers get to the right ears for actionable outcomes. Data reporting should be reflective of the reality of the country and inappropriate parameters should be down played because of the sensitivity of the subject.


Michael Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy.