Agencies of government releasing damning facts about government’s performance is not commonplace in the developing world, Nigeria especially. But data from the National Bureau for Statistics has consistently been a source of positive as well as very negative rating of the Nigerian government.
Yemi Kale, the Statistician-General of the Federation, has said that the claims by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that the Federal Government has created 7 million jobs is not one that can be backed with official statistics of the Nation, as the NBS is legally identified as the body with the official records.
Kale stated that the NBS has no data on people who now have jobs but has data on unemployed people
“We have not produced any data on job creation, we produced data on people that were unemployed at the particular time and that is what we are sticking to.”
He explained that people are allowed to have their opinions, hence he did not rule out the Minister’s claim as false, as he said people may have their calculations and computations but
“…when it comes to national data, the authoritative source, the custodian of all data is the NBS. So we don’t comment on what other people even ministers say as far as data is concerned. Our data is for evidence based policy and decision making and that is what we do.”
As there are known and well-documented ways to misuse statistics, the NBS’ seeming apolitical nature comes as a pleasant surprise as the Bureau’s statistics, which relates to government performance, do not seem to follow any political pattern.
The NBS announced in 2016 that the Nation was in a full year recession, one that it described as the worse since 1987. It irritated the Minister of Agriculture when it said more Nigerians have lost their jobs at the same time the Minister was empowering many with farming. The Minister fell short of mentioning NBS in his rebuttal.
Critics of President Buhari had a field day bashing the President when the Bureau released its figures showing that the number of unemployed Nigerians have doubled in a two years period under the President. Yet its findings was what the Media Aide to the President, Femi Adesina, used to show how things are improving on the areas they are improving and when they indeed began to improve in the areas earlier shown to be poor.
It released convincing evidence that the Nation’s GDP increased in the third quarter of 2017 for the second consecutive time, that its export value hit 3.57billion also in December 2017 and that unemployment rate will drop in 2018. But also did state that unemployment rate as of December 2017 was 18.8% – the highest rate of joblessness since 2009.
Kale sums up the NBS in these words
“We don’t do politics at the NBS, the National Bureau of Statistics is the official source of data. Our law does not allow us to be countered. The law says very clearly that NBS is the official source of Nigerian data.”