The federal government has realized the importance of harmonized development statistics, not just for development planning, but in feeding foreign investors and international community with homemade figures that are accurate and reliable for investment planning.
Before now, several development statistics on Nigeria are cooked up by foreign data agencies due to the non harmonized approach by the government, thereby presenting several facts and figures that are not correct on Nigeria to the world.
This observation was made recently by the chairman of United for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu, during an interactive session with global business development experts at the Charhan House in London.
He decried that Nigeria and other African governments that did not take issues of gathering, processing and disseminating development statistics serious will continue to fall prey to unreliable data presented by the western world on Africa’s development.
Elumelu said economic development information presented about Africa by the outside world is neither holistic nor properly contextualized, “and has led to the kind of narrative that we have had for so long on Africa which has been discouraging foreign direct investments”.
According to Elumelu, the developed world base their rating of African economies on data they generated from not so credible sources and use same to conclude issues in Africa without recourse to data generated, processed and presented by African nations.
However, to halt the ugly trend, the Federal Government on Monday inaugurated a Finance Sectoral Consultative Committee for the effective coordination of statistical data in the ministry of finance and its agencies.
The Permanent Secretary in Ministry of finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, inaugurated the committee at the headquarters of the finance ministry in Abuja.
The membership of the committee is drawn from departments/unit of finance ministry, the representatives of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and Central Bank of Nigeria.
Others are the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Debt Management Office, the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.
He said the committee is given the task of coordinating stakeholders responsible for production of finance statistics.
Dutse who was represented by the Director of Home finance in the ministry, Mrs. Olubunmi Osinyanbola said the inauguration was inline with the recommendations of the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics recently launched by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to him, “The committee is being established to improve and harmonize the statistical programmes of the ministry and our agencies periodically, strengthen capacity to manage and disseminate government finance statistics and promote the use of best practice and international standard in statistical production and management.”
In his remarks, the Statistician-General and chief executive of NBS, Dr Yemi Kale, urged the Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies to cooperate with the committee to ensure efficiency in data collection, saying “These data will assist the government in economic analysis and planning. It will also assist the government in the economic restructuring of the nation”.
Already, the Head of Economic Cooperation and Energy of the European Union, Mrs. Nadia Cannata, said her organization had provided N20m to Nigeria to provide technical support and build the capacity of major stakeholders to ensure improvement of statistics collection and database for Nigeria.