On NBS and the Nigerian economy


The recent officially released figures by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in January 2018 revealed that about 7.5 million Nigerians were doing nothing between January 2016 and December 30, 2017.

In fact, it further revealed that out of a total active labour force of 85.08 million people in Nigeria, about 16 million people were unemployed in the third quarter of 2017.

The NBS is an agent of good and bad news especially on the economy and growth. In 2016, it announced that Nigerian economy was in galloping inflation when it confirmed that the economic recession was a full year recession, and the worst in the country’s history since 1987.

Meanwhile, by September 2017, it announced that Nigerian economy was out of recession. It disclosed that in the second quarter of the year, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since Q1 2016.

The NBS is neither a friend nor a foe to the Nigerian government or the economy. The agency has in fact received its shares of commendations and condemnations from various quarters whenever its facts and figures are released which is either favourable or unfavourable to the system.

For instance, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina cited the report of NBS to recount the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the out-going year.

In his statement titled: ‘Key Achievements of President Buhari’s Administration in 2017,” Adesina said: “In our review of the economy, based on facts and figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), we are pleased to note that the economy has been on the path of steady growth since the second quarter, after contracting for five consecutive quarters.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, was not well pleased with another statistic from NBS on the unemployment rate in the country. Ogbeh clearly expressed his disagreement at a press briefing on the National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO) in Abuja, where he faulted those he called ‘calculators of Nigeria’s economic indices’ for reporting job losses in the formal sector without noting that millions of jobs had been created in the informal sector.

He said: “Let me correct an impression; I’ve been reading in newspapers that Nigeria has lost four million jobs in the last two years and it became a campaign. But let me make it clear, if we’ve lost 4 million jobs in the cities and in the factories; we’ve created six million jobs on the farms.”

However, NBS has always provided its reports with concrete and convincing facts and figures that are quite revealing. For instance, in one of its reports last year, it disclosed that Nigeria earned N397 billion from the export of Liquefied Natural Gas, (LNG ) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas ( LPG), also known as cooking gas, in the third quarter of 2017. In its Third Quarter 2017 Foreign Trade Statistics, NBS stated that the country exported LNG valued at N386.028 billion, while cooking gas export stood at N11.835 billion.

Similarly, many reports have been released by NBS to the admiration of analysts and global economic players who look towards Nigeria’s economic indices for comparative analyses. In fact, the Chief Executive Officer and the Statistician of the Federation, Yemi Kale must be commended for his diligence and stewardship.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) came into being with the merger of the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) and the National Data Bank (NDB). The creation was part of the implementation of the Statistical Master Plan (SMP), a programme document of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

The merger was to give the agency a national outlook as the apex statistical agency for all the three tiers of government. NBS coordinates Statistical Operations of the National Statistical System in the production of Official Statistics in all the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State Statistical Agencies (SSAs) and Local Government Councils (LGCs), who’s mission and vision is to generate, on a continuous and sustainable basis, socio-economic statistics on all facets of development in Nigeria and to become one of the foremost and modern knowledge-based national statistical offices in Africa and indeed the world.

The internal organisation of the bureau is built on Statistics Act of 2007 which is the legal instrument established by the Acts of Parliament. The governing board of the bureau comprises of 15 members, which are six political members from each of the six geo-political zones of the country and nine institutional members.

These groups include a few ministers, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, group managing director NNPC, presidents, Manufacturer Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Statistical Association and lastly Statistician General and chief executive of the NBS as the secretary.

It is undeniable the fact that the Ministry of Finance and that of Ministry of Planning and Budgeting among others would find the reports essential for economic planning. The NBS should therefore be encouraged and supported to be financially and administratively independent in discharging its statutory responsibilities.

Oladosu wrote from Gidado Idris Road, Wuye District, Abuja.

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