The Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, said the demand for data and statistical information had increased as the output of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) also increased.
Kale told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Saminaka, Kaduna State, that the reason for the increase in the output was that NBS had become creative in data gathering.
He said that the bureau had become creative in the ways it gathered data and it equally devised more cost effective way in disseminating its data.
“We have gone electronically in most of our activities instead of printing hard copies and that will be more expensive for us.
“I think that is what people mean by saying that our measures are more for the elite, because instead of putting our reports on paper, we put them on website.
“We got more people that are downloading our reports now than when we were printing them; we save all the money using to print and use it to gather more data,’’ he said.
The statistician-general said there was also increasing recognition of the importance of statistics, leading to an emerging resurgence in the demand for data and statistical information in Nigeria.
“A cursory look at some data request indicators at the NBS can attest to this: in 2005, just under 50,000 reports were downloaded from the NBS website compared to over three million in 2014.
“This does not include requests for data by walk-in users, which was 23 in 2005, compared to 1,817 in 2014.
“Last year, NBS had the highest freedom of information request and submission of all government agencies in the country.
“Furthermore, in 2005, visit to our website was recorded at 36, 280 but at end of 2014, this was nearly 7.5 million,’’ he said.
According to him, a lot more people are quoting NBS now than before; even in controversy they are still using it, because the bureau has improved its methodology.
Kale said the bureau had also introduced more products and had enabled government and policy makers to understand the system better.
In addition, he said that the effort had made people to rate their government better, saying that “in the past people used to assess the performance of the government without data.
“Now they begin to access the performance of their government based on data released by NBS.
“ For example, you can say when a governor came into power, unemployment was 10 per cent and when he leaves is at 15 per cent.
“You can fail the governor based on such statistics; I think that is a fair and logical way of rating them.’’
The statistician-general, however, said the mandate of NBS was to produce data, adding that the bureau had been producing more data even with less budget allocation than in the past.
“I think NBS has a lot of challenges; I will be the first person to admit that.
“But I will also say that there are a lot of things we need to do that we have not done and we are hoping to do.
“Our goal at NBS is to ensure that we leave the place better than it was previously.
“I believe that NBS is a better place to operate and it is producing more credible data,’’ he said.
He further spoke on the importance of timely and reliable statistics in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing national issues.
Kale said that statistics were a vital source of evidence as they provide us with clear, objective, numerical data on all aspects of our lives and our country.
“These include growth and characteristics of our population, economic performance, levels of health and well-being and the condition of our surrounding environment.
“Without these, we cannot make well-informed decisions that will catalyse our social and economic development and transform the future,’’ he said (NAN)