The Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, has advocated for stand-alone statistics departments in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), with qualified statisticians heading them.
Kale made the appeal on Friday in Abuja at the inauguration of the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Statistical Association (NSA).
The Statistician-General was represented by the Director, Real Sector and Household Statistics Department, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr Isiaka Olanrewaju.
Kale, who stressed the need for separate statistics units headed by statisticians in MDAs, noted that what most MDAs have are Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) department.
According to him, this should not to be so in an ideal situation. Statisticians should be given the chance to head the departments because they know what it takes to produce and make use of statistics to give advice on policy formulation.
“If more departments are created, instead of just lumping PRS, then it gives avenues to allow statisticians to head such departments.”
Kale also said having such departments would give opportunity to Statistics graduates to be gainfully employed in those departments.
On data collection, he said that good supply of statistics was necessary to have good records, adding that the NBS, a producer of statistics is still struggling with routine data collection.
“We do not have problem in collecting data from households, when you go to rural areas and talk to people they are ready to co-operate with you.
“The area we have problem now is the routine data collection,” said the Statistician-General.
He, however, said that there was room for improvement in the area of supply of data to the NBS by other suppliers including line ministries.
“The funding issue too is there, most of the data we produce, we have international partners supporting; suppose those support are directly from the government, it will be more regular,” he said.
Dr Goddy Ebuh, the First Vice-President, National NSA, said Nigeria had witnessed numerous challenges in the past decade in the economic, political and social life of its people and would need statistics to forge ahead.
“In the new frontier, statistics will be needed as never before by those in authority as a signpost for finding the right solution to the questions of the day.
“Statisticians will be called upon to furnish them with the needed data,” Ebuh said.
He, however, urged statisticians to build synergies with different agencies to bring their expertise to bear.
Mr Chiedu Arinze, the newly inaugurated Abuja chapter chairman, commended the competence of the 15-member executive and assured that they would put in their best to deliver on their mandate.
He pledged that they would sensitise Abuja residents on the importance of statistics and ensure it is given its own pride of place in the scheme of things during their two-year tenure.
The association, a national body with different state chapters, engages in statistical advocacy, professional development and re-training of users and producers of statistics.
This is toward the provision of sound information base to enhance policy formulation and strategic planning in the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Amaka E. Nliam