FG tasks states, MDAs on data management
In recognition that data is the new oil, the Federal Government has called on states and Ministries, Departments and Agency (MDAs), to prioritise data management.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, made the call in a keynote address at a webinar titled: “Leveraging Datato Drive Inclusive Policy, Revenue Generation and Improved Governance.”
She said: “Data helps us remove unnecessary emotion from the debate, facilitatesdecision making in the face of uncertainty, provides a basis for comparing theconsequences of alternative policy choices, and allows us to monitor andevaluate our performance relative to our planned targets.
“By leveraging the opportunities provided by technology, strengtheningcollaborative partnerships between institutions, increasing demand forpolicy-relevant data, and supporting our statistical departments and agencies,data will continue to positively shape our policy choices and behaviours,bringing the benefits of inclusive growth and good governance to the Nigerian people.”
At the webinar, organised by Softcom Limited, Ahmed noted that Nigeria’sdata production system has witnessed remarkable progress under the leadershipof the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to her, despite the well-known challenges of producingofficial statistics in such an operational environment like Nigeria, NBS hasmanaged to sustain the delivery of its major statistical products with increasingimprovements in quality and timeliness.
“We would like to see more MDAs and states elevate the status oftheir statistical departments, and state statistical agencies to similarlevels, leveraging their output to inform policymaking and promote goodgovernance within their respective spheres of influence,” she stated.
The Minister, who admitted the important attribute of data, said itshould inform and lead to a change in policy behaviour, as “Ignoring the data does not make the problem go away. neither does denying what the data saysfor political reasons.”
Ahmed said apart from behavioural change at the macro level, adata-driven approach also drives changes at the micro level, within thecountry’s institutions.
This, she said, can be in the form of plugging revenue leakages, or byidentifying new sources of revenue.
According to her, government is supporting a broader data production ecosystem, and some of these initiativescan be replicated at the sub-national level.
She revealed that a recent initiative is the Open Treasury Portal, whichprovides data related to budget implementation and government financialtransactions (above a certain threshold) across all MDAs.
Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, emphasised thesignificance of data, saying: “Data aids the decision-making process by enabling us to establish numerical benchmarks, and monitor and evaluate theprogress of policies or programmes, thus ensuring that our policy interventions are well designed, meeting initial aims, and identifying any areas whichrequire improvement. Without data, we cannot make well-informed decisions that will catalyse our socio-economic development and transform the future ofgenerations.”
He referenced a 2019 OECD report, which said the key opportunities of a data-driven public sector is to aid governance, to improve design and delivery,and to support performance management.
Kale noted that data and insights fromprocesses such as the sectoral national account statistics or from the NationalLiving Standards Survey, can improve government’s capacity to anticipate thelevel of tax compliance or to plan social welfare palliatives during anemergency.
“Our recent longitudinal study on the Impact of COVID-19,undertaken in collaboration with the World Bank, can help policymakers to trackthe dynamics of the pandemic and design targeted responses. Similarly, theMultiple Indicator Cluster Survey provides empirical evidence of the outcomesor gaps linked to the national development framework,” he stated.
The webinar also had in attendance Special Adviser to the President onFinance and Economy & former deputy governor of theCentral Bank of Nigeria , Dr. Sarah Alade; Country Director at the World Bank, Shubham Chaudhuri; Director-General,Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; and President, the Nigerian Statistical Association, Prof Sidney Onyeagu.
It explored the methods of datacollection and analysis together with their cross-sector applications that canaccelerate the achievement of Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Commenting, the Chief Operating Officer, Softcom, Seindemi Olobayo, said: “As the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria is at a crossroads that threatens to derail the country’sinclusive growth agenda and economic dominance due to its inability to exploitdata.
“There are several factors that impact data collection in the areas ofdata reliability and validity, as well as quality assurance. These problems canbe wrong methodology, logistics, funding, poorly written manuals and vaguedescription of data collection instruments. This is why we thought it necessaryto host this webinar, in a bid to examine the issues and proffer lastingsolutions.”
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