NIGERIAN STATISTICAL SYSTEM PROJECTS: World Bank, UNDP seek stakeholders’ support

The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, have urged stakeholders in the public and private sectors to remain committed to the implementation of the National Strategy for the Development Statistics, NSDS, project in order to ensure impactful implementation of socio-economic programmes at all levels of government in the country.

This is even as development partners also re-assured the Nigerian government of their readiness to sustain their supports for the NSDS and other statistical information projects now being implemented in the country.

Giving the assurance in their goodwill messages at the 2-Day ‘End-Line National Statistical User Satisfaction Workshop’ in Abuja, the representatives of the development partners explained that developing the statistical system remained crucial to successful implementation of ongoing programmes at national and sub-national levels targeted at improving the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry.

In her remarks, the Country Director of the World Bank, Ms Marie Francoise- Nelly, who was represented by Mr. Alain Gaugris, said that the establishment of baseline data and the data at the end-target period was required to ensure successful implementation of the National Strategy for the Development Statistics, NSDS, as well as other projects on the statistical system.

She said: “In Nigeria, like any other country, where development strategies are invariably designed to reduce poverty and improve welfare of the people, the importance of having strong statistical systems to enhance countries’ ability to control and monitor its own developmental agenda cannot be over-emphasised.

“No meaningful design, development, monitoring or evaluation of national strategies can take place without quality statistics to identify socio-economic problems, guide formulation and implementation of development policies.

In other words, in order to foster development and measure achievements, we must establish baseline data and the data at the end-target period”, Francoise-Nelly added. On the importance of the SRF project which the Bank is providing funding and other implementation support to the nation’s statistical systems, she explained that the project was meant to improve the legal and institutional framework of the Nigerian Statistical System, both at national and sub-national levels in order to improve the vertical and horizontal coordination of the processes.

In addition, the World Bank chief said the Statistics for Results Facility (SRF) was also designed to develop the Human Resources and the IT infrastructure in the NSS, so as to professionalise the statistical production and also strengthen statistical communication and M&E in the country, adding that in all the three areas, the project’s objectives were achieved.

However, Francoise-Nelly explained that the Bank would be able to conclude that the SRF is successful in its deliverables if users of the statistical information noticed an improvement, adding that the feedback based on the questionnaires administered to participants would help in allowing comparison of their satisfaction with statistical information over time.

The UNDP Deputy Country Director, Mr Bernando Cocco, said regular surveys provided key quality assurance tool to measure the level of ‘user satisfaction’ with official statistics and that feedback thus collected can help in sharpening the relevance of statistical data that is needed to conduct analysis, inform policy, and, generally make decisions grounded on statistical evidence

He explained that since statistical information development is aimed at ensuring that development planning in the country is based on credible, timely, comprehensive and accurate evidence, there was need for user preferences and quality concerns to be factored in various projects in order to achieve the purpose of such initiatives. While recalling that over the past years, the UNDP has worked with national and international partners to support a robust statistical system in Nigeria, the Programme will continue to collaborate with the NBS and other development partners to improve the statistical institutions at national and sub-national levels in the years ahead.

According to him, the UNDP is also planning to bolster its participation “in the activities of the ‘Nigeria Development Partners Statistics, Monitoring and Evaluation Group’ -as currently coordinated by the World Bank so as to promote and support better coordination among producers of official statistics in Nigeria” Cocco therefore urged participating users from the MDAs, planners, international organisations, businesses, researchers and the media at the forum to provide critical inputs and suggestions with a view to helping in the establishment of a framework for regular dialogue among statistical information producers and users.

In his keynote address, the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, said the workshop was organised to assess the level of satisfaction of users of statistical information in the country with a view to understanding how best to meet their expectations as the implementation of the NSDS continues.

He explained that the Strategy was intended to cover the National Statistical System by bringing together all agencies involved in data production at all levels of government and also provide a framework for development and ownership of statistics in the country by sufficiently equipping the system in terms of human resources, essential tools and infrastructure to produce and disseminate reliable and timely statistics in a cost effective manner.

Kale, who was represented by the Director Households and Real Sector Department of the Bureau, Mr. George Oparaku, while expatiating on the implementation of the NSDS which started in six pilot states using the World Bank-managed SRF, said the Strategy had been supported by the UNDP, EU, UNICEF and Federal and State Governments.

On the NSDS initiative which is primarily targeted at improving the quality of statistical data and usage at all level of government, the Statistician General explained that usage of official statistics had improved from 78.1 per cent level achieve in the pre-SRF project implementation to 90.91 per cent currently even as the usage of official statistics for Economic and Social Information also rose to 97.1 per cent, up from the 83.3 per cent pre-SRF project implementation level.

According to him, the figures indicated that the SRF project was achieving the desired results and urged users to consistently support the implementation of the project by providing feedbacks on how to use ongoing projects to enhance the quality of the Nigerian Statistical System (NSS). He explained: “At the inception of the SRF project, in order to monitor its impact on the development of statistics, particularly in the affected agencies and states, it become necessary to establish some benchmarks that will serve as basis of comparison.

To this end, a National User Satisfaction Baseline Survey Workshop was conducted at the beginning of the implementation of the project. “The objective of this workshop was to interact with users in statistics with a view to getting their opinions as to how they assessed the overall quality of the statistics made available to them in their respective domains. As the implementation progressed, it was thought wise that an interim User Satisfaction Workshop be conducted to measure whether some positive progresses were being made or not.

“The findings of these workshops showed remarkable improvements in the usage of official statistics from 90.91 per cent and 78.1 per cent recorded as baseline figures for relevance of the usage of official statistics, and the use of official statistics for Economic and Social Information to 97.1 per cent and 83.3 per cent respectively”, Kale added.

He restated the need for all stakeholders to support the implementation of the NSDS in order to provide the country with comprehensive, timely and reliable statistics on a sustainable basis. Most of the participants described the ‘End-Line National Statistical User Satisfaction Workshop’, and others held in the past as desirable for the sustained drive by the NBS to engage users in statistical information development, adding that the interactive sessions availed them the opportunity to engage producers and development partners in discussions on how to constantly improve the standards of produced data and their utilisation at both public and private sectors.

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