FactCheck: Are NBS statistics misleading, according to Governor Bello?
By Daniel Adaji
On Wednesday September 21, 2022, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State Governor and APC Youth Coordinator for the Tinubu-Shettima campaign organization, in an interview on Arise TV, faulted the credibility of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data.
He said: “Most times we question and query those statistics because I am most affected in Kogi State.”
Below is a verbatim transcript of the interaction between the governor and Arise TV:
Arise TV: Governor, what does your party, the APC, want to sell to Nigerian youths, when under your APC administration, we have now one of the highest youth unemployment in this country, it is over 50%. Youths don’t just have jobs. Over 13,000 Nigerian healthcare workers have gone to the UK within a space of two years because of the economic situation we are in. What does your government want to sell to the youths, when you can’t give them jobs?
Governor Yahaya Bello: El-Rufai, I thank you for these. I will approach this question this way, the statistics or the numbers you just read out, where are they coming from?
Arise TV: NBS
Yahaya Bello: what are the processes? You see, let me tell you, most times or most of the times, we question and query those statistics because NBS or in the media… people use to say Kogi State is owing salaries…there are some information out there that is misleading.
Arise TV: Two things I will like to get right, governor. Are you saying that the National Bureau of Statistics stats is wrong? Are you saying that the NBS, a federal institution, has wrong statistics…?
Yahaya Bello: Put my earlier replies into perspective; there areas to be improved upon; there are saboteurs still in the midst of all of that, the country is still moving on…
Governor Yahaya Bello has a history of questioning proven facts. He has campaigned against COVID-19 and rejected its vaccine; making unfounded claims that it was meant to kill and introduce new diseases into the body. Also, the governor had previously faulted the recent strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, describing it as the handiwork of saboteurs.
The NBS, in its report in March 2021, revealed that 33.3 per cent of the population in Nigeria was unemployed, with inflation reaching 18.17 per cent. This data did not augur well with the governor.
As a reaction to references made by Arise TV interview anchorman, the Governor “There are areas to be improved upon despite the efforts of saboteurs but the PMB administration is redressing these challenges. Also, we need to start scrutinizing the stats from organizations such as NBS because some of them engage in sabotage with their data. These elites also manipulate figures for their political aims.”
The Insight called the governor’s spokesman, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, for more information about how the governor arrived at the conclusion that NBS statistics are not reliable.
“Okay, I’ll get back to you,” Mr Fanwo replied.
However, he failed to revert, and would not respond to subsequent reminders.
Local institutions, like the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and global institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, have scientifically – and statistically – proven methodologies of gathering data, some of which include surveys, questionnaires, interviews, documents, focus groups, among others.
The NBS gets most of its data by doing survey on subjects of interest
A data analyst and expert, Mr Charles Mba, told The Insight that “the NBS gets most of its data by doing survey on subjects of interest. Also, each data released has a methodology section that describes how they actually got the figures. Most of their surveys are done by sampling a certain number that is a representative of the population they are looking at.”
Mr Mba explained further, “A careful look at each statistical report by the NBS shows careful details of how the figures were arrived at. It is, therefore, worrisome that a governor would discredit such data. Going by his claim, could the Federal Government budgets, policies and other key national decisions, which are based on NBS statistics be wrong? If that is the case, then the nation has far driven from reality based on Yahaya Bello’s position.”
In an effort to verify the claim, The Insight wrote a letter to the Statistician-General of the Federation and requested an explanation on the method of data collection. The SG directed that the information and communication unit provide an explanation.
The NBS told The Insight that its statistics was not a guesswork. They are based on methodologies followed by staff of the NBS across the various states of the Federation.
If Yahaya Bello doubts the NBS statistics, then he should provide alternative to our data collection system
According to a staff of the NBS in the information and communication unit, “The NBS statistics follow a methodology of data gathering. The NBS collaborates with other agencies of government in data collection before publishing such data. If anyone is aggrieved about the NBS statistics, such should contact the NBS for clarification, rather than claiming that our statistics is false.
“If Yahaya Bello doubts the NBS statistics, then he should provide alternative to our data collection system.” The staff explained further that it was not the first time the institution would be confronted with issues like this. “For instance, when the NBS reported the case of poverty in Sokoto State in 2010, the governor reacted against us, but after a careful examination of the data, he eventually used our statistics to solicit for funds from Federal Government.”
The NBS refuted Yahaya Bello’s claim that its statistics was unreliable.
Verdict: Governor Yahaya Bello needs to provide evidence to his claim that NBS statistics is not reliable. For now, his claim remains FALSE…