Kale Explains Delayed Unemployment Data

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    The Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, has attributed the delay in releasing the country’s unemployment figures to the late approval of the 2018 budget.

    Speaking on Arise TV, a sister broadcast station of THISDAY, stressed that funding was required to carry out the nationwide survey.

    The last unemployment data released by the NBS was that of third quarter 2017.

    But Kale explained, “In Nigeria, unfortunately some of the challenges of collecting data are that you have to go out into the field. So, we have staff in all the states and offices in all the states and their job is to go out into the field and collect this data.

    Now to go out into the field and collect these data, they need to collect their transport allowance and so on. So, if you have not gotten your budget signed and we know the budget was not signed until June, so it means we don’t have any funds to work with.

    And when you have an employment study and a household study, it cost a lot of money,so you need resources to go to the field and there is no way we can do that. So that is why there is a delay, unlike an inflation report that really does not cost that much money because you are just going to markets around.

    Or maybe a GDP report which you are looking at companies’ financials you don’t need that much money to get those records, so you can keep publishing those administrative records unlike a household survey or census where you have to go to households to get that information,” Kale said.

    According to the NBS boss, his agency has staff in the South-south that would need to rent boats to cross to the creeks to get the information, saying it does not require such persons to use their salaries to do that.

    “They need little sum of money to get this information. So, it is extremely difficult, and the resources are needed. So, the reason is the funding was not approved until recently,” he added.

    Responding to a question about certain persons and politicians that do criticise data from his agency, he said, “Questioning data is something that happens everywhere in the world. I remember even in the last United States election; the current president questioned the jobs and GDP numbers although now he celebrates those numbers from the same statistics agency.

    So politicians would always question number. If you are a minister in a sector and the numbers suggests that you are not doing better, you don’t really expect that such person would be excited at those numbers. So, it is expected but we operate independently, and we follow international convention and we are not particularly concerned about the criticisms as long as the criticisms are not based on the technical manner we got the data.

    If they had questioned the methodology processes then we would check them try to improve on them if we find out they are correct.

    But if it is just a general ‘I don’t agree with number,‘ without any basis, then we are not particularly paying any attention to that.

    Our job is to be independent and to produce data for evident based decision making. And I think what policy makers should do with these numbers if they can’t find anything wrong with the process is to go through them and use them for and that is to fix problems.

    But we don’t get involved in politics or get involved in exchanging or having arguments whether a data is correct or is not correct. We do our jobs and then leave it to policy makers for them to use the data for what are mean to use it for.