By Cecilia Ologunagba
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) is seeking partnership and collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on capacity building and timely dissemination of data.
Mr Bayo Onanuga, NAN Managing Director, paid a courtesy visit to the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, in Abuja on Thursday where he spoke on the collaboration.
“I have found out that lot of Nigerians including journalists and people outside the country are paying a lot of attention to what the NBS says.
“When we were talking about recession, it was the NBS that told us our economy was moving into recession and when we were bouncing back, it was the NBS that told us.
“I believe that NBS is doing a lot of work and NAN as a biggest news provider in Africa needs to do a lot of work with the NBS.
“Our journalism is moving towards what the NBS is doing; data driven journalism. I believe that NBS can help us a lot in training our staff our staff on economic desk to be able to help us do some of the things the bureau does.
“To be able to interpret statistics, to use figures to write a lot of stories, being able to build a lot of things, even features stories around figures which NBS is already a master of.
“We believe that the NBS can help us train our personnel in this regards.’’
Onanuga said that the job of NBS and that of NAN intertwined at various points, adding that the agency would get a lot of value working with the bureau.
“NAN has changed in the last 16 months since I assumed duty and it now has three websites; one is on photo service.
“We have a website for general news service and we have the one that is available to only the subscribers.
“We also have the Short Message Service (SMS) and offers news as it break and also publish magazine on the positive news about Nigeria,’’ he said.
Onanuga said that the agency would appreciate collaborating with the NBS in boosting it’s service provision to subscribers in Nigeria and the rest of the World about NBS activities.
He, however, commended the Statistician General for upgrading the services of the bureau, adding that Nigerians had come to appreciate the economy through timely dissemination of data.
In his response, Kale commended the management of NAN for effective coverage of the bureau, saying “I have noticed improvement in the reports from NAN’’.
The Statistician- General expressed willingness to partner with NAN on capacity building and timely release of its reports.
He said that the partnership between the agencies would help to address misrepresentation of the bureau reports.
Kale said that some media had published negative stories about the outcome of its reports even when the story was positive because of the technicality in interpreting those reports.
“ It is cheaper to have journalists trained than to be responding to misrepresentation of information in the media.’’
He disclosed that bureau had trained journalists on data journalism and some official of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on interpretation of data.
Kale added that the bureau would partner with NAN in information dissemination at inception of surveys and after conducting those surveys.
“We have three extreme studies between now and next year. I call them big because the indicators that will be coming from them will be significant.
“From the Harmonised Living Standard Survey that is where we get our poverty number, it is a big one.
“It takes almost a year to complete, but that is one of the indicators that the publics will be interested in; how has poverty being over the years.
“We have the two censuses; census of agric. We have seen a lot of things that is going on in the agriculture but the samples we are using is over two decades ago.
“We have not done it for 2 decades. It is just like rebasing. The same things we did.
“We want to know how many farmlands are in Nigeria in the last two decades. I am sure, in the last two decades, some plot of lands have opened while some have closed and new things have been produced.
“ If you don’t have accurate details of what is going on across the country, any progress will be based on luck if you don’t base it on data. We hope to do that one between this year and next year if we get funding.
“Also, we hope to do census of businesses and industries, also about 3 decades. The objective is to go to every street in every Local Government and capture every business operating whether formal or informal, registered or not registered.’’
He said that the businesses and industries census would have impact for Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) by knowing where every business operates in Nigeria.
“I think the amount of information we will get from those 3 censuses would be phenomenon in terms of implication on government policies and businesses.’’
NBS is the authoritative source and custodian of official statistics in Nigeria with the responsibility of developing and managing official statistics. (NAN)