STATISTICS and data being used by international finance institutions to assess the country’s economy are not dependable, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday.
He canvassed the generation of accurate data to enable proper planning and assessment.
The President spoke after inaugurating his Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the Aso Villa in Abuja.
He administered the oath of office on the eight members of the council led by Prof. Doyin Salami.
Other members are: Mohammed Sagagi, Ode Ojowu, Shehu Yahaya, Iyabo Masha , Chukwuma Soludo, Bismark Rewane and Mohammed Adaya Salisu.
The President constituted the PEAC on September 16, after dissolving the Economic management Team (EMT).
He mandated the PEAC members to develop reliable data that will properly reflect the true economic situation of the country. President said: “Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies.
“Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
‘‘This is disturbing as it implies that we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country. We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data.
“As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection.
“We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
“Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.
“As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability.”
Buhari added: “Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the Northeast. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.
“In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.
“Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.
“I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future.”
The President said his administration was working to measure the impact of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
As such, the President said he had directed the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the Northeast.
On his expectations from the council, the President urged them to proffer solutions on how to move the country and economy forward.
The President directed the Council to coordinate and synthesise ideas and efforts on how to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, working in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of the government.
He said: “I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting. I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.
“Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity – reason being we had to tread carefull,y in view of the mess we inherited.
“Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth. I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges, especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
“Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
“‘However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you.”
The President assured the Council that the Federal Government would ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.
He said all key ministries, departments and agencies will be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.
“Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism. In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and add to the quality of your decisions, he said.
Prof Salami noted that the mandate was about “Nigeria first, Nigeria second, and Nigeria always,” adding that it was about Nigerians, not as numbers, but as people.
“Our goal is that the economy grows in a manner that is rapid, inclusive, sustained and sustainable, so that Nigerians will feel the impact,” he added.
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