FASHOLA FLAGS OFF STATES’ GDP COMPUTATION EXERCISE IN NIGERIA
…SAYS THE NATION MUST GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) on Friday flagged off the States’ Gross Domestic Product SGDP Computation in Nigeria with a charge that the country must get it right this time around.
The Governor who spoke at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Ikeja, venue of the flag-off organized by the National Planning Commission in collaboration with Lagos State, the Governors’ Forum and the National Bureau of Statistics said failure to get it right will result into a situation where the country is fed with data from outside her shores.
According to the Governor, relying on such externally generated data could be fraught with distortions like contention that the average Nigerian live on below one dollar per day, stating that he has however always countered such assertion because he knows that that the average person in Nigeria lives on much more than that because even if the cost of sending SMS short text that Nigerian send to themselves they will realize that the average person live above one dollar per day.
“Even when we try to get data, we report irrelevant considerations. So, this is one exercise we must not toy with. Very importantly, it will ultimately benefit our nation, benefit our states and our Local Governments”, he added.
Governor Fashola asserted that in Lagos data collection and planning have become an exercise that the State does not compromise on, adding that if Nigerians do not know how many people are in the country and what each of the component unit is producing, the people cannot properly plan the progression and the development of the country.
“We cannot project that this is where we are going to be in number of years, if we are going to be in a particular number of years if we do not know how much power we need, we cannot plan the supply of that power”.
Governor Fashola who commended the Commissioners for Economic Planning and Budget from the various states who have participated in the exercise said getting it right will make the work of the National Planning Commission easier.
“It will be easier for all of the states to cross check and validate the data they get from the States Bureau of Statistics with national data while speaking with one voice so that there would not be a situation where the Gross Domestic Product of one state is bigger than that of the whole country”, Governor Fashola said .
He reiterated that the data so collected will also have the respect of the people who are the owners of the data such that nobody will seek to unilaterally impeach the data so gathered.
Fashola reiterated that if there is any cause for the State to disagree with the National Planning Commission, it is simply because it has seen a better way of doing things and achieving the results.
“I have always argued that our prosperity does not lie in what any individual can do for this country. It will be more in what individually and collectively we allow this country to do for herself through her various States and Local Governments. Let us free up Nigeria and allow States be the centres of development and let us now measure that development and growth by aggregating it to the centre”.
He also commended the National Planning Minister for the good work he is doing at the commission, adding that this explains why he is one of the longest serving Ministers in the country.
He described GDP as an important score of value of the nation’s international assessment as a country, adding that the country can get it right if it wants and that depends on regarding data collection, data processing and data analysis as very dispassionate science which anybody should not play politics with.
“We had a momentous opportunity in this country to conduct a census in 2006 and I think we did a less than salutary work on it and that was a critical data collection exercise that will have helped us and we subjected it to political consideration”.
The Minister of National Planning and Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr Shamsuddeen Usman in his speech formally commended the efforts of the Governor for the giant strides made towards the transformation of Lagos State in the last five years.
“Your transformational efforts have traversed every sphere of life in the State: roads, bridges, schools and other physical infrastructure, water sanitation, education and health among others”.
He said the Gross Domestic Product which is a key barometer for measuring the level of economic activity has been compiled in Nigeria, only at the national level on an aggregate basis by the National Bureau of Statistics since colonial times.
He explained that the inclusion of States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the national data framework will enhance its comprehensiveness and reliability, spur growth and development, promote accountability and create awareness of the outcomes of efforts at the sub-national levels.
He informed that a clear roadmap has been put in place for the implementation of the States’ GDP computation Project in two phases with phase one from December, 2011 to October 2012 while the second phase is November to June 2013.
The State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze in his welcome remarks, recalled that Lagos was the first State to compute its State GDP beginning from Year 2007, using secondary data while projections were made for Years 2008 and 2009.
He said owing to the determination of the State Government to ensure that planning is based on empirical and reliable data, the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget obtained the approval of the Governor in Year 2011 to compute the State GDP for Year 2010 using primary data sources.
He added that the exercise covered the 28 relevant economic sectors across the State and was based on the production approach, stating that the exercise has since been concluded and revealed that the State’s GDP had been previously grossly understated.
Messages of goodwill were also delivered by representatives of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido, the Representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Nigerian Governors Forum Secretariat with all of them emphasizing the importance of States Gross Domestic Computation as a good framework for planning.
The Governor later flagged off the exercise which was attended by members of the State Executive Council including the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Ranti Adebule, Ekiti State Commissioner for Budget Mr. Debo Ajayi, Statistician General, Dr Yemi Kale and Secretary of the National Planning Commission, Mr. Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo and other dignitaries.