Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday formally inaugurated members of the newly- constituted Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), with a mandate to, among others, make accurate economic data gathering its prime focus.
While inaugurating the eight-man council led by Prof. Doyin Salami, in Abuja, Buhari who faulted foreign statistics on Nigeria, charged members of the council to come up with data that will show a true reflection of the state of affairs in the country.
The president had announced membership of the council on September 16, naming Dr. Mohammed Sagagi, Prof. Ode Ojowu, Dr. Shehu Yahaya, Dr. Iyabo Masha, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Mr. Bismark Rewane and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu as members.
According to the president, developing local content statistics had become imperative because statistics relied upon for measuring the country's performance indicators were developed abroad by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While tasking the team to set an agenda on what it wants to achieve in the shortest possible time, Buhari who described the council's duties as the "most important national assignment," also described foreign statistics on Nigeria as wild with little reflection of the true state of events in the country.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president described as disturbing, the attitude of relying on foreign statistics to measure the country's economic indices, noting that the country is hampered from effective planning if it does not possess its own data.
"Adesina quoted him as saying: "As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection. 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 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 are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities. Our programs 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."
Adesina also said the president spoke on Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the federal government, informing the council that his administration was working towards measuring the impact of the programmes which he said was targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.