While we were up about doing so many other things, in the first half of this year, more than 500,000 people got new jobs in the country. Yes you read that correctly. More than half a million people in Nigeria got ‘new’ jobs between January and June of this year, and those jobs never existed before now. They were created within our economy, which is now Africa’s largest, in case you’ve forgotten. And that information is coming from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Their exact figure says 500,224 jobs!
Now, if you still know someone who didn’t get a job during that period, you need to find out under what rock the person had been hiding all through that time to have missed out on this windfall from our economy. He or she would be forgiven, however, if he was one of those who were scammed in the name of job opportunities in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment or even died in the process, for they would be excused for at least trying but failing.
NBS said 334,680 of those jobs were created in the informal sector, 154,773 in the formal sector, and 10,771 in the public sector. But seriously, how did the NBS arrive at these figures? Perhaps, it is possible to count how many new jobs have emerged in the public sector, but the private sector, formal and informal, I have my reservation. What is being defined as jobs anyway? We need some details on those too or we may never comprehend. Just as we get confused to read figures of growth of the economy without a corresponding improvement in the wellbeing of citizens.
And do those jobs include part-time, temporary and under-paid jobs or simply under-employments? But that is what statistics does most times. It gives figures without giving meanings to them. That explains why government can pride itself as having increased funding to a particular sector of the economy through the budget. But by the time one analyses the figures, one finds that much of the increases go to overheads, not to capital projects needed to enhance development.
So in effect, anybody can bandy figures and many others would fall for it. What amazes me, though, is when the media goes to town with such figures without interrogation or an attempt to explain that the figures were claims by those who bandied them. Sometime in 2013, the media in Nigeria were awash with report of an event in Zamfara. Most of them reported that about 8,000 women, comprising widows and divorcees went on a protest march, demanding government to help take care of their needs. Who verified the number and authenticity of those figures, apart from what the event organisers put out? Not the news reporters who were too lazy to even add the description that the organisers ‘claimed’ to have that number among their protesting group.
There is another use of statistics in recent times. The group known as Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) has been feeding us with so much statistics that few care to question. At its Port Harcourt rally, it claimed to have collected 4,150,000 signatories from the six states of the South South, just like it claimed some other huge figures in the South East, South West and North Central. The media, as usual, reported those figures as facts.
This must sure remind many of the one million man march for Sani Abacha which was immediately responded to by the two million man march. It was up then for people to choose what figures to believe. So next time you hear those statistics being bandied, just remember what someone once said: “There are three levels of lies; lies, blatant lies and statistics!”
Published in The Niche newspaper of Sunday September 21, 2014. – See more at: http://www.thenicheng.com/lies-blatant-lies-and-statistics/#sthash.XQa3tq6E.dpuf