NIGERIA LACKS SURVEY ON MICRO AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES – SAYS DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR, STATISTICIAN GENERAL CRS

The National Bureau of Statistics, World Bank and other Stakeholders in the country engaged Enumerators across the nation, towards the end of last year, in a-50-day nation-wide Data Collection Survey on Macro/Micro and Medium Enterprises. The exercise brought out lessons learned, particularly, as it concerns accurate record keeping and proper and continuous data keeping in Nigeria. Cross River State Statistician General, Dr. Josephat Ogar who put it simply that the exercise is for “Development plan purpose”, spoke with MOFINEWS on the importance of survey and data-collection.

Dr. Josephat Ogar

MOFINEWS: Sir, your office is conducting a census of small and medium scale businesses across the state. What was it all about?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR:
Well, I am Dr. Josephat Ogar, the Cross River State Statistician-General. Concerning the project you are talking about, you may recall that for over 22 years, we have never had any survey on the issue of Macro, Micro and Medium Enterprises in the country. And of course, you know these are the drivers of the economy. They are not really government. There is a data gap. There is this serious challenge of inadequacies and existing gaps of data related to Commercial and Industrial businesses in the country. With that, we cannot take decisions nor come up with policies that are very realistic. To come up with policies you need statistical data, Statistical Information and Research. We cannot do without data. Whatever we are doing, must be tied to data and statistical information. If our policies are faulty, also the implementations will be faulty too.
Therefore, we need to get things right. It is based on this that the World Bank in collaboration with National Bureau of Statistics, State Bureau of Statistics and other stakeholders decided to come up with this national census sample survey of industries and commercial, businesses. The Central Bank is doing it under the auspices of “Physical Governance and Institutional Project”. The main objective of this census is to enable us to determine the growth of businesses in Nigeria because without the statistics, we cannot talk about the growth of businesses in Nigeria.
It is not possible at all. The second objective is that it is going to help us to come up with a National Directory on
Enterprises, Businesses and Industries in Nigeria. And thirdly, it is going to help us to determine the structure of the Nigerian economy. This exercise is taking place in the 36 states and Abuja concurrently. It is going to form the basis of intervention to macro, micro and medium enterprises as far as World Bank is concerned.
MOFINEWS: What is going to be the benefit to these categories of businesses at the end of the exercise?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR:: There is going to be very serious benefits because no decision can be taken that will achieve the right results without statistics. That is why the World Bank is spending so much money on this project. This will form the basis for taking decision.
MOFINEWS: Sir, how has the State keyed into this laudable project?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR:: The State has already keyed into it because statistics is in the concurrent list in our Constitution. It is not in the exclusive list that is why when such exercise or project is being carried out, the Statistician-General of the State is involved. I am the Chief Monitor and Coordinator of the project in the State.
The law empowers me to monitor exercises such as this. The law of Cross River State No.14 of 2011 empowers me. Statistics supplied to any quarter without my authority or approval is not genuine. Anybody doing that is not representing Cross River State. That is the law. It is a Constitutional issue.
MOFINEWS: Sir is this exercise limited or restricted to the State capital alone?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR:: The Census is across the 18 local government areas of the State. There is a difference between census and survey. In survey, you pick local government areas and leave some but in survey it is a census. Every business is a census. We have 68 Enumerators and three monitors. The Zonal Controller of Statistics in the
South South is one of the monitors. The MDA officer is one of them and me as the State Host. We also have Independent Monitors from the World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics that are coming to the State. This is a very serious exercise which is going to last for 50 days. So what we have done, we discovered that Ogoja, Ikom, Calabar, Municipality and Calabar South (most especially Calabar South and Municipality) have the largest enterprises in the State. We have tinkered with the design of the exercise. The enumerators were to have gone out straight to the 18 LGAs but I said no, but all the 68 Enumerators would first of all work in Calabar Municipality and Calabar South for two days so that by the time we look at the segment that is left, we leave few persons here and then move to other local government areas. Every business must be captured. The census is going to form the basis for intervention. There will be a Directory that would capture all businesses. I have sent letters to the Chief Security
Adviser to the Governor and Department of Chieftaincy. I have also sent letters to Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba communities. We have sensitized them. There are posters and flyers everywhere. I have addressed the 18 local government Chairmen, Revenue Mobilization, Commissioners and other stakeholders in the State. It is a very thorough and well planned census. We had training for retainers. Here in the State from 6th – 8th of October we had a training for all the Enumerators. It is a nationwide exercise. The Census is so scientific because as they are discussing with you, they would be recording your voice at the same time. The GPS of the location your business is would be taken simultaneously. So, it is not business as usual. It can recall any information you give at any time if need be. The experience is not for taxation but purely for development plan. We want to know your name, the business you are doing, whether you are employing people or not. Those are the information needed during the census.

MOFINEWS: Are you faced with challenges in the course of executing this assignment?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR: Yes, the challenge we have in the 36 States is in the area of “working tools”. In Cross
River State, we have been able to surmount the challenge. We were very lucky that Spotlight made some donations to the National Bureau of Statistics and we were handy to benefit from the tools. I was able to get more from YESSO
Department and added to the ones we had. All our Enumerators have the tools to work with. This has been our
greatest challenge but we have surmounted it for now. All of them are properly equipped for the job. So we are set to go to the field we don’t have any challenge for now.
MOFINEWS: Do you have any advice for these categories of businesses in the state?
DR. JOSEPHAT OGAR: Yes, my advice to them is that they should cooperate. I have gone out to sensitise and to mobilize the people. One of the things I was told by the Bureau and World Bank is to make sure I sensitised and mobilized people enough before the commencement of the census All they need do is to cooperate with the Enumerators and oblige them with necessary information. I have gone to see the market women at Watt and Marian
markets to sensitize them. We have gone round the town with posters and flyers creating awareness amongst the
people.To give information. It is not for taxation . It is for development plan and whatever the World Bank wants to do under the intervention, if your name is not captured in the Directory you will not have anybody to blame.

 

This is something that the Federal government had obtained loan to do. It is a very serious exercise and it is going to last for 50 days. The Enumerators are well paid to do their job. There are Radio jingles all over the place Hit FM and Radio Nigeria and so don’t say “I am not aware “. Every business establishments must be captured and we guarantee them confidentiality. We just need the required information and it is not for taxation . “And if you don’t want to be captured fine and good. It is not mandatory. Other states and zones in this country are always taken advantage of exercises such as this to grow their economies. The challenges we also have here is that people are always asking questions “what is going to be my benefit ” and so on and so forth. They don’t think about the long lasting benefits. If we shy away from the exercise, we end up short changing ourselves from the long lasting benefits. I have also contacted both the Federal and State Orientation Agencies on this issue to assist in the sensitization and mobilization exercise. I think it is something all of us should key into so that at the end of the day all of us will be better off”.