Problems of Statistics in Nigeria

Statistics has to do with the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data on particular subjects of interest which can be in the area of population, health, education, economics, etc. Accurate statistics is important in any nation to help know where there is a need for development and to also track the progress of development. The state of Nigeria’s problem with accurate statistics is so bad that no one is quite sure of the country’s population size. There are estimates (some will say 180 million while others will say 200 million). The last population census in the country was taken in 2006 and there are no signs of another happening soonest. Even the last census of 2006 which gave a population count of 140 million is not trusted as there were reports of alleged malpractices. Due to the age-long statistics problem the country has had, international organizations and global organization have been the ones supplying Nigeria with statistics and data on her populace and events. Many even think the statistics provided international bodies is more reliable than any within Nigeria. Although, political leaders have often claimed that statistics developed by international bodies are untrue and not factual. This article is about the problems of statistics in Nigeria.

Problems of Statistics in Nigeria

Read on below:

Lack of funding

Nigeria’s statistics Bureau has always complained of a lack of funding. Having accurate statistics requires diving deep and covering all corners of issues and demography. This requires resources in purchasing the right equipment and software that can be used to achieve it. The NBS has been underfunded for a long time.

Lack of support from other institutions and organizations

Having accurate statistics does not depend only on Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics, other institutions in Nigeria also add up to the problem of statistics in the country. Often times, the NBS has not been supported by the government and other institutions. Take for example the case of when the NBS published a survey on corruption that showed that police officers, prosecutors and judges were the ones who frequently received bribes in the country. The National Judicial Council regarded the report as untrue while the police force described it as misleading.


Note that the lack of accurate and reliable data serves the interests of some people. Non-availability of data enables a culture that lacks transparency and where various corrupt officials can tell lies and escape. Accurate data reveals the truth. For example, the budget for funds to be disbursed to a particular area for a project cannot be easily padded when there is accurate data on the number of people located in the area. The inaccurate statistics on population census is as a result of the politicization of the census. You can now see how it is better for some people that the country continues to have a statistics problem. In Nigeria, information on government budgets such as that of the maintenance of the national assembly is not made public. This shows that an aversion to transparency and honesty is also a cause of lack of progress in the area of accurate statistics in Nigeria.

Poor quality assurance

Another problem of statistics in Nigeria is of poor quality assurance. Even when data is being collected, it is not assured that the data will be accurate and of good quality due to factors such as the use of the wrong methodology, lack of equipment, poorly written manuals, etc. Thus, the quality of data is usually compromised.

Issues with logistics and proper planning

Often times, preliminary plans to be taken before data collection are not well done. When logistics are not well taken care of and operations are not properly planned, different kinds of errors come into play.

Lack of equipment and facilities

For example, when it comes to the population census, Nigeria cannot afford the equipment and procedures in order to conduct an efficient population census. Modern geographic information techniques such as remote sensing, aerial photographs, Geographical Positioning System GPS, digital cartography and computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS). These equipment are needed to facilitate rapid input, management and analysis of data for the successful conduct of population censuses in Nigeria. Most of the equipment cannot be afforded in Nigeria. This affects the output and contributes to irregular and poor quality of statistics in Nigeria.

Lack of qualified personnel

Many officials in agencies that deal with statistics lack the necessary level of qualification needed. Ideally, only experts who have been trained in dealing with data are supposed to be given the responsibility of handling such issues.

Fraud and ethical misconduct

There are many cases in Nigeria where some political figures have tried to influence data to suit their selfish interests. Often times, the data collector can align the data with what figures he or she has been given. Such behaviours are the reasons for unreliable statistics in Nigeria.

Public Attitude

Most often than not, the public view government statisticians as their enemies and are usually hostile to them. Some believe, statisticians are tools of the government to enrich their pockets, increase taxes etc. Based on these notions, the public provides statisticians with misleading information. The poor attitude of the public also affects the collection and presentation of data in Nigeria.

Multiple entry of information

There is also a big problem with multiple entry of data at different organizations and agencies in Nigeria. Most times, citizens register the same information in different places when the government needs only one set of data.

Lack of political will

Political leaders and governments in Nigeria seem to have very little will to do anything abut the problem of statistics in Nigeria. Many do not recognize the importance of statistics and how it affects many other areas of the country. Over the years, government officials are used to fire brigade approaches in addressing issues such as public infrastructure, poverty, etc. The question is how one properly manage something one has not properly measured. Nigeria might continue to experience stagnation in many other sectors and areas if the problem with statistics goes on.