VP Shettima calls for enhanced data systems to guide Nigeria’s development

By Kunle Sanni

Vice President Kashim Shettima has emphasized the need for improved data collection, analysis, and technology deployment to generate comprehensive and inclusive evidence for guiding government decisions, investment choices, and development pathways.

Speaking at the 2024 World Population Day commemoration held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Shettima harped on the importance of robust data systems in shaping a resilient and equitable future for Nigeria.

“Data is life. It provides the most realistic picture of our situations, trends, and patterns,” Shettima stated. “Despite our last census being 18 years ago, Nigeria has always valued data. This day calls us to recommit to enhancing our data collection, analysis, and use of modern technology to produce comprehensive evidence for informed decision-making.”

Shettima highlighted this year’s World Population Day theme, which focuses on the power of data and the promise of inclusivity, as particularly instructive for Nigeria’s development agenda.

He acknowledged that inclusive data has long been a challenge in Nigerian governance but expressed confidence in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to data-driven leadership.

A cross-section of attendees at the event

“President Tinubu, a first-rate accountant, understands the critical role of data in development,” Shettima said.

During his address, Shettima also announced the upcoming Presidential Initiative for Youth Enterprise Clusters, worth N110 billion, alongside a Youth Data Bank and a National Youth Development Bank.

These initiatives aim to complement the existing N110 billion Youth Investment Fund and fulfill the administration’s 30% quota for youth inclusion in governance.

“It is essential for government policies and investments to be aligned with the needs of citizens,” Shettima added, listing priorities such as creating decent jobs, ensuring equitable healthcare access, and providing quality education.

As Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC), he pledged to use his platform to keep people and communities at the forefront of Nigeria’s development efforts.

Minister of Youth Development, Dr. Jamila Bio-Ibrahim, commended the commitment of event partners and urged them to leverage scientific evidence to tackle global population challenges. She revealed plans for a youth data bank aimed at harnessing young Nigerians’ potential for national development.

Nasir Isa Kwarra, Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), highlighted the urgent need for updated, credible data to inform policy decisions, noting that Nigeria’s last census was nearly two decades ago.

The event also featured messages from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem. Guterres, represented by UN Information Centre Director Ronald David Kayanja, stressed the critical role of women’s health in sustainable development and the ongoing inequalities in maternal health. Kanem, represented by UNFPA Nigeria Deputy Representative Mr. Koessan Kuawu, called for inclusive data systems that reflect human diversity.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Population, Okunjimi Odimayo, urged collaboration among stakeholders to promote inclusive development.

The commemoration included goodwill messages from civil society organizations, young people, and other stakeholders, all emphasizing the need for comprehensive and inclusive data to drive sustainable development in Nigeria.

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