Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, on Monday, cautioned the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) over alleged rating of the state as the fourth poorest state in Nigeria and first in South East zone in economic development.
Umahi, who spoke to journalists in Abakaliki through his Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr. Uchenna Orji, said it is an insult to rate Ebonyi as the fourth poorest state in Nigeria.
He faulted the yardstick used by NBS to arrive at rating Ebonyi as the fourth poorest state, stressing that the survey obviously was not a perfect model or empirical methodology for the determination of actual economic development of a state or country.
According to him: “I describe the method as a neocolonial model for Africa where questionnaires are used on trial and error basis to determine the consumption expenditures of households.
“It must be noted that poverty index is a microcosm of the economic development index and there are many indices for determining economic development.
“It depends on the parameter used; if you use the variables inclusively or exclusively, it will lead to varied outcomes.
“Poverty index is an element in the plethora of economic indices, but the standards, parameters and yardsticks for assessments of economic development are many and mutually inclusive.
“While in our vision as a state, we are looking at economic development indicators in terms of income per capita; security, mortality ratio, education empowerment including women mainstreaming, infrastructure and environment.
“But, a look at the NBS survey methodology shows that it used Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS), a concept which has to do with living standard using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software on tablet device,” he said.
Umahi, noted further that the basis of using NLSS methodology by NBS was that calculation of consumption expenditures had an advantage of being comparatively easier to calculate since household income might come from multiple sources across different seasons.
The governor said that households rarely reported income with acceptable degree of accuracy because of concerns of tax implications or privacy.
He argued that Ebonyi would have beaten all positive contemporary economic records if NBS had depended on ideal indicators of economic development.
“But since they depended on sit-at-office computer survey on consumption expenditures by households and housing patterns which has no empirical formula for objective assessment, it will not stand.
“I want to assure them that in no distant time, they will witness a tremendous and overwhelming human transformation that cannot be faulted by even the laziest analysts, ” he added.