Ebonyi rejects NBS poverty, inequality index rating – By Douglas Okoro

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Mr Uchenna Orji

The Ebonyi government has faulted the recent poverty and inequality index credited to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which rated the state as the fourth poorest state in Nigeria and first in South-East zone in economic development.

Mr Uchenna Orji, Ebonyi Commissioner for Information and State Orientation disputed the rating in an interview with Summitnews correspondent on Monday in Abakaliki.

According to the commissioner, the yardstick used by NBS was consumption expenditures saying that the survey obviously was not a perfect model or empirical methodology for the determination of actual economic development of a state or country.

He said: “I describe the method as a neoclonial 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 microcosm of the economic development index and there are some 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 assessmens 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.”

Mr Orji, noted 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 Commissioner said that households rarely reported income with acceptable degree of accuracy because of concerns of tax implications or privacy.

Orji, also the Acting Commissioner, Human Capital Development and Monitoring 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.

Gov. Dave Umahi

The commissioner said that Gov. Dave Umahi was committed to steering Ebonyi out of ‘third world-states’ of the world which Africa belonged noting that Ebonyi is one of the fastest growing economies in Nigeria.

” When you come to Ebonyi, if you talk about human capital development and standard of living of the people, the state is making a great progress.

“Ebonyi is the first to create ministry of Human Capital Development, I can’t remember any state that has such a ministry.

“Umahi also established institutions that will enhance human development and sustain it beyond the administration.

“The Vocational college, King David Gifted Academy, the Agricultural Vocational Institute and Adult Education which the governor established are all geared towards raising capacities and competencies of artisans, technicians and craftsmen among others.

“Ebonyi has comprehensive functional, primary, secondary and tertiary health care systems with Primary Health Care (PHC) in each of the 171 wards and 13 General Hospitals.

“The state has in addition, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Health Technology, state Teaching Hospital, Lassa Fever Treatment Centre and Emergency Health and Coronavirus Treatment Centre.

“We have one of the best education system in Nigeria and Ebonyi is one of best 10 states in the West African Senior Schools Certificate Examination (WASSCE) performance,” he said.

The NBS in its 2019 economic development report said that four in every ten Nigerians representing 40.1 per cent of the population earn less than ₦377 per day.

But the report noted that in Sokoto,Taraba and Jigawa, about nine in ten earn that amount; following closely behind these states are Ebonyi and Adamawa, where eight in ten
earn ₦377 daily.

Zamfara, Yobe and Niger states , seven in ten persons earn that
amount.

The study further rated Lagos, Ogun , Osun, Oyo and Delta as states with low poverty rates while Ebonyi with 80 per cent poverty rate is the fourth poorest in Nigeria and first in South-East and followed by Enugu state with 58 per cent rate.

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