From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

The entire staff of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have been thrown into a sudden mourning following the death of the Statistician General (SG) of the Federation, Dr Simon Harry.

The SG who died this morning of an undisclosed illness took Ill on Saturday and was taken to National Hospital. He, however, did not survive the bout.

Speaking with the Director, Communication and Public Relations Department of
NBS, Mr Sunday Ichedi Joel, the SG was slightly indisposed on Saturday, last week and he was taken to the hospital where he gave up the ghost this morning.

Harry took over from Dr Yemi Kale on August 31, 2001 as the Statistician General of the Federation after Kale had served out his eight years tenure.

While Kale was recruited from United Kingdom by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Harry grew from within the system.

To this extent, he knew the needs aspirations of the his staff and he did not waste time to restructure the place.

Considering his achievements within a very short time of eighth months, Daily Sun asked him if it was advisable that appoint the leadership of NBS from within and he said: “Definitely, experience in both administration and technical operations is not something you just come up overnight and acquire it. It is something you have to grow up within, learn from so many people and the process. Without you learning from the process there is nowhere you are going to apply it. That is why as much as possible we encourage government to
ensure that technical agencies, professional organisations are headed by people who grew up within the system so that the legacy that has been built up will continue to be built upon or consolidated. So, the Buhari administration is already toeing that line to ensure that people are picked from the system to take over the administration.
So, for me, it is a welcome development and it will help this country to a greater extent to grow faster”

In the last eight months the staff of NBS have heaved a sigh of relief from the maladministration of the past leadership. So, as an insider, Harry began install the lighting system which was absent before him. He restructured the entire structure of NBS and introduced trainings and rewards systems which were absent for over 15 years. He also promoted many staff and paid outstanding allowances.

In his interview with Daily Sun, he did not agree that his performance was a subtle indictment on his predecessor.

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Question: There is a sharp difference between you and your predecessors in terms of developments. What could be responsible? Is it not an indictment on him?

And: Well, it cannot be an indictment and I cannot see a miracle there because I have been part and parcel of the system. Having started from here and grew up here I know how the system has been going and where the problem lies.

So, when I took over, of course, I was following the trend of my predecessor who really worked tirelessly to ensure that data were produced. You might be calling it a sharp one but I don’t think it is a sharp one. Rather, I consider it as a consolidation of what my predecessor did.

So, when I took over, my first briefing to the entire workforce of the bureau was that I was going to focus majorly on three broad areas. One, the area of infrastructure. Two, the area of human resource management and development and three, the area of technical operations.

For us to achieve the third one, we must ensure that the manpower is well-developed. And then we must ensure that there is enabling environment for people to operate and effectively deliver on their services. So, immediately I took over, I started focusing on ensuring that we have a very decent environment within which we are going to operate. And so with the little resources provided and as somebody who actually has a stake in the system, I ensured that these resources were optimally put into use to start transforming the working environment gradually. So, that is why people are seeing a facelift in the organisation—–not because we borrowed money from somewhere but with the little resources available, we were able to do some of the things you are seeing. I know in management if resources are optimally put into use definitely they will be able to make some impacts.

So, the issue of indictment does not arise. Rather, it is a matter of priority. For me, my priority was, one, there must be constant power supply and I think since I assumed duty on August 31, 2021, there has never been a blackout for even one minute. As soon as light is off, our generator is on. We are also working to ensure that we have holistic installation of solar power so that NBS will be a fully modern organisation where staff will be proud to belong to.

Also, in the area of infrastructure, our offices were almost decayed. Our central air conditioner was not working. So far, we have been able to achieve almost 70 per cent of it. So, as staff come to work they are comfortable in their offices. There is nothing like heat anymore because there is constant supply of light and then the air conditioners are working. We are trying to change the lighting system in their offices. We are painting the entire environment with the little resources that we have so that everybody will belong to a system where when you’re in the office you’ll not go back home in a hurry. Rather, you’ll feel that the working environment is comfortable for you. So, why do you need to close and go back to a place, probably there will be no light . That, to me, is considered as a priority for us to be able to deliver on the mandate of the organisation which is that of producing statistics. So, in the area of cycle production we have started strengthening the data production framework.

And this is an agenda that certainly, very soon, we are determined to achieve. We must impact on the system, we must impact on the workforce for people to see value in what we do as producers of statistics.