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  • Writer's pictureJohnson C Onuoha

Data: A New Way to Rethink Policy Decisions of Government in Nigeria

The importance of data in driving fundamental changes in our daily lives, the economy, and the world at large cannot be over-emphasized. It is important in the operations of an economy and increases the ability for an easy data driven decision making approach. It provides a system that enables governments to provide and deliver efficient services. As a critical resource for increasing the efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of a government, data also supports a system for public services that respond to the needs of the citizens.

Data-informed policies present endless and enormous opportunities for a sustainable system in any economy. It helps to consider the central policies that may support significant indices or indicators of economic growth and development, on which poverty reduction and employment creation, and financial stability and other economic variables ultimately depend, citing specific examples from Nigeria and other countries.

Evidence and innovative solutions are made possible through the availability of quality data. It provides a way of rethinking the existence of policies for change.

Services are delivered more effectively and efficiently upon the availability of quality data from various relevant agencies and public sector bodies of the government. It also improves the quality and effectiveness of our policies and services, which results in better outcomes. When the government makes effective use of data, it makes better policies and delivers better, more tailored services for the economy.

Data can be used across the government to guarantee that the entire population receives the best possible support to meet their political and socioeconomic needs. Data is used by the government for predictions and analysis to anticipate rising demand for services, informing policy changes and preparing to meet people' and businesses’ changing demands, as well as informing government decisions on what services to provide and how they should be delivered.

Data reveals longer-term major adjustments that could help Nigeria establish more sustained solutions out of poverty and support a more sustainable economy in the future.

Ultimately, effective policy and decision-making by the government of any economy and its agents are primarily dependent on the availability and accessibility of data. To carry out their responsibilities and correctly offer important services, public policymakers, and administrators, as well as business executives and nonprofit leaders, need convenient access to quality, timely data and analysis about the state, communities, citizens, and economy.

Use of Evidence for Policy

By employing the best available research and information from program results as evidence to guide decision making at all stages of the policy promulgation process and at any level of government, data-based policymaking ensures a working and functional system. It recognizes and emphasizes what works, as well as providing evidence of program efficacy when it is absent. This allows policymakers to make decisions based on evidence, and it provides processes for monitoring, implementing, and measuring critical results, as well as leveraging this data to continuously enhance program performance for long-term sustainability. Data informed policy decisions provides the government with accuracy for a more effective system to the promulgation of further efficient policies based on evidence from available data. It helps government in the following ways:

Reduction in Wasteful Spending: Evidence on policy programs and outcomes helps to inform budget choices, and allows policymakers to identify and eliminate ineffective programs, and save up for more important uses.

Expanding more Innovative Programs: Evaluation of policies and programs helps to ensure workings and functionality, and identifies opportunities to target the expansion, improvement and funding of more innovative initiatives that deliver better and result driven outcomes.

Strengthening Accountability: By collecting reports from data on program operations and outcomes, it makes it easier to hold relevant agencies more accountable for results.


Underscoring the importance of data for transparency, accountability is a key factor. Data availability serves as a link between policy development and implementation. This means that before the government formulates and implements policy on projects, it should conduct intensive research to identify the data needed, the accuracy and usability of existing data, and to determine the data or analyses that are also needed but not readily available, and then solicit various opinions and suggestions for improving the current situation and developing a process that is rudimentary.

To guide these decisions, policymakers can use robust evidence, which can be made available through engagement and collaborative participation of research-based organizations, Think-thanks, NGOs, and others; allowing governments to select, fund, and administer public programs more strategically.

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