Gather a group of Nigerian children and ask them about their future ambition and it is almost certain none would mention being a Data Analyst. The result from this would most likely be no different if this is conducted with the adults.
The unfortunate reality is that Nigerians do not appreciate the value of data in decision making.
On the 26th of February 2016, at the Landmark center, a group of people from varying fields sat together for the Social Media Week session ‘When DATA Speaks’.
The panel was made up of Dr Bell Ihua (CEO, NOIPolls Limited), Japheth Omojuwa (social media entrepreneur & blogger), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu (Managing partner, EpiAfric), Nancy Illoh (TV host, AIT), Adewale Ajadi (Country Director, Synergos in Nigeria) and the moderator, Faith Onyebujoh, radio presenter, Hot FM Abuja.
This event was organized by NOIPolls LTD to discuss the need for data in driving development in the various sectors of the society.
Dr Bell Ihua, the CEO of NOIPolls LTD explained that it would be impossible to make informed decisions without the help of data which is the compass that points decision makers in the right path. However, in order to make informed decision, data has to go through a process in order to become credible data. He explained that credible data is not cheap and requires financing and lamented the lack of support from the government in data financing and from the citizens in readily supplying information.
In support of Dr Bell was Nancy Iloh, the host of AITs The Money show, “Data is key, be it in planning as a government or in planning as an individual.” Nancy said. She expressed her disappointment that the government of Nigeria do not know the exact amount of unemployed Nigerians and that as far as the population of Nigeria is concerned, no single reliable number could be agreed upon simply because we do not value data gathering.
On the importance of data in good governance, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Managing Partner of EpiAfric said, “Accountability stems from demand… we need data to understand what is needed so as to drive demands to the government.”
How then can this data, which the panels praised as the new gold, be gathered? As revealed by Dr Bell Ihua, staff of NOIPolls Limited gather their data through several means; the phone, questionnaires and online. The social media entrepreneur, Omojuwa, stated that social media, twitter especially, has aided in data gathering through the survey questions being asked regularly on that platform.
Having data, however, is not enough. one would need to understand it so as to glean insight. This is why Data Analysts are needed. Adewale Ajadi spoke on this. He said that we can use data to tell a story however the correct interpretation of data is critical to tell the story right.
It can be gleaned from this session that in order to move forward as a nation and achieve developmental goals, we would need to take data seriously and begin to see it as a serious field to explore be it as students studying in schools or as adults faced with decision making.
When data speaks, refusing to listen can only mean choosing to grope in the dark.