Former Nigerian central bank governor misleads in statement about Anambra state’s unemployment

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Nigeria’s former central bank governor, Professor Charles Soludo, claimed that Anambra state in southern Nigeria has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and attributed this to his party — the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). But the claim is misleading: the politician cited outdated statistics. The latest available data show that other states have lower unemployment figures.

Soludo made the claim on November 1 in a live TV debate with other candidates vying to become governor of Anambra.

The central banker-turned-politician will face a battle on November 6 to succeed his party’s incumbent Willie Obiano, whose tenure as governor ends in March 2022.

According to Soludo, the Obiano administration has improved the economy of Anambra to such an extent that the state outperformed all the others in terms of unemployment.

“For the records, Anambra state has the lowest unemployment of any state in Nigeria at 13 percent,” Soludo said, citing figures from the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). “Anambra state (also) has the lowest underemployment rate at 17 percent, of any state in Nigeria.” 

The NBS defines the unemployment rate as the proportion of the labour force that actively looked for work but could not find a job or worked less than 20 hours a week. 

The underemployment rate is defined as the proportion of the labour force that worked at least 20 hours but less than 40 hours a week or worked full time but was engaged in an activity that underutilised their skills, time and educational qualifications.

Soludo’s claim later resulted in an argument with one of the Arise TV debate anchors, Reuben Abati, who stated that Anambra had an unemployment rate of 44 percent, without giving the source. But Soludo insisted the figures were much lower.

The claim has circulated on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

Old figures and latest statistics 

In reality, the figures provided by the two individuals were true, but for different quarters in 2020. While Abati’s figures match the latest statistics from NBS, Soludo quoted old statistics from the second quarter of 2020.

According to the latest NBS data on unemployment for the last quarter of 2020, Anambra state recorded an unemployment rate of 44.22% and an underemployment rate of 16.48%, with 28 states in the country doing better.

NBS report showing Anambra's unemployment statistics for Q4 2020

However, the state’s unemployment and underemployment figures were the lowest at 13.1% and 17% in the second quarter of 2020, matching Soludo’s numbers.

NBS report showing Anambra's unemployment statistics for Q2 2020

Why the figures are so different

The NBS explained that it changed its methodology when it conducted the “abridged labour force survey under Covid-19” in the second quarter of 2020. 

The statistics bureau said that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restriction of movement hampered its fieldwork, which usually requires its staff to move around.

“NBS decided to deploy the use of the Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system to conduct the survey [Q2 2020],” the NBS said in the abridged statistics

“Some of the methodological changes made for this survey aside the use of telephones, include a reduction in the sample size of the households to be covered, and streamlining the survey questionnaire to reflect present realities under the Covid-19 situation.”

However, the statistics office reverted to the regular methodology in the last quarter of 2020 following the lifting of movement restrictions by the Nigerian government.

“NBS conducted this round of the survey using the usual face-to-face interview for data collection,” the NBS said in the Labor Force Statistics for Q4 2020.