A few days ago, more than 5.2 million American workers filed for unemployment as coronavirus shut down the economy. According to the US Department of Labor, these workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits and this brings the total number of Americans who have filed initial jobless claims to around 22 million. 

I shared these statistics to show how powerful data is. Accurate data helps to better understand national problems and who is most affected. African countries are missing this needed tool that can help to drive development. Let’s use Nigeria as an example.  Different groups came up with different population data: Most people believe Nigerian population to be 180 million or 200 million, depending on who you ask. No one knows the actual data. This is a serious national problem. How can you help people when you don’t know who they are, what they do and where they live? 
It is time to think and innovate. It is imperative for African governments to think differently and fix their problematic relationship with data. It is obvious that the state of Nigeria lacks accurate data. Unfortunately, African politicians may not understand how their success is linked to this tool; without data, you cannot measure progress accurately. Data allows you to visual cause and effect. This principle is inextricably linked to successful leadership.

Currently, the lack of data is affecting the covid-19 interventions in Nigeria and most African nations. Reaching out to Nigerians across the country is now a big issue. According to BBC News today, Americans have started receiving a minimum payment of $1200 each. These payments are delivered through direct deposit or by sending checks to mailing addresses of record. This is one of benefits of data.  Government, banks and individuals have contributed billions to fight coronavirus in Nigeria. Lagos Nigeria (CNN) reported on 27th March that the Nigerian government approved a 10 billion Naira grant (about $27 million) to fight the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The President released a 5 billion Naira (about $13 million) special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC). Wealthy members of the private sector including Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Herbert Wigwe, Segun Agbaje and Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man also contributed 1 billion Naira (about $2.7 million) each to support this government initiative.

On 1st April, The Guardian reported that the Government started the distribution of N20, 000 relief fund to homes. Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development said: “We have directed immediate cash transfer to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country,” He noted in his speech that the relief program will help Nigerians reduce the hardship caused by the outbreak which necessitated a stay-at-home order by the government. 

These are my questions: How are they identifying and distributing food and money to vulnerable households in Lagos, FCT, and Ogun State? What are the strategies without data? How are the impact of these efforts being captured…WHERE IS THE DATA?

As it turns out, there’s never been a more pertinent time for African countries to become more deliberate about data. “You don’t PREPARE IN crisis, you PREPARE FOR crisis.” This is why part of my everyday work is to help others to discover and develop their leadership capabilities. True leaders possess the ability and the capacity to inspire people to do what they thought they couldn’t do with a sense of purpose and vision. Africa, think, plan ahead and LEAD!
Wale Adekanla, Motivation Legacy…raising Eagles

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