Harry Simon: A deserved appointment




The appointment of Dr Harry Simon by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Statistician-General of the Federation is quite commendable as it is an appointment well deserved. Many have commended the president in this regard because this particular appointment has shown and continues to show that Nigeria is getting it right in her leadership recruitment processes, thanks to our president.

Dr Harry Simon, regarded by many as a personnel par excellence, was before his appointment a director in the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). He began his civil service career when he was employed into the service as statistician 2 in the same NBS in 1992 and rose through the grades to a substantive director, of corporate planning and technical coordination.
The current appointment by Mr President of a man who has spent nearly three decades in the NBS can be described as simply good for the nation because experience was the determining factor.


His appointment by the president is seen by many as a call for reform as Dr Harry Simon is credited to have contributed to many reforms in that agency including but not limited to the initiative which transformed the Federal Office of Statistics to its present status and nomenclature of National Bureau of Statistics.
This technocrat par excellence, who has nearly three decades of contributing to the nation statistically, has also contributed immeasurably to the reform process which created and established the states bureaux of statistics at the sub-national level to easily help in the harmonisation of the statistical needs of the federation.

As Washington Irling stated in his classical speech, little minds are turned and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them. Harry’s appointment is therefore a call by Mr President on him on behalf of the nation to change the present not to pleasant narrative at the bureau.

This is because the new statistician of the federation is seen by many as a rare personality and a man of multiple emotional and intellectual prowess; a scion of excellence and a champion of the workplace with a culture only the most ardent and rigorous can match.
He is a man of few words but prodigously talented, a strange throwback to an era when men counted commitments and personal productivity more excitedly than they counted the money in their wallets or the food in their belly.

It is true that Harry has passed through personal pains, emotional distress and physical exhaustion, such that at different times he has come across as a man with the weigth of the world on his shoulders or as an atlas reborn; he still moves on for the sake of the fatherland – an example of his patriotism.


This statistician has for the nearly three decades of his selfless and meritorious service to the nation shown a super human capacity for hardwork, doggedness and a deliberate pursuit of a world class national statistical data standards. With this appointment of him by Mr President, it is expected that his sheer force of personality will bring a new culture of data integrity, timeless credibility and accuracy to a once error prone business of national statistics.

We trust that as a person, Dr Harry Simon has been selfless and as a professional, he has been resolute, responsible and remarkable. Harry has today by this appointment recommitted to shaping a team of national data managers that would create an indellible legacy as this would be a take of his stewardness as he finishes his tenure which is just beginning at the bureau.
Today, many also see, very importantly, his appointment to be a tonic that would invigorate an institution that was hitherto known for lethargy and poor imagination in the execution of its mandate. It is also expected that during his time the bad narrative about the NBS as an agency known for its overbloated bureaucracy but weak data quality and website obsovelecy would be corrected. We trust now that the Bureau’s website that was virtually never updated on a timely basis will be better managed.


The NBS during his time should be an agency that would be a beehive of activities that would produce much data on a proper timeline. This new transformational call in output priority of the NBS by Nigerians is genuine as many today see the NBS as largely to blame for the non attainment of the country’s Milliniuem Development Goals, MDGs, and the ongoing Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. We believe and worthy to note that his promise of making his tenure and reforms an exampler for public sector reforms templates would be a reality.


We trust that his appointment would reverse the lack of energy and data collaboration processing, reviews, and analysis by the NBS. The call for the NBS to expand the scope of its activities and set annual achievable timelines and benchmark through a pragmatic and systematic leadership imagination is now a reality with the appointment of Dr Simon Harry as the statistician general of the federation.
It is finally the expectations of all analysts and statistics and data users that the new statistician-general would work on a new and modern Statistical Act with the National Assembly that would specifically lay down the mandate for the statistics agency. This Act must identify all information sought and requested by the NBS from individuals, businesses, all tiers of government and especially the MDAs as mandatory and compulsorily given except those designated as voluntary. This would go a long way in ensuring the credibility of the statistics and data released by the NBS.

Wada writes from Abuja via 08035937424.

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