The paper, Mr. King-Koroma noted, also alleged that there was no Chief Technical Adviser to act as an Independent Arbiter overseeing the census process to guarantee transparency. Above all, it alleged that the entire census process was left in the hands of “carefully selected All People’s Congress (APC) party loyalists.”
Responding therefore, Mr. King-Koroma said the allegations by the SLPP, “are unfortunate and a calculated attempt by the opposition party to criticize the credibility of a process of which they were a part of.”
Mr. King-Koroma maintained that the census process was carried out with the active participation of all stakeholders including the SLPP and referred to the opposition party’s actions as “unreasonable propaganda campaign” aimed at smearing a well transparent process and called on the public not to heed to the opposition’s propaganda.
“We will therefore embark on a campaign to educate the people on how the entire process was conducted for them to decide,” the Chief Statistician stated.
He explained that the census was conducted under the guidance of the Steering and Technical Committees whose memberships were drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), Irish Aid, Civil Societies, The World Bank, the Media, Data Users and Data Producers and the two main Political Parties in Parliament, the SLPP and the APC.
The Statistician General went on that before the start of the cartographic mapping in 2013; UNFPA recruited a cartographic mapping expert by the name of Roger Hare to prepare the ground for a successful mapping exercise.
He said at the end of his assignment, he did an overall assessment of the preparatory activities of the mapping process and described the exercise to be very good. “When Roger Hare left, another cartographic expert, Isaac Mwangangi, who in fact provided technical assistance to the 2004 census mapping process was also recruited by UNFPA to supervise the entire mapping of enumeration areas for the 2015 PHC,” Mr. King-Koroma explained.
He said the Census Technical Committee of which SLPP is a member represented by the Chairman of Moyamba District Council, Prof. Bob Kandeh, had suggested that an independent verification of the cartographic mapping be carried out by the committee to ascertain the level of coverage and accuracy of the work done by the mapping team.
He said the suggestion was accepted by the committee and on February 2015, SSL first conducted a verification of all localities in every chiefdom in the country to ensure whether their localities were visited and mapped by the mapping team.
The result of this exercise, he maintained, showed that all localities were covered by the teams.
Regarding the recruitment of census field staff, the Statistician-General also maintained that the SSL used the normal recruitment procedures which included advertisement, receipt of applications, short listing, interviewing and appointments were strictly followed as final selections were based on qualification.
Mr. King-Koroma explained that the average annual growth rate recorded for the period between 1985 and 2004 was as low as 1.8% compared to the 2.3% recorded between 1974 and 1985.
“A critical review of the situation from 1963 will show that there was already a steady increase of the growth rate from 2.1 percent between 1963 and 1974 to 2.3 percent between 1974 and 1985,” Mr. King-Koroma maintained.
He said during the data collection, a Census Command Center, Chaired by the Chairman of SSL Council and included the UNFPA representative, was established to address all emerging issues from the field and took remedial action.
He highlighted other points and said the process was correct and has been accepted by the international community. Mr. King-Koroma said they are now processing the main data for the release of the final results in December 2016. “We therefore stand by the figures of the provisional results,” Mr. King-Koroma asserted.