Since the provisional result of the December 2015 PHS was released by SSL, many critics and commentators, notably, from the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), had alleged that there were weak structures for the implementation of the census processes and that the Steering and Technical Committees were unrepresentative and dysfunctional.
They also commented that there was no Chief Technical Adviser to act as an Independent Arbiter for transparency purpose and that there was monopoly of the census process by carefully selected All People’s Congress (APC) Party stalwarts.
The release states that based on APPA’s findings, the Association stated their position on the issue according to the facts they gathered.
Amongst other facts, “the structures put in place started with internationally acclaimed Consultants and Advisers who were highly experienced in Cartography mapping which was later supervised in 2014 by another expert that was hired by UNFPA.”
APPA also believes that the census took place under the watchful eyes of two committees – the Steering Committee and the Technical Committee that comprised international players like the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), World Bank, Irish Aid and key national players including the Media, MDA’s, Civil Society Groups, representatives of the two main political parties represented in Parliament, the governing APC and the opposition SLPP, and many other key stakeholders respectively.
“Sincerely speaking,” the release states, “APPA couldn’t find anything weak about the above structures as levied by these critics.”
The Association further noted that both the Steering and Technical Committees comprised highly qualified and experienced Technocrats that were really committed to the process, “otherwise one will hardly be speaking of provisional results by March, which is barely three months from December 2015,” adding, “Both Steering and Technical Teams have been and are still fully functional by all standard.”
The Association also believes through its findings that the main opposition SLPP had the former Statistician General, Professor Bob Kandeh, as a member of the Technical Committee and they would expect him to come out heavily on any suspected anomalies in the process given his position as opposition party representative and expert in the field of statistics, but no. “He hasn’t probably because the arrangements are quite standard,” the release states.
APPA found that most of the Technical Heads employed by the Statistician (Professor Bob Kandeh) in 2004 for the PHC were also maintained in the 2015 PHS, noting that whereas the Statistician General had been the Arbiter in the 2004 census process, it was charged in 2015 when UNFPA recruited a Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) to serve as an Independent Arbiter.
“On the criticism that the Census Officers were carefully selected from among the APC loyalists, this association could not justify (and we believe no one could) as there are people from all regions of the country occupying these positions and submission of party membership card was not a criterion for recruitment nor did an enquiry for that came up as evidence gathered in the transparent interviews conducted by SSL, UNCT, Civil Societies and the District Council Chairmen,” the release states.
It concluded that in the criticism of the increase in population in the North, “APPA would like to draw the attention of all to the fact that the population in the North has always been higher than that of the South and East.”