The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) yesterday condemned the employment process done for the 2014 population and housing census.
During the briefing, the Secretary-General of the SLPP, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, in the midst of other Party Executives including the Chairman Chief Somano Kapen, said that “there is a visible derision of the recruitment process with adverts for vacancies in the newspapers that are never followed by genuine interviews and screening processes”.
He said that the final list allegedly comprised of people handpicked from the nomination lists of APC Government ministers, their associates and management of Statistics Sierra Leone.
As a result, he claimed, over 90% of the cartographic mapping staff comprise of persons loyal to the ruling APC. He charged that some of the staff do not even speak the local languages in areas where they have been assigned.
Moreover, he commented that the cartographic mapping which is a major census preparatory activity that includes household counts has started with little or no involvement of the Technical Committee or an independent cartographic expert who should direct the entire process.
He said, buttressed by the party’s chairman that the coordination of the process has been left in the hands of carefully selected APC loyalists with an alleged sinister motive to compromise counts in favour of the strongholds of the APC. He said that they have learnt that the personnel, coordinating the process, is inundated with APC supporters and sympathizers.
The opposition party executive has noted that with such prevailing malaise in processes leading to the December exercise, the result emerging “ could not be trusted as it would not be transparent and lack the national representation that underscores a census process”.
Further, the Secretary-General noted, the overall preparations surrounding the census have been very disappointing, as the census machinery or structures that are supposed to be the foundation for census operations are either neglected or carelessly managed.
He pointed out that the steering (Advisory) and Technical Committee which should comprise of various stakeholders including representatives from all political parties are “almost dysfunctional” as important stakeholders and political parties have not been invited to sit on the steering (advisory) committee-a committee, they claim has met only once since its inauguration over six months ago.
More worrisome, they noted, is the absence of a Board or Council at Statistics Sierra Leone for almost three years, as against the requirement of statute.
They noted that it is a serious concern as the body plays a pivotal role in implementing the census advisory process.
Sadly, they claim, “such an essential process has been left in the hands of an ineffectual Statistician-General who was catapulted to the position under dubious circumstances. His appointment was never approved by Parliament as required by law.
He was put in the position purposely to manipulate the census data in favour of the ruling APC.
The Technical Committee does not have the required representation it deserves and meets infrequently because of financial constraints.”
Among the concerns raised by the opposition party during the conference is the absence of Chief Technical Adviser (CTA), who should serve as an independent arbiter that oversees the census process. They say “for international accreditation of census data, the inclusion of a CTA is a major criterion to guarantee transparency. The census process started last year in the absence of a CTA to supervise and observe the authenticity of the process.
By Poindexter Sama
Friday July 18, 2014