The main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) has on Thursday 2 June 2022 issued a press release condemning the provisional Mid-Term Population and Housing Census results announced by Statistics Sierra Leone.
On Tuesday 31 May, the Statistician General, Prof. Osman Sankoh announced that the population of Sierra Leone now stands at 7,541,641 – an increase of 449,528 (6%) since 2015, with 3,716,263 males and 3,825,378 females.
The Western Area (urban and rural) of Sierra Leone, which is a stronghold of APC now shows a population of 1,268,757, with urban Freetown losing over 40% of its population, from 1,055, 964 in 2015 to 606,701.
The 2021 census data is also now showing the ruling SLPP political southern region with the second highest population of 1,830,881 people; and northeastern region showing 1,316,831; and the northwestern region recording a population of 1,186,050.
In response, APC stated that they received the results announced by the Statistician General with consternation.
According to APC, they had previously addressed several letters of concern to development partners stating fact-based reasons why credible census data cannot be obtained amidst the level of unpreparedness of Statistics Sierra Leone.
“Statistics Sierra Leone rescheduled the enumeration exercise from December 2020 to April 2021, which underscores the deficiencies in the planning of such an exercise,” the party stated.
APC added that, “On 19th April 2021, the SLPP led government forced through and improperly laid in Parliament the Statutory Instrument for the Mid-Term Census. The Instrument was brought to Parliament after Statistics-Sierra Leone had already commenced cartographic mapping, a crucial antecedent to every census program which requires several months of preparation for a successful outcome.”
“Fellow Sierra Leoneans and members of the International Community will recall that the APC Party has been consistent in its apprehensions about the quality and standards of the mid-term census because it was flawed in terms. of processes, planning and implementation, thereby fuelling speculations about the dubious intentions of the SLPP Government to use the results of the Mid- Term census to proceed with boundary delimitation and thus create new wards, constituencies and districts to their advantage.”
According to APC, 13 registered political parties including the APC in the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) foresaw that the probability of failure of the Mid-Term census by far outweighs the justifications advanced for conducting a census midway into the 2022 Local Council Elections and the 2023 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
“On 7th December 2021, World Bank addressed a letter to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic and Development Planning in which the World Bank conveyed its reservations about the credibility of the process and withdrew its technical and financial support. The letter reads in part as follows;
“To date, while work on most action points is underway with some completed, several critical action points require further technical work to be satisfactorily addressed including evaluation of the pilot census, the field operation plan for the enumeration, and ensuring enumerators are adequately trained. All these outstanding actions are necessary and must be addressed prior to commencing data collection to minimize the risk of inadequate and poor data quality. There is insufficient time between now and December 10, 2021 to satisfactorily address all pending actions.
Therefore, while our technical team remains available to provide continued preparatory support, regretfully we will be unable to provide further technical assistance nor disburse any further funds under IDA Grant No. D584-SL to support the mid-term population census following the announced inception of data collection on December 10, 2021.”
The APC had made public these concerns bearing in mind that the World Bank, UN Agencies such as UNFPA and other Development Partners have contributed immensely in making sure that Sierra Leone conducts credible and all acceptable census.