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Maada Bio Calls For Stakeholders Forum

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Maada Bio Calls For Stakeholders Forum

The 2012 Presidential candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio has called on the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party government to create a forum of stakeholders to address the various reports on the national census.
Among other recommendations, Mr. Bio also called for the nullification of the cartographic mapping that has been criticized by various reports including the recent one done by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR).
“Create a forum that will bring political parties, Civil Society Organisations and donors to address the issues raised above and in the various reports on the national census process”, Brig. Bio’s statement reads.
Brig. Bio, arguably the most popular opposition politician notes in his statement released on Thursday last week in London that while Sierra Leoneans were dying of the Ebola virus disease, the APC government was busy plotting to rig the forth coming election by manipulating the census process.
Read full statement below……

MAADA BIO SPEAKS ON THE 2015 POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS


PRESS STATEMENT

London, Thursday, January 29, 2015
As we mourn our compatriots who fell victim of the deadly Ebola virus either as health workers or ordinary citizens, and as we all obey the emergency regulations put in place to contain the virus, the APC is busy putting in place all sorts of clandestine measures to ensure another rigging of the forthcoming local council, presidential and parliamentary elections. One of such means is the 2015 Population and Housing Census.

Before the launch of the Census process in 2012, the APC Government under dubious circumstances sacked a qualified Statistician General and replaced him with an Engineer who is a less qualified person to hold such a position. The Government also set up a Census Management Team comprising personnel who the APC believes can execute their rigging plan. The Census Management Team has in turn recruited known APC members as District Census Officers. Some of the District Census Officers either contested for 2012 parliamentary elections or are currently executive members of the APC. There are now plans to recruit Field Officers, Supervisors and Enumerators and it is becoming clear that the recruitment will be skewed towards members of the APC. Certainly, the purpose of such intrigues is to rig the census in favour of the APC.

The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), a reputable Civil Society Organisation published findings of a study titled “The credibility of the 2015 Census in Sierra Leone: Will all Heads be Counted” in the Volume 3 edition of Critical Perspective of Governance issued in January 2015. The study clearly noted flaws in the census process which have since then become a national concern. Among other things, it pointed out that there are noticeable biases in the cartographic field mapping as manifested during the Pilot Census. For instance, nearly 50% of the pilot Enumeration Areas (EAs) visited in the South have less than 60 EAs while 75% of the EAs visited in the North have more than 60 EAs.

A study also funded by DFID titled “Improving the performance of Statistics Sierra Leone” undertaken by Dr. Pepper, identified intrinsic weaknesses in Statistics Sierra Leone which need to be addressed to enhance its capacity to undertake a credible census. Among other things, the report defines a management structure for Sierra Leone compatible with international best practice. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development set up an interim Committee to look at the DFID-sponsored consultancy report. Overall, the interim Committee accepted most of the recommendations. Regrettably, however, the findings and recommendations of the report have been ignored. This has allegedly been the main reason why the DFID has refused to fund Statistics Sierra Leone and the Census. 

On August 5, 2014, the former Chairman, Statistics Sierra Leone, Mr. Claudius Malamah Thomas wrote a letter to H.E. President Koroma on the subject “The Governance and Development of Statistics Sierra Leone”. The letter mentioned, among other things, that ‘’…. the Census process was itself faced with two major challenges. These were the existing funding gap and the lapses in the mapping exercise which were determined from the Council’s monitoring of the Pilot Census Survey in April/May 2014. Few months after, the Council was dissolved and subsequently replaced for reasons we cannot fathom.

It is now abundantly clear that the process is flawed and incredible. I therefore join my party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and All Political Party Association (APPA) to call for a postponement of the census process until Sierra Leone is declared free of the Ebola Virus Disease. 

Additionally, I call for the following:
· * Nullify the current Cartographic Mapping and redo another in a transparent manner and involving all political parties. The report of the new Cartographic Mapping should be submitted to stakeholders at district level for validation. 
* Government implement the recommendations of the study funded by DFID and conducted by Dr. Pepper titled “Improving the performance of Statistics Sierra Leone”. The report defines a framework for a professional and credible census process.
* Terminate the appointments of all District Census Officers who are known members of the ruling APC and ensure future recruitment is handled by independent body agreed by all political parties and is devoid of partisan bias.
* Create a forum that will bring political parties, Civil Society Organisations and donors to address the issues raised above and in the various reports on the national census process.

Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio


SLPP Presidential Candidate (2012)


Currently, Senior Research Fellow


John & Elnoral Ferguson Centre for African Studies

(JEFCAS)
University of Bradford


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