April 11, 2016 By Yusuf Keketoma Sandi
If I was a lexicographer (a person who compiles dictionaries) I would have inserted a new name in the dictionary for a government which suffers from credibility deficit – All Peoples Congress. But maybe if I put a lexicography degree on my CV and I am facing a parliamentary committee I would have four ways to defend it courtesy of APC presidential nominees.
Firstly, I may produce on social media an expired dodgy certificate without a seal from an awarding body. Secondly, I may produce a certificate of my lexicography degree with the inscription “mas certified” using the Canadian template. Thirdly, I may choose to say my university has not given my degree because I owe the university some money. Or finally, I will just tell the committee I forget to bring along my certificate. Don’t worry, I will still be approved by Parliament. And just in case I am also asked to recite the national pledge, I will confidently and spectacularly recite it wrongly but don’t still worry, I will be applauded by Parliament.
For many people who have lost faith in this government to effect changes in their lives, every passing week brings pessimism and hopelessness with either a major government scandal or an embarrassment. Sadly, in the midst of the scandals and embarrassment many people would think President Koroma has either failed to show leadership or whenever he reacts it has been selective and painfully slow.
The fact that Hon. Logus Koroma is still Minister of Transport after the ‘Busgate’ scandal and the international embarrassment of Fly Salone airline even when the President was used in the publicity stunt, it makes the line – there are no sacred cows in this government – a golden dream. And since under this government we can only dream of things, I hope to dream about the findings and recommendations of the investigation on the ‘Trashgate’ scandal. Also, since the President said in a news conference on Thursday that he will be making a stopover in Beirut, Lebanon, on his way to Turkey, he will need to tell the authorities in Lebanon that Sierra Leone is no longer opened for the “Lebanese Waste Business”.
Like a callous government which only cares about itself, the only language the government understands now is through protests and placards. For many years under this government, students at Fourah Bay College (FBC) have gone through the worst conditions; it only took a protest with placards in the streets for the government to realise their sufferings. If that was not shameful enough, almost a year after the President promised Ebola survivors that government would provide them with necessary social services, the Ebola survivors had to resort to street protests after many months of neglect. And if the President really cares about the sufferings of ordinary people, it is high time he also responded to the months of campaign by civil society organisations on the reduction fuel prices. Why can’t you Mr. President?
Just on the flawed census, I listened to my friend the Deputy Minister of Information, Cornelius Deveaux, who said on FM 98.1 that one of the reasons for the increase in the census figures in the North was because many Northerners who migrated to the Southeast had returned back to the North after SLPP unleashed so much political violence on them during the 2007, 2008 and 2012 elections. When you have a government deputy minister giving such an official reason for increase in population in the North, you can tell the calibre of government we have. It was foolhardy for anyone to think that a census process which recruited known APC officials and former APC parliamentary candidates to involve in data collection and census management at district level predominantly in the North would be near anything credible.
Take for instance Port Loko and Bombali Districts, we were told in the 2015 report by the Institute of Governance Reform that the Port Loko District Census Officer, Mohamed S. Kamara, contested for the APC parliamentary symbol for constituency 49 in the 2012 elections while the Bombali District Census Officer, Mohamed Conteh, was the APC Propaganda Secretary, Bombali District. In these two districts the provisional census report shows that just the increase in their population alone from 2004 to 2015 is almost 400,000 people. To say that such an incredulous increase in both districts is just down to teenage pregnancy and mining activities is a mere APC fantasy.
When our APC apologists also tell us that since 1963 census the North has always got the highest population compared to the other regions, that is a bit too simplistic. The provisional census report goes beyond that. It is about a flawed process which recruited a bunch of party loyalists who hijacked a development process to set the stage for a skewed boundary delimitation process ahead of elections. It is about a non-transparent process which failed to count thousands of people in Western Area yet they want us to believe that since 2004 to 2015 the shocking increase of 757,149 in population in the North has not been inflated by District Census Officers who are only loyal to APC.
Some of our APC friends have also said that SLPP should have raised the issues regarding the flawed census before now and not after the provisional census report. But that claim can only stand against SLPP if someone suffers from selective amnesia. Before now the SLPP had released two separate press statements in which they catalogued series of flaws and made recommendations.
Even the leading flagbearer aspirant of the party, Rtd. Brig. Bio issued a statement highlighting flaws in the census process and made recommendations. Other stakeholders in the party engaged the media condemning a census process which became political gymnastics for the APC. The very representative of the SLPP in the National Advisory Committee, Prof. Bob Kandeh, was not even invited to crucial technical committee meetings. Now, the numbers have been cooked up they want us to swallow them. Impossible!
Funnily, according to the Deputy Minister of Information, Cornelius Deveaux, on FM 98.1, the census process is credible because the ADP leader, Mohamed K. Mansaray, has stated that the process is credible. Well, in the view of Cornelius if Mohamed K. Mansaray is his new yardstick to measure whether a process is credible, flawed or someone is performing better or worse then Cornelius would also agree with Mohamed K. Mansaray when he said on March 20th 2016 at the SLBC that “President Koroma has failed the nation”.
©Yusuf Keketoma Sandi