By Alfred Koroma
Statistics Sierra Leone has on Tuesday last week announced the provisional results of the Mid Term Census conducted in December last year. From the results, Sierra Leone population has grown to 7,541,641 as against 7,075,641 in 2015.
It’s the sixth population census conducted in the history of Sierra Leone; the first Mid-Term Census, and the only census conducted in the country in less than ten years after a previous one.
The country had it first population count in 1802 in what is now the Western Area. After that, it took 161 years to conduct the first modern population census covering the whole country in April 1963. Since then, Sierra Leone has continued conducting censuses covering the whole country in December 1974, December 1985, December 2004, December 2015 and the Mid-Term Census in December 2021, all having ten years period in between, respectively.
It has been traditional for Sierra Leone to conduct its population and housing census after every ten-year period. So, having another census in 2021 just five years after the 2015 population and housing census was unusual, hence the controversy.
However, prior to its commencement, proponents of the Mid-Term Census had agued it was necessary to conduct the census to generate ‘credible’ population and housing Census data midway between 2015 and 2025 to address the many lapses and challenges of the 2015 census.
Indeed, the 2015 census had serious issues and the results projected the country’s population above expectation. More cynical was that the census made north, the political stronghold of the then ruling of APC party, the most populated region in Sierra Leone.
The then Government created two Districts in the region and de-amalgamated constituencies to their political advantage. This was strongly opposed by civil society organizations and the now ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) which was then in opposition.
But the Mid-Term census proposed by the current Government to remedy the challenges of the 2015 population and housing count was also marred with series of challenges, though some politically motivated. Unlike 2015, some key figures of the main opposition All People’s Congress publicly persuaded their supporters not to have themselves counted by the census officials.
The provisional results of the census have been announced. Eastern province, the political strong base of the ruling party is the now most populated region, a complete contrast of the 2015 census result – dejavu all over again.
As announced last week, the Mid-Term Census provisional results also sparked series of mixed-bag reactions. We have been following the reactions on social media. And we bring you some of them here:
Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah on Twitter
Despite warnings, the APC cooked up numbers in the 2015 census and shoved on us new const’cies. In 2022, SLPP is using the same cookbook to serve us their own figures and they too might give us their own new const’cies. Are we just pawns in their chess game? Or what goes around?
Vickie Romoe on Twitter
Sad. I have lost faith in Sierra Leone’s Statistician General because he lied when he said they counted everyone who slept at home on December 9.
I slept and woke up at home from December 1-Jan 1. Not a single @stats_sl enumerator came. My office and home same compound.
First I was at my house. Neither I nor my neighbors were counted. @stats_sl u r saying onus was on citizens to call you to tell you to include us in census? Even when people called noone showed up. @SheriffTania called toll 2x but was no one counted her household. #uncountedsl
December you never tweeted toll number or used ur platform to inform us about what to do if no one came. While census was going on in Dec @stats_sl was posting selfies of the statistician general.
Basita Michael on FaceBook
We do not know what Electoral Commission Sierra Leone and other bodies playing integral roles in the forthcoming elections have in store for us. However, we know for sure that considering the findings of the European Union Election Follow-up Mission, the mid-term census is unprecedented and the stated reasons for it are highly contested. Statistics Sierra Leone’s reputation has been dented by the World Bank’s withdrawal of support for the mid-term census and the recent allegations by Dr. John Idrissa Lahai regarding the qualifications of key officials and many other controversies surrounding the mid-term census,confidence in the institution is at an all-time historic low. As things stand, it will have to perform miracles to convince citizens about the accuracy and legitimacy of the census figures to ensure their use in the 2023 electoral process.
And on Twitter: Seeing the comments on the Provisional results of the 2021 Census and the past comments of the SLPP when they were in opposition I’m getting a sense of deja vu. We have been here before. This is just history repeating itself right under our watch.
Ing Francis Lahai on Whatsapp
Analysis of new census shows no foul games. If I recall, I was deeply involved in the 2015 census analysis. It was estimated that the population added was in the order of 10%. If we remove this 10%, then the correct population in 2015 was around 6,300,000 thereabouts.
The UNDP, the FAO and CIA all predicted the 2015 results 5 years earlier as around 6,300,000. APC proved all of us mathematicians as wrong. We were surprised with what came out.
Statistics shows that the Annual population growth of SL is about 3.0 -3.2%. Tgereforr in 6 years since the last census, the population would have grown by 20% simple growth formula. This 20% of 6.3 million translates to 1.26 million. This added to 6.3 million gives you 7.56 million, which is what we have today.
All SLPP has done is to prove correct the real population growth. No foul game. In all areas where there was added advantage in 2015, these have been removed or corrected now. Why are you crying foul?
Sylvia Olayinka Blyden on FaceBook
‘The 2015 population census exercise in Sierra Leone resulted in data of insufficient quality to inform critical economic development policy, planning and programs’- World Bank – December 7, 2021.
In the very first paragraph of this letter written by the World Bank to withdraw their support for the 2021 Census, they clearly and cogently said that the 2015 Census conducted in Sierra Leone produced data that is FAULTY and of quality that was not sufficient. So my point yesterday was simple. If the World Bank and other local and international partners say 2015 Census is of insufficient quality and now the 2021 Census is also with impugned data then what next?
Well, it is only President Bio as Supreme Executive Authority who will now take a decision as to the way forward for Sierra Leone population. This is what the Law says and this is why, as the main opposition party, the APC leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma should have been smart enough to NOT tell our people to refuse to be counted.
So, is Ernest Bai Koroma lacking in common sense? Of course not. He is a clever and manipulative person.
However, as I stated in my Audios last year, the decision by Ernest Bai Koroma to MISLEAD our people in APC dominated areas, so as for them to not get themselves counted, was very deliberate and I see it was done to leave the APC party very unstable and politically weakened. Time will prove me 💯 correct. Let’s be watching.
When the SLPP in Opposition had similar concerns over the 2015 Census, they protested several times and very loudly too but they never told their people to BOYCOTT being counted. Instead, they mobilised their people to be counted and they closely monitored the process (den been do Man Marking!) so why have the outgone executives led by Ernest Bai Koroma, misled our own people to boycott?
Meanwhile, let us ALL mobilise our people to go and register massively for the upcoming Voter Registration exercise in September this year. That is the best way forward because the 2021 Census was legally done under the Constitution of Sierra Leone and under the same Constitution, a sitting President has immense Prerogative. Do not allow anybody to continue to fool and mislead you more than they have already done. Go out and Register.