During a one day workshop held on Wednesday 24th July 2019 at the Miatta Conference Centre, Youyi Building in Freetown, organised by Statistics Sierra Leone, the Statistician General, Professor Osman Sankoh said that the ‘scandal of Inaction’ has been responsible for the wrong information in terms of data being sent out about the country’s Human Development Index. Present at the ceremony were the Representative from the UNDP, Director of research in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Yakama Jones, Deputy Minister of MoPED, Dr. Robert Chakanda, Representatives from NCRA, National Monitoring and Evaluation Department (NaMED), DSTI, NaCCED and the head of Mass Communications at FBC, Williette James, private sector representatives, CSOs and the media.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of the occasion, Moses Williams said that this workshop was last held in 2014 and it is geared towards improving the operations of the institution. Chairman Williams, who joined SSL in 1984 in the grade 2 category, rose through the ranks to the present position as Chairman of the Statistics Sierra Leone Council and therefore has all what it takes to man the institution as overseer, an apt disclosure by Francis Tommy when introducing him as Chairman of the occasion. The workshop, the chairman explained, brings together those who produce data and those who use it; Adding that the Act setting up SSL came into effect in 2008. Statisticians were recruited, trained and deployed across the country and in different MDAs.
He stressed that in this workshop, they will know whether the venture was fruitful or not, whether accurate, timely and reliable data has been produced. Statistics Sierra Leone has undergone a lot of transformation in the collection of data. In this digital age, Chairman Williams said that they have also embraced technology with the provision of tablets for the collection and analysis of data from the field.
Throwing a challenge to the audience, Professor Sankoh, giving the keynote address, said that the scandal of inaction has been the reason why statistics given for Sierra Leone has been questioned by many citizens. Many believe that the figures given do not reflect the real situation in the country. The report done by the UNDP are collected from various institutions and compiled and often where data is scarce, there has been procrastination, thus such reports will not reflect the true picture of situation. This is so because Sierra Leoneans have not been active in data collection.
He called for an avoidance of this scandal by joining SSL to give out the right figures. The government is doing all it can to see development in the various sectors like Agriculture, Health, Education etc. He maintained that if serious action is taken to implement all the plans, the Human Development Index will be changed. Statistics Sierra Leone plays a pivotal role in the development process, as the data it produces will help the government to plan its development programs.
Upon taking office over a year ago, the SG said, he developed a winner plan. With serious action and reformation in the institution, he is pleased to announce that Statistics Sierra Leone will be seating in the UN Statistical Council as a member next month. This, he said, is not a mean feat and demands full cooperation from all citizens. He expressed appreciation to both the outgone and the present ministers of MoPED for their work, adding that there is the political will. SSL has been transformed with a functional system in every aspect of the administration and work. The infrastructure has been developed and other facilities are in perfect order now. “Statistics Sierra Leone is different today”, Professor Sankoh stressed.
On the recent recruitment done by the institution, Prof. Sankoh maintained that strict system was put in place to get the right people for the job and in the process those who were unable to meet the requirements, were dropped. In this regard, he was being branded as difficult. He admits being difficult to the extent that he wants the right thing done. If this is achieved, then the expected outcome will reflect in the development of the country, as the government will use the data provided to shape its policies.
The institution, he added, partners with other agencies, including international organisations, for efficiency. He admonished the audience to ask questions any time data is published, whether it was derived from SSL. When leaders of ministries and institutions talk about data, the information is got from SSL, like the Central Bank, MoHS, MBSSE etc. he reiterated.
Professor Sankoh maintained that they promised the government that if given the financial resources, they will do 5 things, one of which is poverty profile. This, he said is being slowly but surely achieved.
SSL coordinates all statistical activities in the country as they want to create a viable National Statistical System (NSS) and make sure every report has some salt from SSL.
In his brief speech at the workshop, the Deputy Minister of MoPED, Dr. Chakanda, said that for the formulation of policies and the implementation of those policies, proper planning is needed and national statistics provide governments with this information. In Sierra Leone the institution that is charged with this responsibility is Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL).
The government, he went on, looks at 3 key issues namely; proper coordination: This puts the government in the position to make informed decisions for national development and its absence will result in poor planning; value adding potential deals with the value that accurate statistical data provides in the decision making process, adding that its absence will limit the government in making appropriate decisions and the formation of policies; and the third being the confidence of making appropriate decisions. In this respect, data is of vital importance in decision making and the choice of Professor Sankoh is a step in the right direction, he averred. Government, he maintained is in full support of the operations of Statistics Sierra Leone.
Several speakers made similar contributions buttressing the view of the Statistician General for collaboration to ensure credible data is produced and utilised for national development and repositioning of the country in the international lenses. The Coordinator of the program was Francis Tommy of SSL.