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27.10.2005 Regional News

Omanhene called for review of census law

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Koforidua, Oct 27, GNA - Daasebere Prof (Emeritus) Oti Boateng, the Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area, has called for the amendment of the constitution to institute regular periodic conduct of population censuses and electoral boundaries.

He proposed that legislation should establish a definite time frame within which population censuses would be taken, the establishment of a census fund independent of the budget of the Statistical Service to ensure smooth implementation of censuses and timely publication of the results.

Daasebre Prof. Oti Boateng gave the suggestion at the first inaugural lecture of the All Nations University, Koforidua, on Thursday. The topic was "Electoral boundaries review and population census periodicity: The need for precision and synchronicity in the process." He said Article 47(5) of the 1992 Constitution was, in part, "technically deficient for lack of the necessary ingredients of a valid interval," while the Statistical Service Law, 1995 (PNDCL 135) virtually left all major decisions for population census taking, including the periodicity element, exclusively to governmental administrative discretion.

Citing inherent technical drawbacks under the Article for periodic national censuses and drawing of electoral boundaries by the Electoral Commission (EC), he said the Article established two intervals of "not less than seven years" for censuses and "within twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after the holding of a census or whichever is earlier" for the later.

He described the clause "at intervals of not less than seven years" as "defective and devoid of the necessary ingredients of a valid interval", saying "it is technically non-existent, inoperative and non-functional as the remaining interval is left with no other interval to compare with."

Daasebre Prof. Oti Boateng, who was the Government Statistician who supervised the 1984 national census, said the intervals at which both electoral boundaries reviews and population censuses take place were "extremely important in view of the preconditions they produce for a viable democratic system", adding "the two must synchronise properly to facilitate the democratic process."

On the drawing of electoral boundaries by the EC, Daasebre Prof Oti Boateng said the Commission, at present, could not be expected to perform this crucial function "if for any reason, the conduct of the population census is held in abeyance".

He recalled with concern that the tradition of decennial censuses that Ghana sought to re-establish after independence with the 1960 and 1970 censuses was "sadly broken in 1980 and 1990 when no population censuses took place."

"Now that the 1992 Constitution is in full force with intrinsic linkage of timing of electoral boundaries reviews and population censuses, any inordinate delays in conducting population censuses in Ghana will have profound implications for our parliamentary democracy and updating of statistical date base for planning and development", he said.

Daasebre Prof Oti Boateng cited the periodicity of population censuses in the statute books of the US, Britain, Japan and Canada and recalled that the British Colonial Administration introduced the conduct of censuses in 1891 and the subsequent decennial ones except the 1940 and 1950 which was continued by the First Republic in 1960 and 1970. He suggested that with the 2010 possible census year less than five years away, preparation for it should start now, first with a legislation aimed at guiding the democratic process with more precision. The President of the ANU, Rev. Dr Samuel Donkor, who chaired the function, stressed the need for the appropriate legislation that would seek to promote democratic governance in the country.