Barely 72 hours after the official release of Kenya’s 2019 population figures, leaders from Northern Frontier Districts have dismissed the outcome, calling for a proper audit.

President Uhuru Kenyatta received the latest national data on Monday and directed the country’s Treasury to ‘start using the statistics immediately for resources allocation’.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the country’s population stands at 47.6 million people, an increase of paltry 9 million in 10 years.

Residents of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties had on Monday disputed the figures, setting the pace for their leaders who have since joined the bandwagon.

Leaders led by National Assembly Majority Leader on Wednesday rejected the figures, accusing KNBS of ‘doctoring’ the results to discriminate the North-Eastern region.

Duale, a key ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, called for urgent auditing of the results. He termed the statistics as ‘opaque and cooked’.

“Don’t think that you can cook numbers… If you want to sustain your tyranny take it to the bedroom, not the boardroom,” the Garissa Town MP protested.

“If you have too many men who do they marry? Do they marry themselves? We want the raw data and server opened,” he added.

His sentiments were backed by former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow who insisted that the high birth rate at the region could not translate to the low population.

“North-Eastern (3 Counties) their census in 2009 was 2.39 million, yesterday, the figures released were 2.47 million meaning the growth was 80,000- a region that has the highest birth rate. How did the figures come down?” Kerrow questioned.

Former National Assembly Deputy Speaker and Lagdera MP Farah Ahmed also dismissed the figures as ‘manipulation’. He accused unnamed people of Central Kenya of masterminding the predicament.

“Population census in Kenya is always riddled with manipulation. Central Kenya leaders can now celebrate the shrinking of the Somali Population. For ten good years leaders from Central Kenya slept, woke & dreamt the population of former NEP. Remember what goes around comes around.”

Governor Ali Roba of Mandera vowed to challenge the figures in the court. He blamed senior government officials of manipulating the figures, adding that they are meant for ‘political propaganda’.

“We cannot accept a notion that a government agency can incorporate political propaganda into key policy decisions that will negatively affect generations,” he said, adding that he will move to court.

The KNBS Director Zachary Mwangi defended his team, arguing that the results delivered to the President reflect the actual population in every administrative unit.

Mwangi denied manipulating the figures at the detriment of other Kenyan communities. The statistics boss insisted that the figures were accurately captured.

“The results show population distribution, that is the number of people, number of households as well as the average size at national, county and sub-county level per administrative unit. There is a difference between administrative unit and political unit,” Mwangi said.

In the results, Mandera County’s population reduced from 1.02 million in 2009 to 867,000. For Wajir, the population increased by 100,000 in 10 years. The figure stands at 781,000.

Interestingly, despite the population of Garissa being recorded at 841,000, the number of men was slightly higher than women. The overall population of NFDs stands at 2.5 million from the previous number, 2.3 million.

Population figures are fundamental in the economic planning of the country. Besides the poverty index and landmass, the population determines resource allocation.

Also, the numbers determine who takes over government in Kenya’s tribal political set up. There is a debate to change the constitution by adopting the Parliamentary system of government from the current presidential system.

By ABUGA MAKORI IN NAIROBI

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