… The duo’s dismissal comes as the ongoing census gets off to a bad start, leading to public criticism of LISGIS management.
President George Manneh Weah fired with immediate effect the Acting Director General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geographic Information Services (LISGIS), Wilmot Smith, and the Deputy Director General of Statistics and Data Processing, Alex Mr. Williams.
According to the president’s communication, Smith and Williams were terminated “for administrative reasons.” The press release, published on Monday, said the two deputy general managers had been fired for “negligence and lack of seriousness”.
In the press release, the President urged all those in positions of public trust to act diligently and seriously in carrying out their duties. The two men are ordered to return all property belonging to the institution to their possession.
The duo’s dismissal comes as the ongoing census gets off to a shaky start, leading to public criticism of LISGIS management. With the new technology adopted for the conduct of the current 2022 census, however, the process has been marked by serious setbacks and challenges, which has slowed down the ongoing exercise.
Since 2008, Liberia has not been able to conduct another round of censuses, despite the fact that a census is scheduled every 10 years under the Liberian Constitution of 1986. This census is also expected to produce new constituencies with the approach of the general election and presidential elections in 2023. And the first for many years.
According to the United Nations Population Division, censuses are important national endeavors in assessing a nation’s actual population size, growth rate and distribution, education levels, and determining other indicators of socio-economic development.
The country’s most recent census recorded a total number of 3.5 million. In addition to the 2008 census, three national censuses were conducted starting in 1962 (1.1 million), 1974 (1.5 million) and 1984 (2.1 million) respectively. The country therefore has a reasonable experience in conducting censuses.
Meanwhile, Weah has appointed LISGIS Deputy Managing Director for Administration, Lawrence George, to act as Managing Director while Professor Francis Wreh is on leave.
The president’s decision to fire the two LISGIS bosses may have been sparked by a verbal outburst and scuffle on OK FM on Thursday over the conduct of the national housing and population census.
During the radio station’s morning show, acting LISGIS boss Smith, via cell phone, encouraged citizens to stay home and be counted by LISGIS investigators. Smith said everything was ready for the LISGIS team to begin conducting the census announced by the President through a proclamation.
He added that although there were a series of challenges facing LISGIS, these challenges were minor and were taken care of, including the deployment of supervisors and investigators across the country.
However, reacting to Smith’s claims, Williams dismissed Boss’s claims and alleged that the whole process was tainted with corruption and gross incompetence, which he said undermined the conduct of the census.
Meanwhile, it may be recalled, since March, Williams has been sounding the alarm that census money has been withdrawn and embezzled.
However, LISGIS chief executive Francis Wreh, who is on leave, had dismissed Williams’ allegations as simply a campaign to derail the institution’s image. He however maintained that there is no corruption scandal at LISGIS and assured the public that the census is irreversible and that 21,000 tablets, power banks and other accessories for the success of the census are already in the census. country.
George, who is now the acting chief executive, also denied the embezzlement allegation and said Williams was delusional.
Also,. Smith denied Williams’ embezzlement allegation, saying that LISGIS is corruption-free and that UNFPA recently concluded the audit of the Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers, which was carried out by BDO LLP. However, he failed to disclose the audit recommendations.
“The audit report found no evidence of corruption,” Smith said. “The government, through LISGIS, has contributed $3.7 million to the UNFPA-managed census basket fund.”