Amidst the shaky kick-off of the ongoing census which led to serious public criticism against against the government, President George M. Weah has with immediate effect, sacked the Acting Director General of the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), Wilmot Smith, and its Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Processing, Alex M. Williams.
According to the President’s Communication, Smith, and Williams were dismissed “for administrative reasons.” The press statement, issued late Monday evening, stated that the two Deputy Director Generals were dismissed for “Negligence and Unseriousness.”
In the press release, the Liberian leader urged all those holding positions of public trust to act with diligence and seriousness in the discharge of their duties. Both men were also ordered to turn over all properties belonging to the institution in their possession.
Nevertheless, the two LISGIS officials dismissal followed the ongoing census kick-off to a shaky start, leading to public criticism against LISGIS leadership and the Weah led-administration.
With the new technology adopted for the conduct of the current 2022 census, the process has however been marked by serious failures and challenges, which has slowed the ongoing exercise.
Since 2008, Liberia has been unable to conduct another round of census, despite the fact that one is planned every 10 years under the Liberian Constitution of 1986. This census is also projected to produce new constituencies in the run-up to the Liberian general and presidential elections in 2023.
Meanwhile, President Weah has at the same time designated the LISGIS Deputy Director General for Administration, Lawrence George, to act as Director General while Prof. Francis Wreh is on a leave of absence.
The President’s decision to have fired the two LISGIS bosses may have also been triggered by a verbal outburst and tussle on OK FM on Thursday over the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census.
During the radio station’s morning program, LISGIS Acting Boss, Smith, via mobile phone, encouraged citizens to stay at home and be counted by LISGIS enumerators. Smith said all was set for the team at LISGIS to begin the conduct of the census as announced by the President through a proclamation.
He added that while there have been a series of challenges confronting LISGIS, those challenges were minor and were taken care of, including the deployment of supervisors and enumerators across the country.
However, reacting to Smith’s claims, Williams dismissed the assertions of his Boss and alleged that the entire process was marred by corruption and gross incompetence, which he claimed was undermining the conduct of the census.
It can be recalled that prior to their dismissal, Williams has since March raised an alarm of census money having been withdrawn and misappropriated but has also been denied by the LISGIS Director General Francis Wreh and his Deputies which include Lawrence George now Acting Director General, and dismissed Wilmot Smith.
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