Home Politics ‘Fiasco’… Opposition Parties Slam 2022 Census Results

‘Fiasco’… Opposition Parties Slam 2022 Census Results

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H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: Barely few weeks after the pronouncement of the preliminarily results of the 2022 National Population and Housing Census by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), seven (7) opposition political Parties have categorically rejected the outcome of the CENSUS.

The parties said, the CENSU conducted by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), is a “flop” or fiasco (failure).

“Judging by the available facts,” the parties said, “the exercise was marred not only by technical irregularities but also corruption, negligence and lack of leadership.”

Reading the CENSU Rejection statement, on behalf of the opposition political parties, at the Headquarters of the Unity Party, in Monrovia, Dr. Luther Tarpeh, Chairman, of the Unity Party said, even as the government announced what it calls preliminary results, various homes and communities in the metropolitan areas of the country, as well as in some rural parts of the country, were not counted.

“ Practically, deployments at enumeration sites were not done as planned,” the UP Chairman asserted.
“After the failure of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government to fulfill Article 39 of the 1986 Constitution, which mandates that “The Legislature shall cause a census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years, a somewhat fraudulent census process was finally initiated between November 14 and December 18, 2022”, the parties stated in a joint statement.

The UP Chairman, on-behalf of the political parties, recalled how prior to, and during the period of the CENSUS enumeration process, there were slews of allegations of wanton corruption and uncontrollable mismanagement of census funds, causing distrusts, postponements, and pointless delays to the original start date.

According to the statement by the political parties, “as the constitutionally-flaw census proceeded against the advice of experts”, they saw documentary evidence of transfer of census funds into private accounts, and disbursements made to individuals who made no justifiable contribution to the census process.

“We listened firsthand to the revelations of experts, pointing accusing fingers at top managers of conniving to share census money among themselves,” the statement maintained.
According to the parties, “The abuse and mismanagement of the census process, coupled with public pressure for President George Weah to dismiss Wilmot Smith, the man who was in the center of all the allegations, with no prosecutorial action.
They (opposition) said, there were several missteps that allegedly followed the CENSUS process with no convincing action from the President.

It serves as a testimony of the fact that top government officials were also prime beneficiaries of the massive fraud at LISGIS.

The statement noted that Census workers instituted strike actions across several counties because their stipends were deliberately eaten by the usual suspects who they did not name.

A number of them they (the opposition) alleged, returned to their various homes, while the others who were stranded, sold the census tablets brought into the country to collect data.

“Considering the actions and inactions that attended the Census, we can conclude that the preliminary report issued by LISGIS is a reflection of the grand corruption with which characterized it” the statement read.

The Seven (7) opposition parties alleged that what is being paraded by few people at LISGIS, and supported by their benefactors is nothing more than a conspiracy hatched against the will of the Liberian people.
They continued by saying: “We unmasked this ploy long since before they embarked on its implementation. Few months ago, we announced to the Liberian people that the CDC government was hatching a devilish plan to tamper with the report.
“The veil on that plan has been removed and every Liberian can now see for themselves, through these “cooked numbers” coming out of LISGIS as representation of the population” the statement maintained.

The opposition parties called on Liberians to do the country a service by submerging personal interest and focus on the greater goal, which is lifting Liberia to a higher standard.
The seven (7) Political Parties that signed the rejecting the preliminary Census results include: the Unity Party of Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai; Liberty Party of Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence; Rainbow Alliance, Reginald B. Goodridge, Sr; Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction of Senator Prince Johnson; Liberian Peoples Party of Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe; Vision for Liberias Transformation Party, of Dr. Jeremiah Z. Whapoe; and Movement for Progressive Change of Simeon C.M. Freeman.

The Parties said “following a careful review and analysis of the released preliminary Census report, we hereby categorically reject the same.”

Going forward, the seven opposition political parties, in their joint resolution, also presented their position to Liberia’s international partners and both Houses of Liberia’s bicameral National Legislature.

They revealed that they have also requested the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the National Legislature not to use the 2022 Population Preliminary results for any elections-related decision.
Days before the categorical rejection of the 2022 National Population and Housing CENSUS results by the above mentioned political parties, President George Manneh Weah and some of Liberia’s international development partners praised the outcome of said CENSUS results.
President Weah especially described it as a “Job well done” and commended LISGIS for its work.
Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), With support from the Liberian government and international partners including the World Bank, Sweden, UNFPA, Irish Aid, ECOWAS, USAID and Ghana, recently released the provisional result of the National Population and Housing 2022 putting the Liberian population at 5.248,621 people.

Giving the report, LISGIS acting Director General, Lawrence George, said the data will be used as provisional figures until the final results are released by the end of May 2023.

Accordingly, the de facto population on census night was 5.2 million (5,248,621) he said, adding that the total population increased by 1,772,013, constituting 50 percent when compared to the 2008 census.

DG George further disclosed that the overall male population makes up 50.4 percent (2,644,450) of the people and the female population accounts for 49.6 percent, representing 2,604,171 and giving the national sex ratio of 101.5 male for every 100 females.

Furthermore, 1,187,388 households were enumerated, with an average national household size of 4.4 persons, while the national population density is 140 persons per square mile.

However, a critical analysis of the 2022 CENSUS Data released by one of Liberia’s acclaimed Data Experts, Teakon J. Williams speaks volumes.

Mr. Williams, a former World Bank Consultant with Liberia Land Authority said Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Margibi and River Gee are among the poorest counties in Liberia.

The state of counties like these is often cited to illustrate failures in terms of development, persistent poverty.

But, here is what has changed, a rapid increase of the populations of these counties as documented in the recent reports of the 2022 National Population and Housing Census by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo Information Services (LISGIS).
Census results have been a hotbed for decision making in the context of development for every developing nation including Liberia.
As remarkable these gains may be, more remarkable still is the fact that they are unprecedented and call for serious concern.
Bomi County’s population increase was 15,616 between 1984 and 2008 and 51,632 between 2008 and 2022. Bomi’s multi-dimensional poverty index value of 79.1 is above the national average of 71.2% (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning-MFDP, 2018).
“This figure connotes that almost 80% of the people of Bomi are multi-dimensionally poor and deprived of basic necessities,” Williams.

Similarly, Grand Kru County, in which the population increased from -5,685 (indicating negative population growth) from 1984 to 2008 (MFDP, 2018) dramatically increased in population, according to LISGIS report of the 2022 CENSUS, by 52,236 (91%).
The increment occurred despite Grand Kru being the most deprived and poverty-ridden county in Liberia at 90.6% (incidence of multi-dimensional poverty) (MFDP, 2018).

Such analysis, according to Mr. Williams, is the same with Grand Gedeh and River Gee with the incidence of multidimensional poverty of 74.9% and 81.4% respectively (MFDP, 2018).
He wonders: “What are the pull factors that drove this rapid increase?”

According to the former World Bank project consultant at Liberia Land Authority, a critical look at these counties showed that they experienced high absolute poverty, food poverty, and extreme poverty (MFDP, 2018).”
In a write-up, styled: “How Realistic Is the 2022 CENSUS: A Critical Analysis,” the former World Bank project consultant noted that these indicators are all push factors adverse to high population growth.
Moreover, he said, most of these counties Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Grand Kru as part of the southeastern region of Liberia, are the highest users of contraceptives at 22% (LDHS, 2013).
“The mere fact that the reported counties with the least opportunities for migration, with little attraction for domicile, and with the highest use of contraceptives, will attract high population growth creates room for more questioning of the process,” said Williams.
He added that LISGIS needs to explain this variation in these numbers and the factors that inform the result.

“Data are not conflicted; they speak to each other,” adding, “the report on contraceptive use, for example, is not speaking to the result provided by the LISGIS.”
Williams, however, viewed worrisome factors as well as contained in the 2022 LISGIS report.
Montserrado, Nimba, and Lofa counties, with many pull factors including agriculture activities, mining activities, better road access, access to jobs, showed marginal increases between 1984 and 2008 and 2008 to 2022.
For example, Montserrado had a population differential of 653,728 between 1984 and 2008 and 776,108 between 2008 and 2022.
In addition, the difference between the variances of the two periods (1984-2008 & 2008-2022) for Nimba is just 1,285. Similarly, the difference between the two periods for Lofa is 26,390.
“In a nutshell, there seems to be no correlation between counties with high pull factors and population increase. The reverse seems to be true. To make sound policy, decision-makers need information that is reliable and valid. Unfortunately, the preliminary census data reeks of inconsistencies,” he mentioned.
Among other things, Williams stressed that Statistics is not about politics. “Liberia is a gullible society where academicians are seen as nothing but mediocrity is awarded. We need reliable information to make sound decisions. As it stands, there are valid reasons to question the preliminary findings.”

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