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Enumerators resolved to boycott census

By Kruah Thompson

Barely a day before the conduct of the country’s first digital national population and housing census, aggrieved enumerators of the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) have threatened to seize electronic gadgets and boycott data collection process if they do not receive pay.

President George Weah has declared Friday, 11 November a public holiday to enable citizens stay at home and be enumerated. 

It may be recalled that after the 2022 National Population and Housing Census was announced in October, a total of 20,000 persons applied online.

However, 17,071(seventeen thousand seventy-one) persons were selected and asked to sit an aptitude test.  At the climax of the test, LISGIS promised to feed, transport, and provide US$20 stipend daily to successful candidates, amounting to US$100 for each trainee attending a five-day workshop, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

According to an aggrieved enumerator, Prince Weah (no relations to President Weah) a dime wasn’t paid for the five days of sitting, and enumerators fed themselves from morning to evening, thus leading to violent protests in some parts of the country, with Grand Bassa county being one of the areas affected.

Following the President’s proclamation for a holiday, many enumerators expressed dismayed over LISGIS’ failure to pay, threatening to seize electronic gadgets that will be used to conduct the census. They also threatened to boycott the data collection process on Friday, if they do not receive pay.

Speaking via a phone call, another enumerator Miamah Sickey from Caldwell expressed disappointment in LISGIS.

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She says LISGIS continues to assure the public that census will be conducted this Friday, November 11, without paying enumerators, maintaining that they will boycott the data collection.

Besides, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah told ELBC radio on Tuesday, November 8, that a total of 500 individuals have been paid, while the remaining 592 will be paid subsequently, urging those in such category to exercise patience because “the money is coming.”

The minister appealed to aggrieved enumerators not to disturb the data collection process, as government is preparing for those who did not receive pay because of mobile money issues.

Commenting further on protests in several counties, Tweah said LISGIS was trying to get 1700 individuals out of a total of 29,000 applicants, and that they were training people whose names were not among the 29,000 that were selected.

For his part, Nimba County District# 8 Representative, Larry Younquoi, said it is better to suspend the census and recalibrate the entire process.

He said doing so would enable the nation to be better informed to turn out for the conduct of the 2022 census. “But without this, people will see the current situation and decide not to be counted”, he said.

Representative Younquio made the call Tuesday via a letter that was read at the planetary of the House.

He however said he will show up to be counted if the government refused to listen to his call, but he could not sit and see something going wrong without talking about it.

But pundits disagreed with Representative Younquio’s call, noting that Article 39 of the Liberia Constitution gives the Legislature the right to set date for census, not LISGIS on its own.

Many citizens, including enumerators, have joined the Nimba lawmaker in his call to suspend or postpone the date for census.

A resident of Monrovia, Augustine Mulbah, said he supports the call for further postponement of the census because of the way things are going with continuous protests by enumerators, adding “If the country is not ready, it is not ready.” Editing by Jonathan Browne

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).

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