It has been fourteen years since the Liberian government has performed a National Population and Housing Census. Our country is being disillusioned by a process that is our constitutional right - we desperately need to remove ourselves from this stifling holding pattern and move towards progress that will bring revitalization and progress.
Liberia has been a nation of promise for 174 years, yet we have only conducted four Censuses.
Our first Census, occurring in 1962, accounted for 1.1 million Liberians while our last Census of 2008 accounted for 3.5 million Liberians. Current estimates place our population at over 5 million!
This means that new generations are being formed and families are moving around, increasing the need for basic human necessities. Our country's current "headcount" is the key to unearthing vital resources like social welfare programs, schools, hospitals, and improved policies that govern our law enforcement programs.
Despite clear directives provided in Article 39 of the Liberian Constitution of 1986, our government has miserably failed us every step of the way. In 2018, we were told that a lack of funding prohibited a successful Census, which tells us two things:
our government is incompetent and as a result, unable to handle its fiduciary responsibility
our current President does not have the leadership acumen we need; we had the unwavering support of an international community and missed the opportunity that relationship meant for our country
It is widely known that the Embassy of Sweden, The World Bank, the Embassy of Ireland, and the UN Country Team provided technical and financial assistance to move the 2022 National Population and Housing Census forward successfully.
It is also widely known that corruption runs rampant under our current leadership, so much so that it has been openly proclaimed by the Census Coordinator, Mr. G. Alex Williams. Mr. Williams' conversations with the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has revealed the irregularities spawning from our corrupt, inept governing body. These are factors that impede our ability to use the valuable help we have available.
Adding to the issue is the confusion that has been cast upon thousands of Enumerators, leaving them uncertain of assembly and testing dates. In Montserrado County, applicants wishing to serve as Enumerators were given conflicting instructions on where and what time to report by LISGIS. Disorder was amplified as the names of qualified applicants were associated with incorrect counties.
Sinoe County was cited as having a population of 104, 932 in 2008 while Montserrado County has a reported population of 1, 118, 241. These are significantly populated counties that are hours apart in travel time, yet there was confusion that a citizen from Sinoe may have registered as a citizen from Montserrado.
Problems continued to escalate with Enumerators not receiving payment after completing tenday training sessions. Early November saw us hopeful that Census activities mandated by the President as beginning on November 8, 2022, would occur, but as of mid-November, the process has been halted. A prepared cohort of well-qualified and trained Enumerators still waits to receive assigned work zones - all due to inadequate oversight by the government and the team at LISGIS.
How do we trust our government when our government has done nothing to address this?
Madam MacDella Cooper understands that it is time for us to live in a structured environment with functional governmental systems where jobs are created and not lost. She knows that "without competency, nothing can be done," and has a clearly defined process to get us to a place of competency in the wake of such a long history of ineptitude in the current government. Under her leadership, the data from the 2022 Census will be used to create a healthier economy with an infrastructure that builds educational facilities and properly equipped hospitals.
But first, we must align our country with greatness by participating in the 2022 National Population and Housing Census. We are not living in normal times, and it takes a strong, impactful, and present leader that understands that we are all a part of our government. President Weah has a history of not being present and he and his team have also excluded themselves from being enumerated - none of them were present in Libera on Census night!
We have the power to make a change by making sure we are counted and that our voices are heard. Madam Cooper recently warned us that "Liberia is on absolute regression, which means we are moving backward with high speed because those in government have no idea, agenda, and plan as to how to operate and manage this country and its governance."
This is our time, Liberia. Let us rise in unison and count ourselves into progress and opportunity! We can look forward to a brighter future as Madam MacDella Cooper prepares to take the office of President in 2023 and deliver tangible results. As we push towards the change Madam Cooper will bring, let's be counted. Let's be hear