Time is an essential part of life. When one dies, he or she has no sense or use of time. Our lives are lived in seconds, minutes and hours, culminating in days, weeks, months and years.
Thus, time is important; so important that it features in most management courses and books.
Time management is a key administrative function that gives traction to all the other principles.
In fact, life would be scary if there was no time, timelines or deadlines.
Time helps us all to plan, take stock and virtually live!
For journalists, time is key and one of the questions we strive to find responses to in any communication or publication is when something happened, or when something will happen.
Time helps us whittle down politicians’ propaganda.
Thus, when the cameras are on a politician, and he or she in exuberance and gingered by audience or listener numbers becomes verbose, a simple question as to the timeline for the policy would result in a pause, or a dogged repetition of a propaganda line.
Others would give "soon" as an appropriate excuse.
So on September 9, 2017, when the Minister of Gender and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba, at A Day of Help effort by churches in the metropolis at the Independence Square (where about 18,000 persons with disabilities and the poor were feted, medically screened and given items), announced an "operation get off the streets" initiative to take the poor from the streets, I was elated.
She went on to stress that begging was not a profession and that an audit was to be undertaken of all beggars that would give an idea of their skills and the capacities they needed to place them in gainful employment.
The idea sounded great to me so I asked: "Are there any timelines?"
She told me that within the next two to five years the ministry was going to get all beggars off the street.
When I persisted to know the start date, she responded tersely: "Why is that a problem? I think that that question is irrelevant because it is a process...journalists are always interested in these things, but they don't answer the question."
I managed to chip in, as she carried on about the irrelevance of the question, that it is important for readers, and her response was that she was not going to give any definite start time because it was a process, and she did not want to give anyone false hopes.
Yes, Madam Djaba, “we” journalists like to ask about timelines, but they are not irrelevant questions.
Apart from furnishing readers with that bit of information, it helps in the summary of news in its production.
It is a basic test on how serious the policy effort is to politicians.
Except, perhaps, it was a figment of the imagination that just popped up at the sight of a recorder thrust at you, giving you the idea that that piece of thought would make good sound bites.
I heard a deputy Minister of Education, Dr Y. Osei Adutwum, touting the President's commitment when he was questioned about the funding of the free senior high school on BBC; and at a press conference to announce the start of the National Identification for a second time, the acting Executive Secretary, Prof. Ken Attafuah, when asked about estimates for the exercise, said he did not have it at hand.
Politicians and duty bearers must know that questions on timings and costs are not irrelevant, but important to constituents.