fbpx

Time issues, who will tell the President?

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
 Time lost cannot be replaced
Time lost cannot be replaced

Mr President, I know you are a busy man.

You have a pile of files on your desk waiting for attention.

You also have many policy issues to deal with, but this issue is important too.

I remember that when you delivered your maiden State of the Nation Address to Parliament on February 21, 2017, you were emphatic that the wind of change had come.

You said change would be all-encompassing and would sweep through all aspects of our national life.

In it all, you sought to speak the message of hope to Ghanaians.

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

You called on all citizens to change with the political transformation that had come.

It was an inspiring address.

One of the things that stood out for me was your firm declaration that you were ready to wage war on lateness to work among Ghanaians, particularly, public officials.

In making that pledge, you said lateness to work and social events had become a canker which had eaten deep into the country’s culture.

You gave a powerful punch line when you stated that the “Ghana-Man-Time” mantra had no place under your watch.

To borrow your words, you said: “All three arms of government must change the way they do things.

State functions start and close late.

We must be punctual and I intend to set a personal example.”

Compliance

Mr President, observing you from afar, I realised that you have kept the vow to be punctual to functions religiously.

You get to functions in time. I salute you for this.

A few of your appointees have also paid serious heed to your call.

The ministers of Business Development, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal; Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah; Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah; and a couple of others can be singled out in this direction.

However, all is not well because many of your appointees, public office holders and state institutions still live in their own world.

They have little regard for your call to punctuality.

In my daily routine as a journalist, I have had the opportunity to attend many events in which some of your appointees and state institutions put on their own watches and show up at programmes when they wish.

Specifics

On November 23, 2018, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mrs Elizabeth Naa Tsotso Sackey, made some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) in the Greater Accra Region recite the national pledge for reporting late to a workshop.

It was a workshop on the implementation of the government’s Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (CPESDP).

The event was scheduled for 8.30 a.m. at the GNAT Hall, but many of the participants, including MMDCEs, presiding members and some technocrats from the 26 district assemblies in the Greater Accra Region reported late.

As of 9.30 a.m., only 51 of the 200 participants had reported for the workshop. At about 10 a.m. when the workshop was called to order, a greater number of the invitees were still not present.

Dissatisfied with the situation, the deputy minister asked for a roll call of the officials representing all the 26 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to be able to identify those who had still not arrived.

The latecomers were made to recite the national pledge to symbolise that they had changed and would be time conscious.

On February 15, 2019, the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), Mr Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, arrived three hours late to a ceremony organised in the area to hand over sanitation facilities to public basic schools in the metropolis. It was supposed to start at 9 a.m.

Chiefs and other opinion leaders arrived at the event on time but it was not until noon that the MCE showed up, much to the displeasure of everyone.

Again, on April 24, this year, the Minister of Works and Housing had to address journalists at the conference room of the Ministry of Information on issues related to the ministry.

It was precisely on the controversial Sagleme Affordable Housing project.

Notice was served that the press conference would take place at 9.30 a.m but journalists waited until 10.48 a.m before the minister and his team arrived.

These are just a few of the public officials who sit on the accused bench for lateness.

Action

Mr President, in all of the instances in which your appointees reported late to functions, they kept singing the same song: “I am sorry for the late start of the programme; I was attending to something equally important.”

These excuses are not only flimsy but also a retrogressive tendency that should no longer be accommodated, especially among public office holders, who must be accountable to the people.

If the saying that time is money is anything to go by, then this concept of “African time” must be discouraged.

Mr President, because I know that you have many things such as the One village, One dam, One district, One factory (1D1F) and Ghana beyond Aid to think about, I would stop here.
But, time is of the essence if all of these would be achieved.

As I bring this letter to a close, permit me to humbly ask these questions: “Is it possible to deploy technology to monitor the punctuality of public officials?

Is it possible that you will start sanctioning public officials who are perpetual latecomers to functions?

“Is it possible to hire me to give you a list of time killers so we can name and shame them?”