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Friday, December 9, 2022

Time, the game changer

By Bayo Fasunwon

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Time is one of the commodities in life that does not discriminate on the basis of race, wealth, age or position. Each individual, nation and continent has access to the same numbers of hours per day. However, the way and manner time is respected and invested is one of the determinants of the development or otherwise of people, communities and nations. The Nigeria music industry has tried to re-orientate Nigerians to the salient nature of time, by teaching that “time na money”. Even the Holy Bible teaches that there is time for everything under the Sun. However, the government and people of Nigeria seemed unconcerned about the sanctity of time in the nation’s quest for development. One of the reasons for Nigeria’s stagnation, and backward movements is the disdain for timeliness.
It is no longer news that the Kankara boys have been retrieved from the cages of the Boko Haram sect. While we are quick to celebrate their prompt release, we need to interrogate the circumstances that worked for these boys but did not achieve same for the Chibok girls. When the Chibok girls were abducted, rather than shifting into prompt actions, there were arguments and counter arguments about whether the event took place or not. The military and Presidency were speaking English, while the insurgents successfully moved the girls into an area beyond the reach of government, and even divided them into groups within and outside the country. In the case of the Kankara boys, within few hours, meetings have been held, precise location known, and surrounded. Time was the deciding factor. If government has relaxed as they did with the Chibok girls, the chants of ‘bring back our boys’ would have become a global anthem. Rescue is time bound.
As at now, government and peoples of Nigeria ought to have known the importance of timing to issues of internal security. Intelligence garnered on well trained terrorist organisations are fluid, therefore when government slacks on the intelligence given, such would have become useless in a few days. Rescue from fire, robbery and terrorist attacks have been hampered by wasting time. The Benue killings would have been averted if only the Federal government had responded on time to the clarion calls of the State government. The various buildings and markets that have been incinerated could also have been averted if the various fire stations have taken cognizance of the fact that rescues are time bound. Many a Nigerian has complained that the Police do not respond on time to the calls for help when under attack. In fact, though laughable, they normally arrive several minutes after the agents of destruction have departed to enjoy their booties.
Often times, the bureaucracy is blamed for the incidence of time wastages in government establishments. The various protocols and procedures inhibit the speed that certain urgent situations demand. Thus vital projects, contracts and activities are abandoned due to red tapes. In developing countries, and private organisations, the bureaucratic steps are usually reduced in order to beat time, and achieve productivity. The existence of mobile phones, Whatsapp, Telegram, and recently Zoom have created avenues that could minimize bottlenecks. What the Nigeria government needs are reforms in the Civil Service that would incorporate these new innovations into the protocols of the service, and thus save time. This would also enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria, thus attracting foreign direct investments through foreign investors.
However, the banks seem to inhibit the flow of transactions in recent times. One observes that interbank transfers do not receive prompt alerts to the recipient. Sometimes one needs s to go to the bank or ATMs to confirm such transfers. There the time wasting begins. Under the guise of COVID 19 pandemic, entering banks has become as difficult as seeking the kingdom of God. Much time is wasted standing at the Bank’s entrance. When one eventually gains entrance, it is another round of time wasting. The ATMs were supposed to reduce the traffic in the traffic halls, but their inefficiency does not help matters. These cash dispensers are supposed to run for twenty four hours, but it has now become a common sight to get to the machines as at eight in the morning, and there is no cash in the machines. On investigation, this is not because the cash had been withdrawn by customers, but had not been loaded with cash. Added to this is the fact that many of these machines, either due to lack of maintenance or their low qualities, do not function at all. So, we see crowds gathering at the machines, wasting precious times. Aside from the fact that the nation loses man hour, and resources, overcrowding in banks also poses security risks.
The insensitivity of government and workers to time has birthed the death of many on the Nigeria roads. Many a times, potholes on the road that could have been timely filled is left until it causes multiple accidents. It is also a common sight on dual carriage ways that FERMA or States’ road maintenance agencies would cut portions of the roads, leaving sharp edges, and square valleys on the roads for several months unattended to. In the bid of trying to effect repairs, lack of respect to time inadvertently lead to the loss of lives due to accidents. Many a time, these square gaps have also aided armed robbers and kidnappers in their dastard trades, as they act as traps and stoppers for vehicles which could have ordinarily escaped on a smoother road. Did I hear someone say that these holes also assist the Police in collecting illegal toll duties? The sad reality is that the lives and properties lost to the time wasted in repair of these roads are never regained.
The Federal Government and ASUU have been at loggerheads for a long while. In fact their imbroglio has become a yearly event. In this present strike, the academic labour union had embarked on its strike as far back as March this year. The Federal Government did not deem it fit to engage in negotiations until later in the year. This foot dragging had ensured that the ivory towers remain shut till now. Even when the strike is eventually suspended, government would also waste time in implementing the agreements reached, leading to another round of industrial disharmony. Unfortunately, after this national strikes, one expects another round of strikes in State owned institutions. In a sane society, States ought to be involved in the current negotiations, and do the needful with the agreements, without giving room for disruption of academic activities, but would they? Now, Nigeria loses many of her students to inferior but more expensive educational institutions outside the country. So revenues that could have been used to develop the informal sector, and also add to the nation’s GDP are lost to insensitivity to the indispensability of time. Also, one would not be surprised that many academics would have dumped this nation when the strike is over. So, Nigeria loses her financial and human resources to other time conscious nations. How then do we develop?
Fellow Nigerians, delay is very dangerous.

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