BuhariWatch: Our president is procrastinating again
Oh yes, this is a time to lament the procrastination, half measures, soothing and baffling expedients, and delays that have characterised the Buhari presidency. It is a time to tell our leader that the nation will not accept the spirit of procrastination to take control of his life and presidency again. We need to repeat the Churchillian line to our leader that having been sworn in for a second term, we have indeed entered ‘a period of consequences’, yes, consequences of his actions and inactions as I once noted here.
And here is the thing, President Buhari’s men should note that the people will be impatient this time. No one is going to wait for even three months this time for the machinery of government to be in place. There should be no room for excuses for delay this time. The government was sworn in almost 25 days ago. Up and until this day, only two agency appointments have been retouched: the NNPC GMD’s and Accountant General of the Federation’s (AGF). There have been publications to the effect that the office of the president has not said a word about the fate of the presidential bureaucracy officials since May 29. It is also getting too late to submit a list of ministerial nominees (and their portfolios this time) too.
We need to tell the authorities in Abuja that there should be a sense of urgency in Abuja at this time because there have been too many inconclusive and pending issues that require some urgency. Curiously, the president advised the governors to prioritise some of the issues the other day. Some of the issues, which require some urgency include security, federal character, education, critical infrastructure, civil service reform, (which will tackle corruption), etc.
This is not a time for the ruling party’s officials to be fighting enemies in the market place. Elections are over and it is time for sleepless nights about serious governance issues to move Nigeria to a good level beyond meretricious ratings by dubious international organisations and award-giving local media organs. Nigeria needs to advance beyond the level a 2014 rebasing of the economy took us. Specifically, it is a time to pay attention to education and the economy beyond mere declaration of emergency on them.
The big men in agbada and babariga in Abuja should realise that the office of the citizen is already impatient with the reproach of near absence of concrete progress in the country. They need to know that massive unemployment and lack of economic progress generally in the country can touch off unexpected crisis that can trigger emergence of people power as we are still witnessing in Algeria and Sudan. This is Africa, a rising continent of anything is possible. There is unexpected insecurity. There is too much poverty and extreme hunger all over the place. They may not be paying attention to risk analysts who keep warning about consequences of displacing farmers from their farms at this time. The implications will be more devastating next year. The big men in Abuja need to wake up from their slumber, complacency and procrastination and note that they don’t need to spend so much time on positions and power sharing almost a month into a second term. This is a time to share knowledge on strategy to reduce poverty and attendant hunger. They need to spend more time on strategy to deal with insecurity all over the country. But sadly, they are procrastinating again. They shrug their shoulders and dismiss the enormousness of the challenges before them. They think Nigerians are clueless about what to do with their leaders. And so they procrastinate about thinking through state policies that can avert a looming socio-economic crisis.
The president and all our 37 state governors and Federal Capital Territory Minister/Governor need to note that this is a time to avoid weekend enjoyment as the king’s critical assignment now requires some urgency for Nigeria’s survival. This time requires discipline of execution of projects and policies on weekends. This is one lesson I saw with Malam Nasir el-Rufai as FCT Minister (2003-2007). One of the critical success factors that people did not notice about Hurricane el-Rufai in Abuja in those days was his unusual work schedule: the petit minister was always working on Saturday and Sunday too. That was how he fixed the broken Abuja – according to the mandate the then president Olusegun Obasanjo gave him. All the meetings I had with him and his team members were on weekends in his Area Eleven office. That was how he managed his sense of urgency in those days when he had a responsibility to make some difference in Abuja. That too has become a reference point in FCT administration.
When did this limiter called procrastination creep into our discussion points here? As I had noted here on March 5, 2017 when I advised the Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu not to allow the procrastination spirit to hit Akure too, procrastination isn’t a friendly spirit.
It is a debilitating spirit that has brought down powerful and endowed individuals and even empires. I have been a procrastinator. I know enough about this treacherous and ruthless spirit and destiny destroyer called procrastination. It is one of the little foxes that have spoilt many vines.
It will be recalled as noted before that the demon (procrastination) was in Abuja in the first six months of this administration, manipulating Kings and Princes who could not forge a cabinet for six months in the name of head hunting the brightest and the best for the federal cabinet. And unfortunately, all the detectives, spiritual and temporal, have been sleeping on duty. That evil spirit was so successful in Abuja that March 2017 marked the first anniversary of the death of Pastor James Ocholi, SAN, first minister of state, Labour and Productivity Ministry. He died on March 6, 2016, and by March 5, 2017 when I commented on the demon, he had not been replaced, no thanks to procrastination spectre.
The invisible and invincible bogeyman, (procrastination) has been so operationally efficient in Abuja that most of the boards of the federal agencies and enterprises were not constituted almost three years into the first four-year term of Buhari. At a time, there were too many “actors” in the federal public service. There was an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (ACJN) from October 2016 – till December 2017. His name was submitted by an Acting President on the last day his acting capacity was to become problematic. There are more: even the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC) Ibrahim Mangu has been acting in that capacity since Wednesday November 11, 2015. He is still acting in June, 2019. There were so many others. The first tenure of former Chairman of the very important Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Mr. Elias Mbam ended in November 2015 and the Commission remained under an Acting Chairman, Shattima Umar Abba-Gana until 2018. In the same vein, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, (FRC), the Export-Import Bank, Federal Mortgage Bank, Bank of Industry, the Petroleum Products Pricing regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Agency for Food & Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), NDE, etc were under the acting chief executives for almost two years. There were more critical vacancies including boards of directors of many corporations. That affected corporate governance and efficiency of many agencies of government from 2016-2018. NSITF’s noisy board was constituted only last month.
Besides, the procrastination ill-wind then affected even the Nigeria’s diplomatic status. The heads of foreign missions were recalled or dismissed from their beats in July 2015. Government did not appointed replacement for so many of them until 2017 and 2018.
Procrastination, according to an expert on the challenge, is a problem that should not be trifled with. According to Susan J. Letham, a British researcher and creative writer, procrastinators delay until the day after tomorrow what they know they should have done the day before yesterday.
What does procrastination look like? We all put off working on unpleasant or tedious tasks from time to time. Washing the car, taking out garbage, cleaning windows, or making stressful phone calls are no one’s idea of a fun way to spend time. But where most of us do this only occasionally, procrastinators do it most of the time, and that’s where the problems start. It is a stress factor.
According to Letham, procrastination is a behaviour that leads to stress, because it makes plans and wishes fail at what should be the point of fulfillment: theatre tickets and vacation packages sell out before procrastinators get around to calling. Planes take off, deadlines pass, jobs go to other applicants—the ones who got their resumes in on time. Procrastination threatens happiness.
Though procrastination is often trivialized, procrastinators suffer when their careers crash or when they otherwise fail to reach their potential. Long term and wide scale, “the big P” can become more than just a threat to personal health, happiness, and productivity of individuals: it can carry that threat into our companies, communities and nations.
As Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago says: “It’s not about time management. To tell a chronic procrastinator to ‘Just Do It’ is like telling a clinically depressed person to cheer up.” We need to look at the kind of procrastination people practice to understand the reason they do it and find the appropriate cure. It is given here that procrastinators are also neurotically disorganized in their thinking, making them forgetful and less likely to plan well.
The decisional procrastination strategy is to put off making a decision when dealing with conflicts or choices. People who practice high-level decisional procrastination tend to be afraid of errors and are likely to be perfectionists. These procrastinators seek out more and more information about alternatives before attempting to make a decision, if they make one at all.
Over-informed decisional procrastinators run the danger of falling prey to a further self-sabotage strategy, called optional paralysis: they create so many choices for themselves that they feel unable to choose, for fear of choosing an option that is less than perfect. That is why our president should deliver himself from his decisional procrastination before it is too late.
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