David Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist who formally established the academic discipline- and is commonly cited as the principal architect- of modern social science once said “While it is almost certain that time punctuality will affect economic forces such as efficiency and productivity, it may also be socially important, as one of the factors that unites a modern society, a society, when compared to tribal society, composed essentially of strangers, together”. Thus, time is cardinal to economic and social activities that bring diverse peoples, ideas and resources together.
In his speech at the maiden edition of the TAMS Summit in 2016, the creator of TAMS, a time management-focused human resources management solution, Afolabi Abiodun (nicknamed Nigeria’s timekeeper), observed that “For the past three decades, various Nigerian governments have touted Vision 2020 to take us to the Promised Land of prosperity and development. Four years to expected delivery date, we are yet to scratch the surface of this laudable target. Why? In my honest opinion, the real culprit is a lack of commitment to doing things in a timely manner although it is easy to blame political will and socio-economic factors.”
Wikipedia states that “Time is of the essence” is a term used in contract law to express “the need for timely completion” indicating that one or more parties to the agreement must perform by the time to which the parties have agreed, especially if a delay will cause material harm. It is used in the United States, England and Commonwealth countries including Nigeria. A key lesson from this is that any serious entity, be it a nation, organisation or even individual that desires success and sustainable development must pay attention to timeliness. A common attribute of successful individuals, organizations and countries is the setting of clear timelines for their goals and objectives and following through to the last detail.
In Africa, and Nigeria in particular, time does not appear to be of the essence as government at all levels ‘while away’ productive time that is paid for by the labours of taxpayers. Negligent and indifferent to its value and consequences, millions of billable hours are lost daily and human capital rendered ineffectual because energies are not directed towards productive outputs.
While our leaders, past and present, tout support for the fight to eradicate the ‘ghost worker’ syndrome and laxity in the public workforce, they themselves have been found wanting, as recently published by an online news portal, Premium Times, on the disposition of Nigerian senators to timeliness. Source
Premium Times conducted a three-week investigation at the National Assembly in Abuja and discovered the unfortunate scenario where the Senate, Nigeria’s upper legislative arm, starts plenary about one hour later than resumption time. What this means is that little or no time is committed to deliberations and debates on matters that affect almost 200 million people. The investigation also revealed that even though most arrive late to the chamber, it takes the Chief Whip several more minutes to get them started. The reasons for this situation include principal officers arriving late for plenary, other Senators strolling in as if going for a cocktail and failure to maintain decorum. It is quite shocking and unfortunate for a potentially prosperous country like Nigeria, because a nursery school teacher would not- and does not- have such luxury of time to get three year old kids ready for class.
Further investigation revealed that apart from the whopping undisclosed amount that Senators receive as salaries and allowances, citizens are indirectly robbed of legislative time for important debates, consideration and passage of bills. It is quite an injustice therefore, that regardless of such abuse of time and the ethics of work, Senators receive full pay. Wouldn’t it be fair to move the motion that our legislators, governors, judges, civil servants and executives be paid for the quantity and quality of work done?