Before procrastination spirit hits Akure too
There are indeed so many burning topical issues to discuss about our great country at the moment. And there are so many questions to ask our leaders and king makers, especially about the peace “that passeth all understanding” in the presidency despite the mystery of fantastically extended president’s medical vacation in U.K. And here is the thing: but for the questions that would have arisen why one should be asking such questions at such a time like this when there are so many unasked questions, one would have asked a reporter’s natural question about when the medical condition of the president actually began. But a senior colleague just issued a caveat to me that I should either reserve the question till 2019 or ask the clairvoyant governor of Ekiti State who seems to be able to look into the seed of time and somehow say something about tomorrow. I won’t ask any questions now even if I receive any telephone calls from the land of our former colonial masters.
But the task this week is daunting: getting the new government in Ondo state to get cracking and hit the ground running. There are fears in some quarters that the most debilitating spirit that has brought down powerful and endowed individuals and even empires – PROCRASTINATION – has relocated from Abuja through Osogbo to Akure, the capital of Ondo state. I know enough about this treacherous and ruthless spirit and destiny destroyer called procrastination. I learnt from my old Student Companion that “procrastination is a thief of time”. I didn’t understand the implications of this saying until recently. I am an incurable procrastinator. So, I can counsel people, managers and leaders about this demon, one of the little foxes that have spoilt many vines. It will be recalled that the demon 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. I am sure the culprit then was this evil spirit called procrastination. And unfortunately, all the detectives, spiritual and temporal, have been sleeping on duty. That is why this month marks the first anniversary of the death of Pastor James Ocholi, SAN, minister of state, Labour. He died since March 6, last year and has not been replaced despite the pool of political talent in Kogi state, 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 have not been constituted almost two years into the four-year term. What is more, there have been too many “actors” in the federal public service. Apart from the Acting President, until late last week, there had been an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (ACJN) since October last year. There has never been an “actor” in that office in our recent history. 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. There are so many others. Since the first tenure of former Chairman of the very important Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission () Mr Elias Mbam ended in November 2015, the Commission has remained under an Acting Chairman, Shattima Umar Abba-Gana. In the same vein, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, (FRC) Chairmanship has been in the acting mode since December 2013 when a Deputy Director of the Commission, Victor Muruako was appointed Acting Chairman. He has been acting for more than three years. Nigeria Export-Import Bank has been under the acting managing director, Mr Bashir M. Wali since Dr Robert Orya was removed on February 15, 2016.
Federal Mortgage Bank too that has been without a board has been in the same hibernation mode since the sack of Mr. Gimba Ya’u Kumo in 2016. Mr. Richard John Esin has been acting as Managing Director/Chief Executive. Bank of Industry (BOI) too has not been spared as Mr. Waheed Olagunju has been acting as Managing Director/CEO of the bank since Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa was sacked by the President in February, 2016. The case of the Petroleum Products Pricing regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has been complicated as the current Acting Executive Secretary, Mr Victor Shidok, General Manager, Operations actually replaced an outsider, Mrs Sotonye Iyoyo who was also acting. The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has also been part of the affliction of acting mode. Since February 16, 2016, Dr Victor Onome Akpotaire, a director in the Bureau has been acting as Director-General. The very influential National Agency for Food & Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) too has not fared better as Mrs. Yetunde Oni has been acting since the exit of the Dr. Paul B. Orhii in February, 2016. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) too has been under the Acting Director-General, Mr. Kunle Obayan since December 1, 2015. There are others too numerous to mention including the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) where Mrs. Mariel Omoh is acting after the person who was made to act after Mrs. Sally Mbanefo was removed in 2016 too was made to step aside.
What is worse, the procrastination ill-wind has blown even the Nigeria’s diplomatic status no good. Since the heads of foreign missions were recalled or dismissed from their beats since July 2015, the government has not appointed replacement. This protracted procrastination has left embassies, high commissions and consulates without heads even as diplomatic activities have suffered some reverses. Not even the “Grade A” Missions, especially the P5 countries, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China have been spared of this reproachful procrastination. The career ambassadors the Senate has since cleared have not been posted. There are so many boards of agencies that have not been constituted. These are a few examples of how the resident spirit in Abuja called procrastination has paralysed operations of the convoluted federal government.
In the same vein, a recent report in Abuja Inquirer indicates that about 90 per cent of FCT management staffs are in acting capacity too. This is a federal bureaucracy that used to compete with Lagos in terms of operational efficiency and dynamic capabilities.
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. Procrastinators have traits and let’s trace some: Procrastinators avoid revealing information about their abilities, they make poor time estimates, they tend to focus on the past and do not act on their intentions. They may also prefer service jobs. These characteristics are linked to low self-esteem, perfectionism, non-competitiveness, self-deception, self-control, self-confidence, depression and anxiety. Experts say there are no easy “buck up” answers to the affliction.
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.
In the main, that is why the new Governor of Ondo State, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu who (at press time) had not named key officers of the administration including the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Of Staff, and Chief Press Secretary almost two weeks after he was sworn in, should not take any anointing from Abuja and Osun State. This is the third year into Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s second term of four years and there is still no executive council of the state. There is no leaf to borrow from that procrastination centre. Nor is there any need to look up to the hills in Abuja where there can be no inspiration for efficiency. And so while consideration for thoroughness is expedient in the choice of his team members, Chief Akeredolu should not allow the spirit of procrastination that has paralysed operations in Abuja to afflict him at all. He should hit the ground running. After all, his predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko too was afflicted by the spectre of procrastination that made him to be awarding contracts (in his last week in office) to complete projects his predecessor left eight years ago.
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