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Opinions of Sunday, 27 December 2009

Columnist: GNA

Will Ghanaians embrace President Mills' punctuality?

A GNA Feature by Benjamin Mensah
Accra, Dec. 24, GNA - In the year 2000, a veteran journalist cautioned his junior colleagues who would be covering the activities of one of the then presidential candidates to be time conscious, because the man is habitually punctual.
Some of the juniors laughed it off. They explained it had been the habit of politicians to take journalists for granted.
To the junior journalists, most politicians never respect time. They cited an instance of another candidate at the time who scheduled an assignment - a rally and launch of his party's manifesto - for 1000 hours within the city of Accra.
However, the candidate, who was the leader of that party, turned up at 1400 hours, dressed as if he was going to buy vegetables at the Makola Market for his wife to prepare their week-end soup. If all politicians would behave like this, then why should the journalists worry their heads over time consciousness and punctuality?
Earlier in 1998, some journalists had heard from sources close to Professor John Evans Atta Mills, who was then the Vice President of Ghana, how time conscious he was.
In an interaction with Mr. Gabriel Amstrong Bonsu, a resident of Nungua, in Accra in 2007, Mr. Bonsu told GNA about the par excellence punctuality of the Professor, now President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in- Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.
During the campaign launch of his party's manifesto in 2008, the man arrived just on time, and on voting day, he was scheduled to vote at 1000. He arrived just a few minutes after 1000 to cast his vote. He is human, but the belief is that his lateness on that day was unusual.
A close associate testified to the orderliness of the President. When asked if one could conduct affairs in a business as usual manner with President Mills, the associate remarked: "then you don't know the man you are working with".
People close to the President have testified to his promptness during the campaign prior to the 2008 elections.
"We wondered if we could work with him. The man loves order, and works with time. During the campaign when we are given time to start a journey, Prof. would be ready before most of us, even if it meant waking up at 2 am. "His attitude to time has helped us all to be time conscious to our work," a worker at the Mills Campaign Office, at Osu Kuku Hill, in Accra remarked.
It is no wonder that President Mills on Monday launched in Accra a campaign for time consciousness.
The Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported: "President John Evans Atta Mills on Monday launched a national crusade for time consciousness and punctuality, stressing discipline as the basis for national prosperity. "President Mills launched the crusade when he was interacting with school children drawn from the regions across the country on the occasion of the Head of State's Annual interaction with school children.
". In a symbolic gesture, President Mills presented a wrist watch, spectacles and a hamper to each of the 300 school children during the interaction with him, and government officials at the Osu Castle Garden. "The President underscored discipline as an underpinning virtue for national progress and urged the school children to use the wrist watches to 'keep to time, be punctual, and stand for the truth and integrity'". "He told them: 'you are ambassadors in your regions, you must act as people who are time conscious.'"
Children are not the only people who are to be time conscious. Time-consciousness is a must for all if Ghana really wants to be a Middle Income Nation in the very near future.
"Time and tide wait for no man" and "procrastination is a thief of time."
The price for unnecessary delays in running of individual, corporate and Government business is incalculable, and even claimed lives. Have we been dazed or cursed to deliberately disregard time?
Oh no, the explanation of traffic jams, lost or misplaced files, water problems, this problem or that problem with a host of other excuses for lateness must stop.
Consider the number of man-hours that would be lost if about 100 people were late for one hour each. Hundred hours, an equivalent of more than four days and yet they are to be paid for no work done. It is good that some Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives have embraced the campaign against lateness.
Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the Eastern Regional Minister, decided to discipline some Municipal and District Chief Executives in the region, who reported late for a public function.
However, the erring MDCEs rendered an apology to the Minister, and went further to demonstrate their remorse by reporting promptly to another meeting the following day.
Early in the year, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Kofi Opoku-Manu, threatened to sanction District Chief Executives who turn up late for meetings.
This was after he had waited for more than an hour for the DCEs to show up for a meeting.
He said the attitude of the DCEs and other public officers to time management was getting poorer, for which he believed there was no justification.
President John Evans Atta Mills is known to stick to time, and hardly turns up late for occasions.
The President promptly turned up for the opening session of the Ghana Investment Forum in July, 2009, and the latecomers were locked out and refused entry into the venue.
The President used the incident to express his displeasure at the late start of the programme and appealed to Ghanaians to respect regularity, timeliness, honesty and transparency.
The President's Christmas gift of wrist watches and the campaign against lateness, coupled with the his well-known punctuality should be a wake-up call for time consciousness.
The Good Book says there is time for everything. Delays are dangerous and retard prosperity. Advance preparation, careful planning and proper time management without taking things for granted are the surest ways to mend broken social and economic progress. No further delays. Now is the time to act with promptitude. 24 Dec. 09