Minister Idris Umar’s habitual lateness to official functions
The 2011 World Maritime Day celebration was scheduled to hold at 10am that fateful day, Tuesday 27th September, 2011 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, but it did not start until about 3pm.
Several dignitaries, including chief executives of various government agencies and their retinue of aides arrived the venue in good time. The State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru, had also come in but had to leave after waiting in vain for a while. Yours sincerely also waited (im)patiently.
Our Chief Host and Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, had kept us all – his loyal subjects - waiting. He kept us waiting for five hours and, wait a minute, …eventually failed to show up!
The story then was that he missed his 9am flight and the next available flight was 11am. And we waited and waited.
The organisers of the event quickly hired a comedian who turned the otherwise serious business gathering to a comedy show.
At about 3pm, a representative of the Minister sauntered into the hall apologising on his behalf. It was the Director of Maritime Service, Alhaji Nagogo.
In June 2012, Nigeria hosted the 35th Council Meeting/11th Round Table of the Ports Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) in Lagos. It was an international event by all standards and Minister Umar was scheduled to perform the opening ceremony on 25th June, 2012 at 10am.
The magnificent hosting put up by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was almost marred by the Transport Minister’s habitual lateness as he failed to show up in good time at that Opening Ceremony. Our Minister kept the international maritime community waiting for over two hours just to come and declare the event open. Eventually, it was Alhaji Suleiman Nagogo, again, to the rescue.
Last Friday, the Minister was scheduled to perform the flag-off ceremony of the evacuation of containers from the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa by rail. The event was scheduled to kick-off at 10.30am. Again, Minister Umar kept everyone of us waiting. Three hours later, the Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, arrived and was announced as representative of the Minister. So the ceremony commenced.
I am also aware of several instances where journalists were asked to meet the Honourable Minister in some place for either a briefing or facility tour and the journalists were kept waiting for hours.
I have a lot of respect for the Minister but this is unbecoming of his high office.
Will the Honourable Minister be happy if he arrives at the venue of an official function and the guests keep him waiting for hours before showing up? What would his reaction be if any of the chief executives under his Ministry arrived an event three hours after him and behind schedule?
The implication of keeping such senior government officials and businessmen and women waiting for hours on end is better imagined.
I know that Nigerians - especially those in government - are notorious for their lateness.
The concept of Nigerian time - a jargon that describes an average Nigerian’s lack of respect for time, has gradually become a monster, assuming a life of its own.
It is common knowledge that majority of Nigerians do not see anything wrong in turning up late at events. Many regard such repulsive attitude as “one of those things.”
It seems that corruption is not the only Nigerian, lateness is also a Nigerian and by extension, an African.
So disturbing is this trend that we, as Nigerians, must act quickly to rid ourselves of this cloak of tardiness that has blanketed us as a people from time immemorial. Nigerian Time has been the source of many embarrassing moments for this country. It has become the butt of many jokes.
One question for the Minister; does he go late to the Federal Executive Council meeting?