How to Cure Sleeping Bug [editorial]

For about three years now, the biggest news of the state-of-the-nation address and the budget speech, that follows shortly thereafter, is not about the speeches themselves but the sleepy behaviour of many public officials as seen on television, in newspapers and the internet. It has become so predictable and comical that on the morning of this year’s state-of-the-nation address, someone posted a challenge on Facebook, asking ‘friends’ to guess which officials were likely to be caught napping. It is a shame that many of our public officials can’t stay awake for three hours.

Their level of concentration and focus is that poor, which leaves us wondering how they can possibly act differently within the confines of their offices. Sadly, the ‘state of our nation’, as the napping spectacle is described in some media outlets, reflects our society’s laissez-faire approach to duty, more so in the public sector. Thus in Parliament, MPs will walk in and out anytime during sessions, leaving seats empty and very often no quorum to conduct serious business, despite some 380 lawmakers claiming their pay every month.

During wasteful workshops and seminars, officials come in late and spend a lot of time working their phones and ipads before leaving early, with their allowances fully paid. In fact, the main reason the state-of-the-nation address and national budget speech are well-attended is because the president is always present.

Now we are also wondering whether it makes sense to continue having such ceremonies, which public officials seem to attend for their (events) own sake. The state-of-the-nation address can be delivered on radio, just as the president’s new year address. This would save the state some resources, and also the embarrassment of its officials publically sleeping on the job.

The national budget speech too can be delivered via radio and television, and copies sent to newspapers, in addition to the ministry of Finance uploading it on its website as it has often done.

With such options open, dignitaries don’t have to assemble at the hired Kampala Serena International Conference Centre only to waste three hours chewing gum or hiding behind dark shades to disguise their napping modes.

Source : The Observer

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