The seven P’s

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It is axiomatic that “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” We don’t need some great philosopher to tell us that. After all, we have proved it time and again in our daily lives. It is self-evident, especially after a dismal outcome.

Think of those High School exams that we flunked. Think of those Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects that we attempted – those that we began with much hubris and enthusiasm (and some conceit), that we eventually had to abandon in despair and defeat.

Of course, what usually makes it worse for some of us men is that our wives or girlfriends usually never let us forget our ‘shortcoming’ (no pun intended) by snidely remarking, “I told you so!” and “If you had only listened to me and called the professional, blah, blah, blah!” It’s quite irritating, actually! So too our private admission, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda!”

As it is in our own lives, so too in the way that things are being done by this wonderful government with which we are blessed. (Some say cursed!) Everything seems to be a rush job – a hastily-put-together scheme without the requisite behind-the-scenes preparation and planning. Why this is so, is a head-scratcher for many. Some have suggested that it is the result of government by political expediency. Others say that there is the self-serving element. Still, others whisper about cronyism.

And still, others have chalked up the harum-scarum approach to every blessed thing as simply a case of idiocy and incompetence. Needless to say, with every project here in Antigua and Barbuda, speculation runs rife, especially when the bungling and the slipshod results manifest themselves. (See the Friar’s Hill Road).

It has gotten to the point that with every announced project here in our fair state, eyebrows are often raised, and there is the now-obligatory wondering who got what, when, where and why. It is indeed a sad reflection on how far adrift we have gone, and how jaded we have become.

There is a palpable erosion of trust! Interestingly, the cynicism with which every grand announcement is greeted, never mind the skepticism that accompanies the fanciful dates of completion, has caused many in officialdom, even without being asked, to make upfront disclaimers about “No hanky-panky” and “Everything is above board,” and “No opportunity for theft,” and “The United Nations will be disbursing the funds,” and “I am absolutely satisfied that there is nothing in this agreement that should cause concern blah blah blah” and so on and so forth.

How sad! We have come to a fine pass. Of course, whenever those in high places tell you to walk, you should run like hell. Whenever, the high and mighty tell you that you have nothing to fear, you should make the sign of the cross and look to the Almighty. Whenever one of our ruling politicians tells you that he or she knows what he or she is doing (much like many hapless husbands), chances are that they are . . well, ‘novices.’ (To borrow a word from the regime’s lexicon) So here we are – Royalton grand-opening, a disaster. Apparently, not enough planning.

Friar’s Hill Road and Sir George Walter Highway – two disasters of epic proportions – again because of insufficient planning. The Booby Alley relocation seems not to have been carefully pondered. So too the unmitigated disaster in the Barbuda restoration effort. And don’t talk about the new airport onthe sister isle.

The planning there appears to have been spotty at best. The hastemake-waste obsession with opening the fourth landed UWI campus at Five Islands in September, never mind the misgivings and questions on the minds of many, will undoubtedly be … well … you guessed it … a disaster, much like the aforementioned Royalton.

Is this any way to run a country? Especially since the lives of so many, mainly those who can least afford it, are always so negatively affected by the missteps of officialdom? And what about the massive cost overruns and the maddening delays – the results of a disdainful lack of prior proper planning? Consider the concerns of one of our good politicians on the ad hoc approach to governing that is now the hallmark of this administration.

These concerns were articulated prior to the last general elections, and we here at NEWSCO suggest that, notwithstanding that good politician’s recent epiphany, they are still a metaphor for all that ails us. Here goes: “While our students at various schools across Antigua and Barbuda continue to find it difficult to comfortably attend school because of the cramped conditions of the classrooms, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party and their squandermania has wasted millions of dollars to upgrade the Five Islands Secondary School into a university.

This is far from becoming a reality. At present, this facility has been designed to accommodate a secondary school. It would be more efficient and wise to utilize it for the purpose that it was intended, and relieve the pressure on existing secondary schools.

Even though some additional classrooms have been built, the capacity to accommodate the large expansion of students in Antigua and Barbuda is insufficient . . . It is irresponsible and reckless for the Gaston Browne administration to try to rush through the university in Antigua and Barbuda by using the Five Islands Secondary School built under the leadership of the Honorable Dr. Winston Baldwin Spencer and the United Progressive Party at Five Islands.

This is a clear demonstration of his [Browne’s] lack of vision and inability to create sustainable development for Antigua and Barbuda. . .” Sadly, there is no telling this administration. Plan or no plan, there will be a grand opening of a university – any blessed university – at Five Islands this September. Rush, rush, rush! Meanwhile, no plan for the serious refurbishment of the Antigua State College.

No plan for a reliable delivery of water. No plan for decent roads that will last. No plan for the inhumane and deplorable conditions under which prisoners live and prison officers work. No plan for . . . What a thing! Well, actually, if truth be told, there appears to be a whole lot of planning by many on high to build mansions and ‘use their contacts’ and ‘creatively enrich themselves’ so that they and their children, and their children’s children, will be set for life! And the rest of us? We can watch those plans come to fruition. Or we can take a stand against them!

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