As busy professionals, we sometimes long for those rare moments when we get to take a few days away from work to relax and unwind. What bails us out during those times are public holidays.
Over the years, Nigerians have been one group of people with great love for public holidays. So, at different times of the year, they wait in anticipation and joy for the government to declare work-free days.
But did you public holidays come with a cost?
Here are a few findings you should know:
- Nigeria lost at least N9.74 billion in 2016 as a result of multiple public holidays observed during the year. Investigations revealed that in 2016 alone, about 15 national public holidays were observed, excluding others declared in some states.
- Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for the fourth quarter (Q4 2016) showed that 81,151, 885 workers spent 37.38 million hours during the period to contribute N29.29 trillion to the economy at an average productivity rate of N783.51.
- Using the same estimates, with the expectation that workers spend an average of eight hours of productivity daily, 15 days of public holidays at N783.51 productivity value, means N9.74 billion, representing 10 per cent of the budgetary allocation in 19 states in 2016 when assessed on individual basis, was lost to the idle periods.
The Federal Government, on account of too many holidays in the year and the attendant economic losses was forced to make a policy during the military regime of General Sani Abacha prohibiting the shifting of holidays that fell on weekends to week days.The policy was put to test when the late Founder/Publisher of The Guardian, Dr. Alex Ibru, was the Minister of Internal Affairs from 1993 to 1995.
However, without repealing the policy either by promulgation or an act of parliament, the country returned to the old practice of shifting weekend holidays to week days, which had cost the nation a staggering N9.74 billion in 2016 alone.
Apart from the holidays observed nationwide, there are other days reserved by some states in the federation to mark specific occasions.
These state-specific holidays include Osun-Osogbo festival in Osun State; Islamic New year in Oyo State; marking of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election in Lagos, Oyo and Osun; coronation of the Olubadan of Ibadan Day holiday; Edo public sector day, oba’s coronation day in Edo State; as well as celebration of Islamic New Year in Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto states, among others.
To address these concerns, members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have urged governments across the states and at the federal level to optimise the use of available human and other resources efficiently for improved productivity.
The Director General, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Olusegun Oshinowo noted that “as a nation we don’t seem to appreciate that time is productivity, productivity is money and productivity is translated to Gross Domestic Products (GDP). The issue of excessive public holidays has to be addressed because holiday that ordinarily should be one day, for no reason that can be cited, government will declare two days.
“As a country, we need to start examining the values behind each public holiday because it reduces the capacity of the country to maximize our potential.”
The Secretary General, Nigeria, International Chamber of Commerce, (ICC), Mrs. Olubunmi Osuntuyi, said: “There is the need to begin to look at our economy from every angle every second, minute, hour and day. We should always not be carried away by the situation at hand, but always do analysis of the loss to public holidays. It is not as if in other countries they don’t go for vacations, but not as many times as we do in Nigeria. The NBS should come up with a report of the losses we run per day of every vacation observed in this country. We need to know the value of each public holiday and how much we can put on it towards boosting the economy.”
Do you think we take too many public holidays in Nigeria?