Opinion: The True Cost Of Public Holidays In Nigeria
By Bayo Adeyinka
Last week, a total of 1.469 billion shares worth N17 billion in 21,246 deals were traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Only 126,979,844 shares have been traded this week (Monday, July 4, 2016) so far. The market will be closed for 3 days out of a 5-day working week. That is a significant volume of money that has not exchanged hands.
Lagos State is a $91 billion economy. Lagos accounts for about 53% of the manufacturing employment in Nigeria and the manufacturing sector constitutes about 30% of the GDP of Lagos State. That economy is shut down for 3 days. That is one state out of 36.
If you had taken a loan from a bank to run your business, that means you will pay interest for days not worked. For instance, if you took a loan of N100 million at an average rate of 25% as obtains in the industry right now, you will pay N205,479 as interest over the 3-day public holiday. You are already paying for weekends – Saturdays and Sundays that you’re traditionally not open for business. Meanwhile, your business is shut down on those days. Unfortunately, you have salaries and wages to pay and you cannot discount the days not worked.
If you’re a transporter, you have less people to carry and God help you if your bus is on ‘hire purchase’. Anyone in the informal economy who has to survive on daily wages will agonize throughout the public holidays. That includes the person who sells food at commercial centres and around public offices. That includes the artisans and the small shop owners.
The major markets are shut down. Oke-Arin is the largest fast moving consumer goods market in the South West – and maybe Nigeria. For you to know the true value of the market, you have to consider the fact that all Nigerian banks have branches in that market. Agbeni market in Ibadan is shut. That is the second largest FMCG market in the South West. ASPAMDA is shut. ASPAMDA has approximately 50,000 business people. Ladipo auto spares market is the largest of such in Lagos. The same with Alaba International Market and Balogun market. The Computer Village is shut down.
And on a personal note, after my daily cup of coffee, I only eat one meal a day on the average. Today, I’ve eaten two meals and it is not night yet. I can only pity my wife. The more I consume, the less I produce. A consuming nation like ours is often times an unproductive nation.
These are the kind of times when ‘mistakes’ happen between couples. With a population explosion on our hands, holidays can only mean one thing to some people – at least, nature does not condone idleness. If David in scripture had not given himself a holiday when he should be busy at work and at war, he wouldn’t have had time to see Bathsheba from his penthouse. Who knows how many Davids will see Bathshebas during this period of inactivity?
Seriously speaking, there is a need to re-think our holidays. If religious festivities (Christmas, Easter, Eid El Kabir, Eid El Fitri, etc) and other public celebrations (Independence Day, May 29, etc) fall on weekends, there is no need declaring additional days.
Osun State, one of the poorest in the country, even declared a public holiday for traditional worshippers (Isese Day). Is it any wonder that state remains poor?
We must increase our national productivity. That is one of the reasons I don’t agree to church meetings or services when one is supposed to be at work. Poverty does not answer to prayers – it answers to work. And there is a correlation between prosperity and national productivity. The higher the national productivity, the more the prosperity. Nigerians are lazy and it is time to imbibe a better attitude towards work.
We must place a value on time and productivity. A nation in recession cannot afford unnecessary holidays.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.