Nigeria is estimated to have lost N9.74 billion to multiple holidays over the course of 2016. According to a report by the Guardian, about 15 national public holidays were observed, excluding holidays declared in some states.
The Cost of having a break
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 and contributed N29.29 trillion to the economy at an average productivity rate of N783.51.
Adopting these estimates, the study based its assumptions on the expectation that workers spend an average of eight hours of productivity daily, 15 days of public holidays at N783.51 productivity value.
According to the findings, this summed up to about N9.74 billion, representing 10 % of the budgetary allocation in 19 states in 2016 when assessed on individual basis, was lost to the idle periods.
As noted in the report, the huge sum of at least N9.74 billion lost to the idle period could serve more productive purpose. For instance, this same amount could deliver a fully equipped teaching hospital to enhance the epileptic tertiary health care system in the country.
Past policies targeted at reducing the holidays
As a step towards minimising the alarming rate of holidays in the year and the attendant economic losses, the Federal Government was forced to make a policy during the military regime of General Sani Abacha prohibiting the shifting of holidays the 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, the country was reported to have returned to the initial practice of shifting weekend holidays to week days.
Occurrence of State-specific holidays
Also, it is noted that there is the frequent occurrence of state-specific holidays when some states in the federation mark specific occasions.
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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.
Private sectors’ perspectives
As a way of addressing the issue of incessant holiday, members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have called on the government across the states and at the federal level to optimise the use of available human and other resources efficiently for improved productivity.
As reported by the Guardian, the Director General, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Olusegun Oshinowo noted these holidays reduce the capacity of the country to maximize potentials.
According to him, the country needs to decide on the holidays that are necessary and the ones that are not, to be able to grow the economy.
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.
I know that if Nigeria was paying workers per hour, she would have realised the big loss to public holidays, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Bobboi Kaigama said.