One Holiday Too Many! | Independent Newspapers Limited
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One Holiday Too Many!

1st October
Posted: Oct 3, 2016 at 6:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

October 1 is celebrated as the national holiday of Nigeria.

Recall that on October 1,1960, the country gained her independence from over a century of British imperial domination. The birth of the new nation, which was heralded with the Green-White-Green Flag in the historic October night, symbolised the aspirations of Nigerians who had looked forward with great hope of a brighter future to the end of British colonial rule. At independence,the country was expected to play a leading role not only in Africa but also in the world. Indeed, the expectation of the international community was that Nigeria would be a future political and economic power and a rallying point for the Black race.

However, 56 years after, not a few Nigerians are of the view that our dream of a great nation remains a dream deferred, and for this reason, October 1 should not give cause for a celebration. Indeed, Nigerians have expressed in many public fora their disappointment with the state of the nation, believing that it has been 56 years of nightmare. While the present condition of the country seems to validate this thinking, October 1 remains Nigeria’s Independence Day, a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from our colonial masters. Like other countries of the world, the occasion also presents a time to reflect on our journey to nationhood, and re-think for better days ahead.

Our point of reflection today is the value we place on man-hours as a people and as a nation. Specifically, October 1, 2016, the day marking the 56th anniversary of our independence, fell on a Saturday. And rather than celebrate the day on the Saturday it fell on, and allow Nigerians to move on with their lives and their work, another day, a brand new day, Monday, October 3, 2016, was declared a public holiday, for the sole and same purpose of celebrating this national holiday.

We think that at a time like this, a time the nation is preaching the gospel of change, and a time the country is reeling in the throes of an economic recession, the Federal Government needs to see an holiday falling on a day that is normally work-free as an opportunity to break the wasteful cycle of converting business days to non-working days. It needs not be said that time-off is time without production. This, clearly, is a luxury that a struggling economy, like Nigeria’s, cannot afford. By extending the holiday from Saturday to Monday, the Federal Government has unwittingly cut the week by one day.

Only recently, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry  (ACCI), lamenting on the adverse effect of unplanned holidays on business productivity and the economy, noted: “The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria was worth $481.07 billion in 2015 from an all-time high of $568.51 billion in 2014.” It is estimated that the effect of one public holiday costs Nigeria more than $1.88 billion. And this negative trend impacts both the small and medium enterprises and larger businesses, as well as public sector institutions, as all of them lose production days which, cumulatively, result in a low National Gross Domestic Production.

In fact, it is believed that the country already has too many holidays. Indeed, for this year, the country is expected to celebrate 29 public holidays. Our fetish for holidays runs counter to the trend in developed economies. According to research by Von Essen, a leading provider of advisory service to international contractors, the “UK now has the lowest number of national holidays of all major economies (G20 group of leading economies) with just eight public holidays, compared to an average of 12 across the G20 economies. The United States Government provides 10 federal public holidays, and allows private employers to decide which days their employees can stay off work. Portugal has recently taken the drastic decision to suspend four of its 14 public holidays, in a bid to increase productivity and send a message to the world, that the country is open and ready for business.

To say Nigeria is wasting its productive workforce by declaring too many holidays is to say the obvious. Time is both a human and national asset, and should be used wisely, and not wasted. We will be deceiving ourselves as a people if we continue to hope that we will make real progress while we fritter our working hours in the name of public holidays. If our new-found mantra of change must take root and grow, we must change in more ways than one. If we continue our old ways and expect new results, we will be acting insanely, like Albert Einstein cautioned.

Going forward, the Federal Government should let Nigerians celebrate their holidays on the days they fall. We dare say that declaring today, Monday, October 3, 2016, as holiday, for an anniversary that fell squarely on Saturday, October 1, 2016, is one holiday too many!