There has been criticisms over the number of holidays held in Nigeria, by members of the Nigeria’s Organised Private Sector, OPS, who warned that the country’s propensity for long holidays at every opportunity harming Nigeria’s economy and businesses.
Some of these business leaders allied to the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, among others, told correspondents that businesses are being slowed down and losing billions of naira as a result.
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According to OPS members, the losses suffered from prolonged public holidays are made even worse by infrastructure deficiencies, manpower shortfalls and intermittent strikes among others.
This is as the tottering Nigerian economy remains shutdown for an additional day today, following the extra one-day holiday announced by the Federal Government in addition to Tuesday and Wednesday, earlier declared as public holidays to mark the end of the Ramadan fast, with stakeholders pointing to severe implications.
The Extra holiday which compels players in the economy to continue to shut down their businesses today, having only Friday (tomorrow), before closing down again for the weekend, is tantamount to losses in billions of naira, going by the size of the Nigerian economy which is put at $510 billion from the 2014 rebating of the country’s GDP.
Olusegun Oshinowo, director-general of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), says lengthy holidays jeopardises cash flow, which is important for business to meet its obligations to all its stakeholders.
“This does not portray us as a serious-minded nation which appreciates the value of time and productivity. We seem to be either insensitive or unaware of the linkage between productive use of time and welfare of our citizens. Our economy still has a huge chunk of actors in the informal economy, who depend on daily income to earn a living.
“Public holidays deprive them the opportunity for that income and hence, quality life. For the formal economy, it affects productivity and sales, thereby imperiling cash flow, which is important for business to meet its obligations to all its stakeholders.
“It is time we have a roster or schedule of public holidays for the country, which should be as minimal as possible, and should not be subject to the vagaries of religious expediency.”
A source within one of the chambers of commerce and industry, craving anonymity, describes lengthy holidays as disruptive to the economy.
“People have business plans, seminars and meetings, all of which must be cancelled because of holidays that were not envisaged. I must however say that I can understand the government’s sensitivity to the issue leading to the extra holiday, but as much as possible, we should avoid hurting the economy.
“When banks are shut down, it has very serious implications on all other sectors of the economy.”
As a whole, Nigeria observes about eleven national holidays spread over 16 working days, asides weekends. These include: New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Workers Day, Democracy Day, Eid-el-fitri Sallah, Id el Kabir, Independence Day, Id el Moulud, Christmas and Boxing Day.
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The OPS Stakeholders observe that apart from these national holidays, many of the nation’s 36 states arbitrarily declare holidays, further undermining the economy.
In their conclusion, they stated that with the whole nation enjoying a three days holiday, Nigeria has only shown that it does not appreciate the value of time and productivity.