How we sometimes shortchange ourselves with public holidays – Gist

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Today, Monday, August 21, 2017, is a work free day in Kogi state.

The reason why people are staying at home is to celebrate the return of President Buhari after his 103-day state in the United Kingdom for health reasons.

This might be funny to you but Nigerian leaders love dropping public holidays like it’s hot. In Cross River state it is normal for the state to shut down for the month of December.


Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello



There are roughly 9 public holidays in Nigeria, from Christmas to Id El Kabir, not bad for a multi-ethnic state. Our holidays are mostly religious, Easter, Christmas, Id El Kabir and Eid-El Fitri. May Day, Democracy Day and Independence Day are more of national holidays. New Year’s Day falls somewhere in the middle. It is based on the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory XIII.


Secular nations and the world have come to adopt this calendar and it is regarded as the default calendar of the world. So New Year’s Day is more than a Christian holiday.

We all love holidays but apart from politicians declaring dodgy work free days, the Nigerian government has a habit of shifting these holidays if they fall on a weekend.

If a national public holiday falls on a weekend, you can bet your last kobo that the holiday (sometimes 2 days) would be moved to the next week- Monday and Tuesday. It happens all the time. No Nigerian government has ever allowed a public holiday to be on a weekend naturally. It is moved to the new week.

ALSO READ: Declaring a public holiday because of Buhari is irresponsible

I guess it is an unwritten rule in our corridors of power that holidays should only be on weekdays and not weekends. Maybe the Heavens would fall if Independence Day is celebrated on a Saturday or Democracy Day on a Sunday.

I suspect that Nigerians would be very angry if the Federal Government fails to declare a certain public holiday on a weekend. Nigerians love to have fun and when you take it away from them you are in trouble. It is easier to increase the price of fuel in Nigeria than let a weekend holiday be. You dare not.

People crowd a street at the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos ahead of Christmas on December 23,

People crowd a street at the central business district in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos ahead of Christmas on December 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)


This wouldn’t really be a bad thing if the productivity of the nation’s workforce was high. Forget Lagos and a couple of other states that have very active private sectors. Most states in Nigeria can only boast of the civil service as its only productive work force.

When these public holidays are dragged over to the weekend, virtually all the states in the country are shut down. These states were hardly adding anything of significance to the nation. From being a little productive they become unproductive on weekend transplanted public holidays.


It’s just a case of holidays for a nation that does not create anything. The Kogi state government should be criticized for declaring a public holiday today but he just did what the Federal Government has been doing for decades.

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