Monday, April 10, 2006

Enforced holiday

A holiday has emerged today out of nowhere - a muslim one (the moon says when). I wonder how many public holidays there are in Nigeria. When there's a muslim festival, everyone bunks off. When there's a christian festival, ditto. On top of seven days off from the census, it all seems a bit excessive.


tobs 11:37 am  

The clue is to work for/with an Indian company that negotiates with the unions how many public holidays you can get per year, when we work and when we play. I am in my office today, doing paper work - there are no suppliers that can visit and few people pick up their phones (those who do have kids playing around in the background - makes me feel guilty). At least we know next weekend is off.

Akin 11:45 am  

You have it easy in Nigeria, even though we have Christian holidays like Ascension day and Pentecost we have at a maximum 7 public holidays in the Netherlands.

Worse still, Good Friday is not usually a holiday in the Netherlands.

After from the fact that if a major holiday falls in the weekend, that is where it falls; in other countries it is moved into a weekday.

As for being poly-adgerents of religious holidays, my extended family is a mix of Christians and Muslims - it is of kindred importance than religious holidays do not depend on the individual's religion.

Well, that would be a work-shy excuse.

j 12:40 pm  
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j 12:42 pm  

"...Have fun go mad...That's what tobs will say!

st antagonym,  12:44 pm  

am not envious of you Nigerians, but it must be said "such laziness" will not get you past the 1920's

Mrs. Priscilla Prefix-Suffix,  12:52 pm  
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tobs 12:52 pm  
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tobs 12:57 pm  

Who are you referring to J? Living in Nigeria is fun if you make it fun, but I would never call it easy. And I would have it much easier if I went back to where I came from - that would be boring. Humour has always been used to tell the truth in difficult situations. Why do I have to be serious when I can be funny?

j 1:32 pm  
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st antagonym,  1:33 pm  
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Vixen 6:58 pm  

Ok J, I can't believe you are complaining on getting days off of work. You must REALLY love your job!

I love all the holidays. It's like every single month there's a reason to get off work and play. Plus census is only done like once every decade so it's not that bad!

And that's why Nigerians don't get that much done....we love to play too much!

Miss pesky' apostrophe,  8:01 pm  

As opposed to peak time on the UK underground, 9ja is just so natural and can be equated to paradise where there is no hurry to grow up. I love 9ja, and everything naija!

St Antonym 12:07 am  

People in the "civilized" West work too hard. This is what they call development? There's a proper place for rest and leisure, not the daily grind followed by a collapse in front of their television sets that passes for life around here.

I think Nigeria has a good number of days off. Now, if only we could get people to put in a full day's work on the days when they *are* at work, we'd be getting somewhere...

Akin 6:45 am  

I think you need to separate the West (Europe) from the West (America) in this matter.

For one, in Europe, we do have reasonable leave allowances usually at least 20 days and we get away - really go on holiday.

When I was in Nigeria, I noticed that people had leave but were exhausted when they returned to work, not having gone on holiday but taken up some other back-breaking activity.

I remember the late Tai Solarin saying of Nigerians, "They who don't know how to work don't know how to play"

OK! Nigerians are good party-goers and hedonists in general, but do they know how to relax and cut away from all the hustle and bustle of life and work?

I mean how many have toured the whole of Nigeria or visited neighbouring countries on vacation and not business for instance?

Then America, where productivity is supposed to be so high and people are overworked and barely get 2 weeks leave.

That confuses me, one would think high productivity would mean more freedom for leisure and the good things of life - well, not if you are an employee in America.

They say our productivity is Europe a lot lower than that of America, well, we'll rather have a life and go to work, than have work and no life.

I think we have the balance right in Europe, on average a 35 to 40-hour week but not as many holidays as Italy.

Jeremy 10:05 am  

good posts Akin and Antonym. My bug bear is not so much the number of holidays, but the unpredictability. It makes planning so tricky. The seven days off for the census buggered my project about no end. Then there was several critical reasons why I wanted everyone to be at work yesterday. It also buggered thousands of others about - events got cancelled, money was lost. Its a mystery why Mohammed's birthday celebration was announced at the last minute.

I like a relaxed but dedicated approach to work, but Antonym has it exactly right - its difficult to get Nigerians to work when they are at work. Productivity is generally very low. People seem to see work more as a social opportunity than a getting things done opportunity.

Anonymous,  12:36 pm  

I work in a firm where the assumption is not to observe public holidays unless you are told to. Worked in the office till 7 p.m. yesterday, partly due to my fault as you can leave earlier than usual on such days and you are allowed to dress down. However, I had scheduled a meeting with my unit members for 5 p.m. Monday and was oblivious of the fact that it had been declared a holiday. Anyway, it was work as usual. Much as I criticize unnecessary public holidays in Nigeria, you have to understand that it has some political undertones, what with all the Muslim/Christian tension. Question is: "Which holidays are you going to scrap?" Believe me, that's not an easy question to answer in Nigeria. And really, we are still doing better than some (though not an excuse, I agree!). I stayed in Mozambique for about 4 months and we had like 10 public holidays! I kid you not. We had Maputo Day, e.t.c..... And as far as I was concerned, every Friday (sexta-feira) is a public holiday in Mozambique. Everything shuts down by 12 noon! People just go off to have a swell time at the beach and wherever. And it's generally called "dias de l'hommes" - day of the men. Just a day for men to be MEN! I wonder where we get the figures about Mozambique's economy growing at 7% or so. Anyway, my point is this: I think we do need to cut down on public holidays but I also think we need to balance economic priorities with social necessities.

Mrs. Prescilla Comma,  2:04 pm  

in a nutshell I agree with your point: "...the need to balance economic priorities with social necessities..."

But would they understand this. Those bloody educated illeterates in power.


Mrs. Prescilla Comma,  2:06 pm  

Point of correction: illiterates*

St Antonym 4:03 pm  

Akin, you're right. There's a big difference between Europe and the United States in terms of vacation time. Americans are just stupid about it. They work too damn hard (and, I might add, they think too damn little). The difference is cultural: Americans find their self-worth in their pay stubs. Where your Germans and Dutch get on bicycles and head out to the countryside or the urban park for a picnic and some frisbee, Americans head to the mall, buy more crap they don't need, and go home to collapse their over-stuffed bodies into their over-stuffed sofas. Not a pretty picture, but it's the truth.

What Europe and America do have in common is a certain efficiency. Part of this can simply be called "industrialization": the drive to find the fastest, cheapest and best way of accomplishing tasks. Henry Ford's legacy.

For cultural reasons that are not yet completely clear to me, Nigerians lack this instinct. There should be a series of large factories and industrial sheds lining the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, not churches as they have now. There should be a train, or a convoy of buses, that takes people from a central spot (say, Ikeja Bus Stop, or Ojota) to a large factory complex on the outside of the city, where they don their uniforms, and contribute to the world's capital wealth. We should have massive car assemblies in Nigeria, shirt making shops, pre-fabricated furniture, electronics firms. It's a disgrace that countries like Thailand and Taiwan are wealthier than we are. Not simply in per capita terms, but in absolute terms. It's a disgrace! The Apapa ports should be humming twenty-four seven.

But awon eniyan wa are not keen on working. Or rather, lots of people do want to work, but the structures are not in place to make the hard work worth their while.

So, I suppose, ultimately, public holidays are not the issue. The fundamental organizational stucture of the society (the product of our culture and our history) is frustrating the widespread desire for a greatly expanded middle-class.

red toyota corona found in okokomaiko,  4:43 pm  

St Antonym, I agree entirely absolutely with your analysis of the variations between 9ja, the Americas (particularly the USA) and Europe (especially the west, uk, france, germany, etc). However, let us look at this from a different perspective, Nigeria, for one has not got the kind of weather we can easily find in England during the long winter. So it can be said that their cultures and atmospheric conditions are generic only as far as the West goes. I would want to believe that this weather and its consequences has a direct effect on the mind set and performance of people in these regions. People need to prepare for the winters else they die a death. Imagine being homeless during the winter - sleeping on the streets in chelsea. This kind of thought would instill fear in any sane human. No need to give further examples.

Nothwithstanding, it must be said that, st antagonym's ideas appear very prophetic, appealing and tempting and may well be the only choice open to us to kick start the revolution.

However, unfortunatley, I would disagree with your conclusions. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not an anti-progressive. Its just that I dont want this to be a call for the second slavery, where we have the majority of our people working for the rest of the world.
Still, the most valid point on here, is that raised by mr anonymous where he/she warned us of the need " balance economic priorities with social necessities..." Now, I dont think we have identified what these priorities are, or our social necessities. Perhaps we should proceed along those lines.

Thanks a lot Mr st antonym.

tobs 4:59 pm  

This is the truth about Nigeria; there is no certainty, little stability, no long term views/culture, work is seen as social (my driver comes to work when he has a day off to meet his friends and hang out) and the need for effieciency has no meaning as there is no tomorrow and little discipline and structure in the culture and the people (just look at the trafic).

Would it really be better if Nigeria was run efficiently with hundreds of industries and regulated work hours and public holidays? And is it really possible to change the culture?

Anonymous,  5:44 pm  

I agree with much of what has been said here and many thanks to mrs. prescilla and red toyota for appreciating my point on view. In as much as I commend st. antonym's ideals with regards to what should be, I still maintain that we need to strike a balance between economics and the innate need for some form of rest and social cohesion. How that can be achieved in a society as diverse as Nigeria eludes me for now, but it is definitely not impossible.

the flying monkeys 6:16 pm  

MASSIVE car assemblies, shirt making shops, pre-fabricated furniture, electronics firms, electronic trains etc all in Nigeria! Sounds good good good but there is a need to be careful here: what about the "externalities"? The spillover effects of producing these or consumption for which no payment will be made? We dont want this negatives!
Lets take the most relevant/current example - the telephony industry. For example all telephone users, do they gain as new users become connected? If yes, then positive. Again, these large production units, have we considered the environmental damage caused by the existing installations in the west. Smoke from factories! If yes, then negative.

I think the question is would our people really want or need or desire quality products and would they want or need or desire the ability to pay for such products, considering the fact that we do not operate a welfare system. When the workers take ill, or are injured, have we got an effective health system? What about the unemployed, would they be able to afford these products? Equally, do we have reliable banking institutions? I know in the developed world, the focus is on the less developed areas. In these countries, the banking institutions give loans for regional development.

This is not to say that I would not want to see the country grow by increasing its output. It would be great to see changes in our real GDP, in our output of goods and services.

But who would manage these organisations and how would such managers be able to manage to reduce in the long run unit costs which arise from an increase in production? Will the larger who are able to to buy in bulk, organise production more efficiently, and raise capital cheaper and more efficiently, be able to lower their unit costs?

My god, like mr anonymous said, in a society as diverse as Nigeria, it eludes me for now, but it is definitely not impossible.

Anonymous,  6:37 pm  

Good piece, obokun close. Hmm... why does everyone think 'anonymous' is a 'mr'? It's 'miss anonymous' (ha, ha!), but seriously, we need to brainstorm more on getting our priorities straightened out in Ngeria. We'll keep wracking our brains. BUT, who will implement them?

Akin 8:50 pm  


I have a substantial reply to Miss Anonymous, so I posted it in my blog.

As for trackbacks/backlinks, I have to be a member of Blogger to use your trackbacks - that is just not on.

It is supposed to be an open blog standard not a feature attraction.

My comments - Just too many days of holiday in Nigeria


St Antonym 9:37 pm  

Ogbeni Ogundipe,

The question is not "what are the negatives of becoming an industrialised country," it is "what are the negatives of remaining an unindustrialised one."

The smoke stacks and manangement issues are small potatoes compared to the very real fact that Nigeria is POOR, and Nigeria is poor because Nigeria is not productive. Yes, corruption, yes, over-reliance on oil. But, first and foremost, our country is NOT productive. That's the issue here.

And what are the negatives of the current poverty? Ask anyone who works in Apapa and lives in Isheri. Ask anyone who has ever carried her sick father to an emergency room at 11pm. Ask anyone who has insufficient water supply. In short, ask anyone who lives and attempts to make a living in Nigeria.

If we enter production on a large scale (imagine Ijebu Ode becoming the worldwide center for the production of silk ties), the issue is obviously not about who will buy the stuff in Nigeria. It will be for exports. That's the only way for a country to survive these days. And forget your groundnut exports, your palmoil. That's kids stuff. We're talking steel, we're talking consumer goods that are ready to go on the shelf at Walmart or Harrods or Spar.

It's an ugly world, and we have to play our role in it. So that, when it's our turn to go into a hospital at a bad hour, the facilities will be there, the ambulance will be there, the roads will be good., etc

Akin 10:26 pm  

St. Antonym,

You hit on the fundamentals there, but then when you veer towards steel and oil, I remember Ajaokuta and the steel explosion of the 80s - if that had come of age, it might have been acquired by Mittal Steel. Alas!

Compare that to how Ghana's gold industry is a world-beater, having been run by young Ghanaian who has come of age - Sam Jonah.

Then you see ridiculous decisions like siting the largest oil refinery in Africa in Kaduna where you cannot get a spoon of oil.

I am not sure Nigeria has the means to develop and compete as an industrial power, however, I think in terms of brains and know-how we are suited for a services-led industry.

Even that requires basic infrastructure of electricity, roads and telecommunications if we are to go far in IT services, logistics or research.

Moreover, I am not sure Nigerians would want to buy ties made in Ijebu-Ode no matter how good the quality. Where is the "esho" (showing off) in that?

The CEO of Lever Brothers in Nigerian once said it was cheaper to import palm produce from Malaysia than source it in Nigeria.

When I was involved in the desktop publishing of the Nigerian Supreme Court Cases, we knew what it would look like from here, but the whole thing was printed in Singapore.

It is time for the government to apportion adequate resources to providing the means for our educated manpower to build the knowledge infrastructure of Nigeria as a product to market to Africa and beyond.

We once had Nigerians as senior ministers in governments of other African countries - however, if we cannot find 11 men to send to the World Cup, we have a long way to go.

the flying monkeys 11:07 pm  

Ogbeni St antonym. We are saying the same thing. You think the question is not "what are the negatives of becoming an industrialised country," that it is "what are the negatives of remaining an unindustrialised one."

We are saying the same thing. Read it properly. Think of an "autoantonym"/"antagonym".

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