Public Holidays As An Economic Indicator – Josh Journal
Lagosians know how true this is. Those who have visited Lagos don’t need any explanation before agreeing. It is like Lagos is set up to kill you. And kill your corpse for double jeopardy.
And that is only describing a Wednesday afternoon.
Let us not talk about a Monday morning or a Friday evening. That is Lagos on steroids.
Interestingly, we are talking about post-Fashola cleaned up Lagos. You needed to have witnessed pre-Fashola Oshodi. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, kindly ask your neighbor who has lived longer in Lagos. That era is one that is now reserved for fables.
The number of people I have met who have personally experienced, or seen someone experience a panic attack after visiting a Lagos market or bus stop, I have lost count.
As for those of us who grew up, go through, and still believe this Lagos daily living is normal, we are in need of therapy.
With all of this information in mind, I hope you now understand why the good (and bad) people of Lagos love public holidays.
If you have been waking up by 3 or 4 AM to prepare for a job that resumes by 8 or 9 AM, you would appreciate every break you can find too.
When that same job closes between 4 and 6 PM, but you don’t get home until 11 and 12 midnight, all public holidays feel like a mini-vacation to you.
Until a couple of years ago, the eve of every public holiday was usually filled with extravehicular activities. The roads get crowded to the nth degree.
Whatever premonition you already have about Lagos traffic, multiply it by ten and preempt it to start four hours earlier. That is how we kick off our public holidays.
If the holiday adds to a weekend, either before or after, you can multiply its intensity by four and add a couple of hours to the traffic.
The working class seizes the opportunity to get their shopping done, so they can lock themselves up in their house and remember what sleep used to feel like.
Sadly, the last couple of years have witnessed a watering down of Lagosians response to public holidays.
Thanks to burgeoning financial hardship, the working class is struggling with how they enjoy their breaks.
Some go home but cut their spending. Others stay back at the office or wherever they stay during the workweek, as a means to reduce expenses.
The mini-vacation and rest that public holidays use to offer are now too much of a luxury.
Family lives and romance is feeling the effect. Children no longer get an extra day or two to spend with Mummy and Daddy.
And when the parents do come home, they are busy looking for extra businesses they can quickly execute to make a little income.
The worse hit of the loss of the “public holiday economy” are the petty traders.
Ask the woman selling peppers, fish, rice, and oil about the difference in income during public holidays this year and five years ago. She will promptly paint a picture of the economic downturn.
Whatever the CBN, ministry of finance, and ministry of trade and commerce might be telling us, the markets say otherwise.
Irrespective of what our GDP, CPI, PPI, CCS, and CES might say, the Public Holidays Spending is a more reliable economic indicator that every Nigerian can understand. And experience periodically.
Right now, this indicator is telling us that our economy is in the reds.
Every market that used to be half empty during public holidays is just as it was the day before. Small and Medium Size companies are refusing to go on breaks because they need the income from that day to guarantee that month’s salary.
Sole proprietors and entrepreneurs are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. They literally can’t take a day off.
All we can hope for is a turnaround. The economy might not be in a recession, but our pockets never recovered from the last one.
I hope we put all of these in mind before accepting the words of politicians and parties, line, hook, and sinker during the next election.
No one will need to tell us our country is out of the recession or prospering. The market men and women will testify when they see public holiday spending go back and surpass what it use to be.