ISSUES/POLICY: Not Only The Dead Are Casualties

ISSUES/POLICY: Not Only The Dead Are Casualties
  • PublishedMay 8, 2021

By Olowogboyega Oyebade

Are you aware that in Nigeria, May Day as a public holiday was first declared by Governor Abubakar Rimi of the People Redemption Party (PRP) government of Kano State in 1980, a party under the chairmanship of Malam Aminu Kano and it became a national holiday on 1st May, 1981 under the Presidency of Hassan Sumonu-led NLC? Do you know that this international holiday is observed on May 1st to commemorate the achievements of the labour movement over unfair labour practices, a day that is marked as a public holiday in over 80 countries?

Do you know that the first May Day celebration took place on 1st May, 1890 after its proclamation by the first International Congress of Socialist Parties in Europe on 14th July, 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate May 1st every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity”?

Do you know that the date was chosen due to unusual events in Labour Relations which took place in the United States of America? What were these events? Come along!

Are you aware that in 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labour Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come to effect on 1st May, 1886? Do you know that the employers saw this accomplishment as a threat to higher profits, a metaphor to a dagger pointed to the protruded belly of a pregnant woman at the third trimester?

And what happened? Do you know that to back up their resolute demand, the workers organized and embarked on a general strike? To celebrate the temporary relief the mood of the strike afforded the over-stressed workers and the camaraderie of comradeship the events demanded, do you know that the workers sign-posted the strike with a street procession at the Haymarket in Chicago?

Expectedly, can you believe that the employers unchained their thugs in police uniforms to disperse the genuine workers’ procession? And what happened? Do you know that was how the workers’ riot of 1886 began? And what next? Do you know that the employers’ association officially proscribed the eight-hour workday, the eight-hour workday you now enjoy today as civil and public servants?

Do you know that the official proscription of the demand for eight-hour workday was not allowed to go unchallenged by the workers? What did they do? Do you know that different workers’ associations were showing their displeasures in various forms in 1887, 1888, 1889 and 1890 just to impeach all obstacles against the eight-hour workday? And what happened?

Can you believe that at a protest rally on 4th of May, 1890, one over-zealous but innocuous worker threw a petrol bomb at the police as they tried to disperse the crowds, resulting in the deaths of several police officers and some civilians? And what next? Do you know that the leaders of the workers, including those ones not even at the rally, were arrested?

Do you know that they were tried and sentenced to die by hanging? Do you know that some of them were eventually sentenced to the gallow and hanged? Only for us to enjoy what we enjoy today? Do you know that though, the eight-hour workday was not fully adopted across America until the 20th century, the events in Chicago inspired similar protests across Europe, establishing 1st May as the day to recognise the rights of workers across the world?

Do you know that in the 20th century, the holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union, (Russia) and it is also celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, especially in some Communist states? Do you know that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands celebrate Labour Day on different dates a fact that has to do with how the holiday originated in those countries?

Do you know that we need to work and pray for conducive Operational Environment for all workers in the country? What is Operational Environment? You care? Come along!

Do you know that the Operational Environment wants to ensure that we do the right things in the right way with the right groups at the right time? Do you know that Operational Environment may mean different things in military and civil operations?

Do you know that Military Operational Environment stands for political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment and time to prepare for and execute an operation? Are you aware that there are three different environments in this type of Operational Environment: Permissive environments, Hostile environments and Uncertain environment?

Do you know that permissive environment allows another country’s military forces to come in and conduct operations, particularly looking for assistance to combating terrorism or other security threats?

Do you know that hostile environment refers to a place where there is an uprising or an invasion? Do you know that uncertain environment is treated very much like a hostile environment? In all, do you know that there are eight military operational variables which are: political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information, physical environment and time?

We appreciate Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for providing the needed leadership in the State of Osun. Long live!

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