I join all Nigerian Workers and Workers across the globe in celebrating this historic Day. May Day as it is popularly called was first celebrated on the 1st of May 1889, when an International Federation of Socialist Groups and Trade Unions designated May 1 as Workers’ Day. The significance of May Day is the commemoration of the achievements of the labour movement. It is a day set aside in over 80 countries across the world to celebrate workers for their labour of service.
In Nigeria, May Day was first observed and declared as a public holiday by the then Kano State Government, led by Late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, as Governor of Kano State under People’s Redemption Party (PRP). It was later endorsed by the Alhaji Sheu Shagari led Federal Government as a national holiday on May 1, 1981.
The tradition is that in the event that May Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be celebrated on the first Monday in the month of May as is the case this year, 2021. Hence, the reason Nigerian government have designated Monday, 3rd of May as a National Holiday in Nigeria. The consequence of this is that May 1st is observed as official May Day, while the celebration of May Day takes place on Monday, 3rd of May.
As I celebrate May Day with Nigerian Workers and indeed workers across the world, it is important that Nigerian Governments both at Federal and State levels be reminded that workers are the engine room and indeed the sustenance of every government. Nigerian Workers, be it in public or private sector, must be fairly treated by their employers. Workers should earn decent and living wages. Working environment in most government establishments and educational institutions in Nigeria can be very horrendous. Government must prioritize the welfare of workers and create decent working environment.
Mounting podiums to address and eulogize workers on May Day is not the only way to appreciate the workers, more importantly, creating a good working environment and paying decent salaries will have greater effect on the mental attitude of workers towards their jobs and responsibilities. My message to Nigerian workers is that they should be conscientious in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities and avoid dereliction of duties.
It is profound that I use this opportunity to call on the Nigerian government particularly the State Governors to please urgently rise above their egos by immediately implementing full financial autonomy for the Judiciary. Our courts cannot continue to be shut indefinitely. This certainly has grave social and economic effects on all sectors. The ongoing JUSUN strike is critical and justified, therefore, while I stand in solidarity with the striking Judiciary staff, the strike must be quickly brought to an end, through the implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary across Nigeria.
Happy Workers’ Day!
God Bless Nigerian Workers.
God Bless Nigeria.
Adesina Adegbite FICMC
(Past National Welfare Secretary, NBA)