The Adubi War of 1918 and the Revolt of the Egbas were significant events in the history of Nigeria. These events were characterized by the forced labour obligations imposed on the local population by colonial authorities. These practices led to widespread discontent and ultimately resulted in violent uprisings against the British colonial regime. In this article, I explored the lessons that can be learned from these events for employers in Nigeria today.
Lesson 1: Respect for Human Dignity
The forced labour obligations imposed on the local population are a critical factor that made led to the Egbas revolt and eventually led to the Adubi War. These forced labour obligations violated the basic human right of dignity. Employers must recognize that their workers are human beings with inherent worth and dignity. Employers must, therefore, treat their employees with respect and ensure that their fundamental human rights are protected. Employers should refrain from practices such as forced labour, which undermine the dignity of their workers.
Lesson 2: Fair Remuneration and Working Conditions
The revolt of the Egbas was also fuelled by the unfair remuneration and working conditions imposed on the local population. Employers in Nigeria today must ensure that their workers are remunerated fairly and provided with decent working conditions. This includes providing adequate compensation, safe working environments, and opportunities for professional growth and development.
Lesson 3: Employee Engagement and Participation
Another factor that led to the revolt of the Egbas which also fanned the ember of the war is that the local population were excluded from decision-making processes that directly affected their lives. Employers must recognize that employee engagement and participation are crucial for maintaining a positive work environment and achieving organizational goals. Employers should involve their employees in decision-making processes and encourage open communication to foster a sense of ownership and engagement among workers. Additionally, employers must always carry out employees’ pulse surveys regularly.
Lesson 4: Respect for Cultural Diversity
Similarly, another factor that led to the revolt and eventually the 1918 Adubi war was the colonial authorities’ disregard for the cultural diversity of the local population. Employers in Nigeria today must recognize and respect the diversity of their workforce. This includes acknowledging and valuing different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. Employers should ensure that their policies and practices are inclusive and promote cultural sensitivity and diversity.
Lesson 5: Ethical and Transparent Practices
The colonial authorities’ unethical and non-transparent practices, such as exploiting natural resources without proper compensation or consultation with the local population is another factor that led to the revolt and eventually the war. Employers in Nigeria today must prioritize ethical and transparent practices in their operations. This includes upholding high ethical standards in all aspects of their business and ensuring transparency in their decision-making processes. Employers should also strive to build trust with their employees by demonstrating honesty, fairness, and accountability. By doing so, employers can foster a culture of trust and integrity, which is essential for building a sustainable and responsible business.
Conclusively, the Revolt of the Egbas which led to the Adubi War of 1918 serve as reminders of the importance of respecting human dignity, fair remuneration and working conditions, employee engagement and participation, and respect for cultural diversity in the workplace. Employers in Nigeria today must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that they create a positive work environment that fosters employee well-being, engagement, and productivity. By doing so, employers can create a more inclusive and sustainable workplace that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.
Dr. Rasheed Azeez writes from Lagos