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Is the proposed Constitution Review a waste of time?

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The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, stated last week that the constitutional review process embarked upon by the National Assembly is a “waste of time,” adding that fundamental changes are needed in Nigeria, including the power of states to enforce laws.

The Governor added, “What we are fighting for, is central to the development of this country. States should be able to enforce the laws in their states. People ask me about Yoruba Presidency and I say what we need now is not that but restructuring. I am not saying it is a magic bullet.”

The Senate public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution last week, has already seen the Lagos State Governor, Jide Sanwo-Olu request a special economic status for Lagos, State Police, and the entrenchment of true fiscal federalism in Nigeria.

The House of Reps also revealed that that the zonal public hearing in the geopolitical zones on the review has been fixed for June 1st to 3rd. Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase said, “We have an opportunity to write our names in gold, let us not waste this golden opportunity as all eyes are on us.”

Is the review process a waste of time?

Chima Nnaji, a legal practitioner and political commentator, in a Saturday evening interview, told Nairametrics, that the review process might as well be nothing but a mere tactic to buy time for the administration.

“It a total waste of time, designed to buy time for the maintenance of the status quo, the review would achieve absolutely nothing, except helping those benefitting from the present order to buy time,” he said.

“It is a fraudulent exercise because it lacks legitimacy, which has not been confirmed by the people in whom sovereignty lies,” Nnaji added.

He revealed that it should be the benefit of every Nigerian, that a new constitution be developed, where the 68 items in the exclusive list are delisted as it will address the interest of everybody on an equalitarian basis.

“If Justice is denied equity is impossible, and where both are not operating, there would be agitations, and only a matter of time before the agitations reach the street. The youth do not have the patience of their grandparents and parents which did not yield any dividend. They want it now and the earlier those holding Nigeria down realize this, the better for them, otherwise themselves, will have no system to enjoy, and the new order will flush them out,” he warned.

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Areas in the constitution that should be reworked

When asked about the possibility of amending sections of the constitution as a stopgap measure until a new constitution is drafted, Nnaji stated that if the lawmakers are sincere, it could indeed be done but only as a temporary panacea as the more permanent solution would be drawing up an entirely new constitution based on justice, equity and true federalism. He further suggested that the present geopolitical zones could be made into separate federating units.

“There needs to be a situation where respected representatives of ethnic groups come together to draft a constitution that will reflect the interest of the country. It is doable, all you need is to use the 6 geo-political zones as federating units on an equalitarian basis.

There has to be a rejigging of the system in a radical way, and the best way of doing that is getting a new constitution that is equitable, based on the foundations of justice and equality,” he reiterated.

Should the review process be ditched?

Although he stated his reservations about the outcome of the review being positive, Nnaji encouraged the National Assembly to tackle the assignment with courage saying that the present government is currently faced with an opportunity to write its name in gold in Nigeria’s history. Moreover, the process had been budgeted for and it is only logical that it should be steered to a fruitful conclusion.

He warned that Nigeria needs to work hard and fast to bring in a new constitution, to achieve higher levels of fiscal federalism and resource control, and noted that this would force states to become more productive. Although the initial stages would be tough, there is no easier way to bring a lasting solution to the myriad of problems facing the nation.

“If we must go ahead with constitution review due to budgetary obligations, it has to be a very short schedule, the ultimate aim is to get a brand new constitution through a national conference, it has been done in the Benin Republic, it can be done alongside a present government, which also gives Buhari the opportunity to rewrite his name in Gold,” he added.

Timeframe for the review process

“The amendment can take place within the next 2 months if they are serious and there are key areas that need urgent attention. There is no need for new states, we have to manage with what we have until we have a new constitution based on equalitarian principles. In the application of federalism, the southwest is the same as the southeast and other geopolitical regions. Creating states would then be the business of each region.

If the administration would go ahead with the wishes of ordinary Nigerians, the nation can have a new constitution by December 2021,” he stated.

Why this matters

The clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria has grown louder in recent years stemming from the heightened economic hardship and insecurity in the country. There is no better time for the government to begin to address the people’s demands as the growing dissatisfaction particularly among the youth may as well end up becoming the nation’s undoing.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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