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We have no apologies on open grazing, restructuring…

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Nosa Akenzua, Asaba

Delta State helmsman, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, has berated critics of southern governors on the ban on opening grazing of cattle and the call for national dialogue to restructure Nigeria.

These were part of decisions taken when he hosted his 16 colleagues on 11 May, 2021 in Asaba where they also called for state police and devolution of powers from the Federal Government to the second tier.

In an interview with journalists, he affirmed: “We owe no apologies, because we spoke the truth and we thought that the truth we spoke was in the best interest of this nation.”

Okowa expressed surprise that some elements in the Presidency were still advocating the retention of open grazing of cattle.

“Can we truly at this moment be promoting open grazing? Thank God that the President was misrepresented, because I have seen news headlines that the President is not opposed to the ban on open grazing.

“We need to begin to look into what is best for us. Where we were 50 years ago should not be where we should be today and tomorrow.”

He acknowledged that it might not be a one-day affair. He said: “It may not be but the process has to start and there must be a programme that must become evident, a programme in which we will begin to see actions being taken.”

He warned that Nigeria’s growing food insecurity may soon spiral to a tipping point on account of the threat posed by open grazing of cattle.

“Today, a lot of money is being spent by the Central Bank of Nigeria to encourage farmers to ensure that we are food sufficient but a lot of these efforts are lost, because of insecurity.

Farmers can’t go to farm, their crops are destroyed, they are maimed and raped and some are even killed.

We cannot continue like this, because if you have a programme you are spending billions on, we must secure it and we must ensure the food security of this country.”

Okowa called for wholesale adoption of ranching given that, apart from safety issues, it is more beneficial for both cattle owners and herders.

“Ranching obviously is the only way out as is happening in other climes and it’s not impossible in this place.

In some parts of Taraba State, ranching has been on for so many years and we can actually create those ranches where the cattle will have more meat, more milk and then the children can actually afford to go to school,” he said.

“We may not go into the big ranches, but we can start in some form by acquiring some lands for that purpose and it may not be owned by individuals.

Government can own the ranches where individuals can come and populate and pay some form of token,” the governor stated.

“The voices for restructuring have been very strong out there. Why will somebody even criticise on restructuring?

The only thing you need to know is that restructuring is of various facets, you only have to bring forth your arguments”, Okowa said as he spoke with selected journalists in Asaba.

His stand came against the backdrop of the criticisms of the Asaba Declaration by Abubakar Malami, Federal Attorney and Minister of Justice including Mallam Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman.

“I actually thought that the voices who tend to criticise the meeting failed to have an understanding.

People should learn to approach things after a very deep thought rather than just looking at the surface, picking one thing and speaking about it.

“We actually came in as state governors to reaffirm our belief in the Nigerian state and secondly we do also realise that there are things going on very wrongly and there was a need to address them,” the governor said.

He had earlier called for the writing of a new constitution, not an amendment, to accommodate emerging issues of good governance and greater interest of Nigerians when he received on a courtesy visit, the Senate sub-committee on review of the 1999 Constitution led by Senator James Manager in Asaba.

He told the committee that a new Constitution for the country had become imperative in view of observed inadequacies in the 1999 Constitution and called for the insertion of a clause to allow for the re-writing of the present Constitution while it would continue to be in operation until a new one was ready.

“I believe that the southern governors’ meeting was in the best interest of this nation and not just the southern part of the country, because the voices of our people have continued to ring loud and ours was just to reflect their voice.

“We first proclaimed as a people and as governors who run the various States in Southern Nigeria that we believe in the Federation and unity of this country, because there has been a lot of voices on secession here and there,” Okowa stated.

“There is nobody that has not talked about restructuring. Even the APC government constituted a restructuring committee headed by Nasir el-Rufai and they agreed that restructuring was inevitable.

It has to be done. That is why we asked for the national dialogue so that we can sit down and look at the issues and agree together as a nation, as peoples of same nation on what and what will be needed and I think it is very important.

“It is important and it will help to enhance the peace and recreate hope amongst our people that truly we are in a federation that is united in the best interest of the federating units. I don’t see why people will need to criticise that.”

On state police, Okowa said the way the federal police is structured “is such that they won’t be able to police this nation, it’s impossible. We are not saying that they are incompetent.

“But when the police hierarchy is already calling for vigilantes, they are calling for state police.

So the state police can be organized in such a manner that it assists the federal police, because the level of insecurity in this country now is too high and we need to do something about it.”

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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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