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South East should produce the President – Shehu Sani

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By Success Nwogu

A human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District from June 2015 to June 2019 in this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU on the sidelines of a summit, convened by the leader of the Nigerian Red Card Movement, Dr. Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, titled, “Masses awakening and elite patriotism: The search for a better Nigeria,’ addresses national issues:

People are concerned about Nigeria. How do you feel about the nation currently?

We should be concerned; the separatist agitation in the South Eastern part of Nigeria is a threat to peace. It has the possibility of destroying the region economically and those who are engaged in this must stop.

Secondly, we should also build a process where there should be a dialogue with people who are thinking that breaking Nigeria is the solution. Afterall, those separatists, whether they are Sunday Igbogho or Nnamdi Kanu, were once patriots who believed in Nigeria.

So what made them to divorce themselves from Nigeria and now want to break it?

Let us examine those issues and work towards addressing them for a united country.

Let us show those who believe in Nigeria that they have made a right choice and by doing that, we disappoint those who want to break the country.

What is the import of burning public infrastructure such as facilities of Correctional Centres, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others? What is your advise?

It is condemnable to destroy public facilities, to attack the police, to burn INEC facilities and attack federal establishments. The perpetrators are simply destroying themselves.

This is happening mostly in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria. The Igbos have grown to be an economic power in Nigeria.

They are not just dominant in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, they are dominant in all parts of the country.

In Abuja today and in all parts of the north, they are there in the servicing industry, real estate, manufacturing and commerce, they are dominant. Now how do you want to shrink them to a small space?

The Igbos of the 1940s and 1950s are not the Igbos of the 21st century.

The Igbos of the 21st century, is a king that has gone beyond his own domain to also rule over land, so how do you want to pull him backwards to where he had already progressed.

A crisis in the South East is a threat to peace and order in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. We pray that South East does not become like North East because where people go to patronise goods, where people go to patronise industry; where people go for market, whether it is at Aba or Onitsha, if you create a situation of instability there, people will stop coming and that is very destructive.

So the Igbo of the 21 century is a king in many places. So you do not need to bring him back to be a king in a small place.

We have grown up and I can’t imagine myself waking up and not seeing Uche, Chidinma, Eze, Ada and Chinwe. I can’t imagine myself not seeing such people. Why should you be thinking of reducing the igbo man to a small territory when he has already conquered many territories.

Should the South or precisely South-East, produce the President of Nigeria in 2023?

Ofcourse, it is legitimate for them to produce the next President. It is unfair, since 1999, they have never produced a President or a Vice-President. The same thing with the North Central.

So why can’t they produce? They should be able to produce the President. It is a matter of consensus between the two major political parties to achieve that.

I believe that such an attempt can crush the agitations (for secession). Igbos have been living in the northern part of Nigeria long before many of us who are northerners were born.

And they have become a household and landlords. And they have developed assimilation with the society where they live.

So we must appreciate the northerners for the restraint too and for the hospitality which they have given people from other parts of the country.

The violence in the South East should be condemned but we should not judge the Igbos with the killings in the South Eastern part of Nigeria because as much as you can not judge the Hausas and northerners with the Boko Haram killings, you can not judge the whole Igbos with the gunmen killings.

Those who are killing represent an insignificant number with the millions of people who are living in other parts of the country in peace. Let us not undermine the political and economic aspirations of that part of the country because of the activities of a few.

What is your message for Nigerians on the summit, convened by the leader of the Nigerian Red Card Movement, Dr. Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, titled, “Masses awakening and elite patriotism: The search for a better Nigeria?’

The message I have for Nigerians at a time like this, is that we should work hard for peace and continue to struggle to hold our government accountable.

At the same time, we should be ready to defend our freedom and our Constitution and gear ourselves, looking at the experiences that we have had in the last seven years, to make sure that the next generation of leaders are different in thinking, in thought, ideology and patriotism, from the ones which we have had in the last seven years.

Your message to the leaders?

The leaders should know very well that power is transient. If you are in a position of leadership today, you should build a nation where tomorrow when you are out of office, you will be comfortable, safe and protected. They should see the opportunity to serve as God’s privilege to them and they should serve their people and not to oppress them. They should look to having a more dignified nation where we all have a sense of belonging and peace.

The summit was convened by a young Nigerian, Yinka, what is your message to people like him?

Yinka is an inspiration to young people in this country. For him to have led a forum like this where a platform is provided without public funds, for people to come and truly express their opinions, he is one patriot that all Nigerians, young people, should appreciate. People should not wait for the government to organise a forum for them to go and express their opinions.

They should be able to organise themselves. A forum like this is an enlightenment process, an education process and an opportunity to exchange ideas and views and also hold the government to account. This is what I call the Peoples’ Parliament, where people come to give ideas on how their country can be governed.

There are concerns that the rights of Nigerians under democracy including protest and opposition are being strifled? What is your take on such a development?

It is important that our leaders should know how delicate and fragile Nigerian democracy is. Leaders who have assumed the position of political power should not shrink the democratic space and deny other people the right to stay and enjoy. We have been through one political party that has ruled this country for sixteen years. The experiences are clear.

We have also been through another political party that is in power for the last seven years. And it is clear to us that our answers and solutions do not lie with one magician or one messiah. It lies within ourselves.

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If we leave governance to politicians, we should know that they are driven by interest and power. And as such the need for civil society, the masses, to continue to agitate for what is theirs. The poor man in the north is suffering like the poor man in the south.

The rich man in the south is comfortable like the rich man in the north. We should see ourselves based on our class differences: people who have not and people who have more than enough. And for us as a country, we have no alternative. Let us do what is right to strengthen this union and this bond for our children and our grandchildren.

There is no doubt that people in authority can be adverse to criticism. It is ironic that people who protested years ago are against protest; people who spoke the truth years ago are also against people who are speaking the truth today.

Our diversity is wealth, it has the opportunity and the platform to make this country great. Government should learn to tolerate criticisms, and embrace ideas from people who necessarily are not within the corridors of power. Solving the problems of this country is beyond partisanship.



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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


mitumba

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


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

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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