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Egypt-Israel flights take off, warming relations that have been stagnant for years



Egypt-Israel flights take off, warming relations that have been stagnant for years
Egypt-Israel flights take off, warming relations that have been stagnant for years

An Airbus 320 belonging to Egyptair airline lands for the first time in a commercial flight, at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Oct. 3, 2021. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

For economic reasons, in particular, the Egyptian community sees the rewards experienced by Israel and their new peace partners in the Gulf as a result of the Abraham Accords and want a piece of the pie, said former Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel.

The first commercial Egyptair flight touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday, potentially symbolizing a new chapter in the relationship between Israel and Egypt, which has been at peace, albeit a cold one, since the two nations signed a diplomatic agreement in 1979.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Egyptair—the country’s official national airline—will operate four nonstop roundtrip commercial flights a week between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

Former Ambassador Zvi Mazel, who served eight years at Israel’s embassy in Cairo—from 1980 to 1982 during his first stint, and then as the ambassador for five years from 1996 to 2001 during his second—expressed cautious optimism that the new route could signify a thawing of relations.

Mazel, currently a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS, “If this flight signals the warming of relations and is the opening of a new phase in normalization between the countries, then yes, absolutely, I am happy.”

On the flip side, Mazel said that “after 42 years of peace, at the same time, it’s a little bit sad that it took so long for an official commercial flight from Egypt to land at Ben-Gurion Airport.”

Mazel explained that following the signing of the 1979 peace accords, commercial flights between Egypt and Israel were operated by a company called “Nefertiti” after the famous Egyptian queen, and afterward and until recently were run by Air Sinai Airlines, but flew utilizing unmarked planes and without the country’s logo.

Expressing some skepticism, Mazel said it was significant in his view that two weeks ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the meeting took place in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh as opposed to the capital of Cairo, where he said foreign dignitaries are normally welcomed.

He added that like other leaders before him, perhaps El-Sisi was concerned about demonstrations by the Egyptian people if top-ranking Israeli leaders were welcomed to the capital, noting that the “old elite” and “extremists” in Egypt still don’t favor ties with the Jewish state.

He was also disappointed following the Bennett-El-Sisi talks, saying, “I expected an exchange of an economic, industrial and high-tech delegation between the two nations. This would have been a good beginning towards normalization. But let’s be happy with the landing of the Egyptair flight.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sept. 13, 2021. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

“Maybe now something is changing,” said Mazel. “After all, the Abraham Accords are very important, and I’m sure many Egyptians are asking themselves why they waited this long to normalize relations.”

He added that for economic reasons, in particular, the Egyptian community sees the financial rewards experienced by Israel and their new peace partners in the Gulf as a result of the agreements and wants a piece of the pie.

‘This is a fantastic milestone’

Mark Feldman, director of Diesenhaus Jerusalem, a leading tourism brand in Israel, also praised the new route as a byproduct of the Abraham Accords and told JNS that he hopes the regularly scheduled flights will encourage Egyptian tourists to visit while boosting ties between the two countries.

He said “the significance that Egyptair is flying to Israel is a testament to the lasting effects of the Abraham Accords. After dozens of years of Air Sinai flying between Cairo and Tel Aviv so the Egyptian government could avoid any embarrassment, the fact that the relationship is no longer hidden shows great leadership in their government.

“One can hope that it will encourage Egyptians to visit Israel just as Israelis have been touring through Egypt for decades,” continued Feldman. “This is a fantastic milestone in Israel being accepted as a nation in the Middle East. There really is no turning back; this strengthens ties tremendously.”

There is also speculation that many Christians are interested in taking advantage of the new route to visit Israel along with Egypt; however, at this point due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and restrictions limiting the numbers of tourists allowed into Israel, Feldman said that “I’m sure we will see an influx of Christians combining a visit to the Holy Land with Egypt, but until we open up our country, nobody is making plans.”

The groundbreaking Egyptair flight arrived less than a week after the first Gulf Air airlines commercial flights were launched between Bahrain and Israel as a direct result of the Abraham Accords. A festival ceremony was held at Ben-Gurion on Sept. 30 celebrating the landing of the first Gulf Air flight, Bahrain’s national carrier, from Manama.







SON vows to checkmate quackery in management system practice



SON vows to checkmate quackery in management system practice

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says it has mapped out plans to get rid of quacks involved in management system practice in the country.

Its Director-General, Malam Farouk Salim, made this known on Thursday at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement for the National Register for Conformity Assessment Practitioners (NRCAP) in Lagos.

Salim said the move would put an end to unscrupulous individuals who shortchanged companies and individuals.

According to him, the quacks lacked the required competency to operate in the management system space.

Salim said that conformity assessment practice was central to the sustenance of commercial success and continuity in all sectors.

He said that management system practitioners were vital toward ensuring that practices carried out by the industries “are in alignment with the international best practice in terms of the expectations of existing conformity assessment standards”.

“It is in view of the importance of the authenticity and traceability of products and services to meet the requirements of relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards and other approved specifications.

“SON seeks to pursue the implementation of Part II, Section 4(d) and Part III, Section 5 of the SON Act No.14 of 2015.

“Via the operation of the NRCAP scheme, in order to establish a directory of verified and registered Conformity Assessment Practitioners in Nigeria for all laboratories, management system consultants, Training Service Providers, Certification bodies, inspection bodies, inspectors, auditors and assessors.”

He said that lack of regulation of activities of the practitioners over the years had negatively impacted the industry and country significantly.

Salim listed other impacts including: “poor protection of genuine practitioners, unhealthy competition, poor visibility and recognition of genuine and competent practitioners capable of attracting patronage.

“Others are poor value for money for unsuspecting customers patronising quacks who deliver poor services.”

He also said that lack of official register of competent practitioners to aid national planning and coordination of economic activities that border on standardisation and quality assurance was also a challenge to the growth of the economy.

“This engagement is guided by the strategic collaboration/partnership that SON shares with various organisations over time, especially with the SON Management Systems Certification and Training Services Departments with which you interface through your customers, of which you are expected to bring to bear, your wealth of experience to this national call,” he said.

The SON director-general said that the registration processes, including approved guidelines, expectations of benchmarking Conformity Assessment standards and interests while developing the documents, were taken into consideration to ensure that impartiality of the process was assured.

He said that adequate training was given to the practitioners to boost their service delivery.

Earlier, Bode Oke, the First President, Society for Management System Practitioners of Nigeria, said the group would join hands with SON to stem quackery in the system to ensure that consumers get value for money they spent.

Oke said: “We are here to gain more knowledge and to join SON in the registration of all management system practitioners.

“We are going to partner with SON to ensure that the exercise is successful because we have a lot of companies practicing management systems that are not trained and competent.

“We are working together with SON to ensure that we remove all those incompetent people from the system.

“So that whenever a client approaches practitioners for registration, the client will know that he will not be shortchanged and get value for the money spent,” he said.

Oke said that the roles of system practitioners were vital in business growth and development.

He stressed that the system practitioners were responsible for taking companies through quality management systems certification, environmental management system certification, occupational health and safety certification and food management system certification.

“The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has established standards for all management systems.

“And, therefore, anyone that would lead companies to obtain this certification must be competent.

“This is why SON is regulating all the auditors, consultants and even, the certification bodies because we have some certification bodies coming from outside the country that are not competent, so competency is the key word here,” he said.

In her remarks, Patricia Solarin, a Consultant in the Quality Management System Practice, said that standardisation was germane for industrial development.

Solarin said: “There are so many briefcase-carrying consultants that are going around duping clients and most of these consultants did not even pass their audit test and examination.

“Without standardisation or regulations, it will be difficult to stop the quacks. A lot of companies are being shortchanged, because people taking them through certification do not really know much.

“So, SON is trying to register auditors and consultants, which is a welcome development to ensure that people get value for their hard money spent.”

She commended the leadership style of Salim for taking a bold step to tackle the challenges, urging the government to support SON to achieve greater feats.

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NECA wants FG to tackle challenges stifling businesses



NECA wants FG to tackle challenges stifling businesses

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to demonstrate commitment to addressing monetary and fiscal policy challenges stifling businesses.

The NECA Director-General,  Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde,  made the call in a statement on Thursday in Lagos, listing such challenges as foreign exchange dichotomy, fuel subsidies, multiple taxations, among others.

He made the call, just as he commended the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and government for embracing dialogue to avert the nationwide strike by the workers’ union earlier scheduled to start on March 29.

“The quick response by the government to ease the cash liquidity and the corresponding immediate positive effect on the economy demonstrated that it has the capacity to address policies once it is determined to do so.

“Therefore, we call for similar determination and consultative engagements with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders to proffer solutions to business challenges in order to facilitate competitiveness and productivity, “ he said.

He commended the efforts of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Minister of Labour and Employment for personally getting involved.

He also lauded them for monitoring the disbursement to ensure compliance with the bank’s directive to end the cash crunch, of which the economic nerve centre and other areas had started witnessing improvement.

“The CBN has shown goodwill and true support for the ailing economy by immediately disbursing cash to the commercial banks.

“Also, by directing the banks to open beyond their normal working hours to ease the cash crunch in the nation: an action which could have been averted in the first place, “ he said.

Oyerinde, however, warned that the ripple effects of the cash swap policy would linger as it would take considerable time for businesses, especially the informal sector, to recover.

He said that many of them had closed due to low purchasing power of consumers.

The NECA chief said that business activities had stagnated in the last 10 weeks of the implementation of redesigning of the currency policy nationwide.

He said this had led to reduced productive output, high inventory and jobs cut, and impediments to personal and business transactions.

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Court Declares Activities of Kogi Transport Management Agency as Illegal



Court Declares Activities of Kogi Transport Management Agency as Illegal

…Says laws establishing KOTRAMA is inhuman***

A Kogi High Court on Thursday declared the activities of the Kogi Transport Management Authority (KOTRAMA), as illegal.

Justice Clement Kekere of High Court 10 made the order while delivering judgment in a case instituted against the agency by an Abuja-based lawyer,  Mr. Martin Atojoko.

Kereke, who faulted the law establishing KATROMA.

“By the evidence before the court, I hereby order that the Law establishing the agency be set aside forthwith.

“This is because the law made by the state house of assembly contravenes the Provisions of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act 2007.

“In all, the laws establishing KOTRAMA is inhuman, and is established to cause hardship on motorists,” the judge held.

The judge also awarded the plaintiff, N100,000 as general damages against the agency.

Atojoko had sued KATROMA and joined the Kogi House of Assembly, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the state government as second, third and fourth defendants in the matter.

Atojoko had prayed the court to compel the defendants to pay him N10 million as general and exemplary damages for inter-alia the first defendant’s unlawful and illegal action of detaining and impounding his car.

The plaintiff had told the court in his originating summon that on June 22, 2022, he was stopped by officers of KOTRAMA over an expired driver’s licence while they impounded his Toyota Corolla car.

“My lord, I only got my car back the next day, after paying N10,000 in fines, an action which is but a contravention of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Law of 2007, ” he said.

Atojoko thereafter prayed the court to issue an order declaring that the second defendant could not make laws empowering the first defendant to exercise the powers of the Federal Road Safety Corp (Establishment) Act, 2007 in inspecting the driver’s license of motorists, issued by the FRSC and codifying same in Kogi Road Traffic Administration and Vehicle Inspection Law, 2018.

“A declaration that all the provisions of the Kogi Road Traffic Administration and Vehicle Inspection Law, 2018, empowering the first defendant to exercise the powers of the FRSC in the inspection of the driver’s license of motorists as invalid, illegal, unlawful, null and void ab initio.

“An order that the KOTRAMA cannot fine the plaintiff and impound his vehicle with registration No. 2T1BU4EE9AC312480, without first trying him and finding him guilty before a court of competent jurisdiction.

“An order that the act of the first defendant in impounding the vehicle and fining him without powers to do so is invalid, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void, ab initio,” he pleaded.

But KATROMA and other defendants through their Counsel, Mr. B.O. Obenege, had debunked the claims of the plaintiff and said that the agency acted within the ambit of the law that established it.

Obenege claimed that the house of assembly Law that established KOTRAMA was not a duplication of the FRSC Law of 2007.

He prayed the Court to hold that the action of KOTRAMA has not contravened the Kogi Law or any other law, and the claimant was given a summary fine of N10,000, all in accordance with Section 1(3) of the Law.

“In conclusion, we urge your lordship to dismiss the case for lack of merit,” Obenege had pleaded with the court.

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