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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Notoriety of Trade Associations

IN recent years, the notorious activities of the leaders of some trade associations, particularly artisans and petty traders associations have taken a worrisome dimension with it’s attendant effects on the members and people at large.
IT is a common practice for an average Nigerian explore to belong to a trade group with the hope that it will better his or her life and protect their interests.
BUT rather than use the platforms to improve the lots of their members, some of the leaders in the artisans and petty traders associations have turned themselves into menace and nuisance exploiting their members.
TODAY, the associations have moved far away from their basic aims and objectives into a monster and have become more pernicious through their dictatorial tendencies and unwholesome activities, making life unbearable for their members by imposing taxes on them and fixing exorbitant prices. This has consequently taken its tolls on the citizens.
The Hope observes that thus far, their intention has not been helpful or lead people out of poverty, but injurious to their means of livelihood. The leaders have turned themselves into demi gods to be worshiped.
FOR an example, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and others had been a bad specimen of what an ideal union should be has a result of incessant violations of fundamental human rights of members and their extortion. This has contributed enormously to the soaring and uncontrolled prices of goods and commodities, thereby inflicting untold hardships on the economically depressed citizens.
IT is quite absurd that the menace is prevalent and more notorious in Ondo State. For example, artisans mostly those engaged in menial jobs and petty traders are compelled and coerced to belong to an association under compulsion, failure of which attracts penalty, intimidation, harassment and most times, outright ban on operation. And these disgruntled elements have been having their ways since their activities have not been checkmated.
THE most recent dehumanising case was that of late Mrs. Dorcas Ajayi, a middle-aged fish seller in Akure, popularly known as ‘Iya Segun,’ She reportedly lost her life when the wall of a building fell on her, while hiding from the fish sellers ‘illegal’ Task Force over her inability to pay the balance of the levy imposed on them by the leadership of the association.
WE commiserate with the family of the deceased and pray for the repose of her soul. It is quite unfortunate that the woman lost her life while in the course of searching for her means of livelihood.
WE commend Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi, for swunging into action through his Senior Special Assistant on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, by suspending the association temporarily, with a promise to investigate the matter.
OVER a decade ago, a similar incident happened in which some leaders of a so-called Tailor Association in Akure were dragged before the court of the then Magistrate Bola Adejumo, now Justice Bola Adejumo. The accused were alleged to have beaten a tailor to stupor for his refusal to join the association. Their action infuriated the presiding magistrate such that she warned them that anytime they were brought to court again on similar matter, she would commit them into prison custody.
THE HOPE recalls a similar incident in Akure few years back, when a woman selling vegetables on tray to put food on the table of her family was beaten blue and black by the so-called task force of the association, for refusing to join the association.
WE outrightly condemn this incessant dastardly act of the associations at coercing people to belong to their unions, to their detriment.
IT is pertinent to note that freedom of association is one of the most basic rights enjoyed as it ensures that every individual is free to organise, form and participate in groups, either formally or informally. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as ammended) clearly provides as follows: “Every person shall be entitled to assembly freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any association for the protection of his interests.”
THE section further encompasses an individual’s right to join or leave groups voluntarily and the right of the group to pursue the interests of its members.
HOWEVER, the reverse has been the case in the so-called trade associations saddled with the aims of protecting the interests of their members and assisting them and The Hope raises the question, why should people be forced to belong to any association when the nation’s Constitution guarantees freedom of association?
WE use this medium to draw the attention of the state government to instant cases of harassment of innocent traders by powerful middle men and cartels who have constituted themselves into powerful blocs of exploiters feeding fats on the sweats of hapless people.
This act of forcing people into trade groups or association is only notorious in southern part of the country and prompt step must be taken to curb their unbridled greed and avarice to avert a break down of law and order.
WE call on the government to look into the requests of the helpless members of the association in this instant case, and take necessary actions to forestall any further infringement on their human rights . We call on the government to check the notorious activities of the associations to avert more calamities and chaos.
WE emphatically suggest that the government should regulate their activities so as to prevent them from further coercing people into any association or if necessary they should be outlawed.

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