By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Workers of Nigerian Post and Telecommunications (NIPOST) have given the federal government a 21-day ultimatum within which to address their grievances or face industrial action.
The workers are protesting against the printing of stamps by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), describing it as usurpation of their duties.
The workers under the aegis of Senior Staff of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) said the federal government should facilitate an urgent meeting of stakeholders in order to arrive at an amicable resolution of the issues.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the General Secretary of SSASCGOC, Dr. Ayo Olorunfemi, said many Nigerians have stopped purchasing adhesive stamps from NIPOST.
He threatened that SSASCGOC may report Nigeria to the International Postal Union “as we can no longer tolerate lip service at the expense of good governance which is the bedrock of development.”
Olorunfemi said: “To this end, we are calling on the federal government to facilitate an urgent meeting among NIPOST, FIRS, SSASCGOC and other stakeholders in order to arrive at an amicable resolution. Failure to do this within 21 days from July 9, 2020, we shall have no other option than to direct all our members in NIPOST to withdraw their services.
“It is very painful that while other nations are protecting and developing their postal services and making maximum use of the services for advancement, Nigeria is busy trying to kill its own.”
While expressing shock at what he described as high level of government insensitivity to the plight of NIPOST and its staff, Olorunfemi said despite appeal by SSASCGOC that nothing should be done to kill the NIPOST, all efforts were being made to throw the organisation into oblivion.
“We recognise the power conferred on FIRS to collect stamp duties just as that of the NIPOST power to produce and issue stamps. These must be acknowledged and recognised in implementing the Finance Act.
“Therefore, it is illegal for FIRS to produce stamp to denote duties when it can be procured from NIPOST. It should be noted that stamp is a product of NIPOST as given to it by law. The Finance Act did not give any power to FIRS to produce stamp,” he said.
According to him, although SSASCGOC recognised the power conferred on FIRS to collect stamp duties, it is illegal for FIRS to produce stamp to denote duties when it could be procured from NIPOST.
He added: “We have not thrown out seeking redress in court to challenge the illegality; we have to exhaust all avenues before seeking redress in court. Some people are trying to play mischief and feeding the president with wrong information. We will not lose less than 15,000 workers and we will not allow that to happen, but we will protect the interest of our members.
“It should be noted that both NIPOST and FIRS are statutory corporations for which this union has jurisdiction to organise their staff. Therefore, our position must always be balanced according to the laws of the land. That is why we are insisting that both organisations must develop a synergy that will enhance higher productivity in the area of stamp matter.”