By Ndubuisi Francis
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh, has assured workers of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) that the ongoing reforms of the agency will not engender job losses or retrenchment, but will rather create more jobs in the emerging subsidiaries
A new commission to be known as the Nigerian Postal Commission (NPC) will also emerge after the reforms as a regulator of the postal services sector, to ensure efficiency, service delivery and check abuses. Okoh, who gave the assurance while receiving the leadership of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE), led by its President, Rev.
Nehemiah Buba, who paid him a visit in Abuja, stated that NIPOST, after the reforms, would still remain a 100 per cent federal government entity.
The reform exercise, he noted, only aims at commercialising NIPOST’s services and making it robust to deliver more efficient postal services.
He told the labour leaders that already, three commercial ventures, including NIPOST Properties & Development Company; NIPOST Transport & Logistics Company and NIPOST Microfinance Bank Limited, have been carved out of NIPOST.
According to him, the BPE had completed the registration of NIPOST Properties & Development Company and NIPOST Transport & Logistics Company at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) while the process for registration at CAC as well as that of obtaining regulatory approvals from
the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for NIPOST Microfinance Bank had also commenced.
Okoh noted that the benefits of the reform of the sector include the provision of efficient postal services and utilisation of vast assets of
NIPOST across the country; reduction in funding from the treasury in terms of subventions to NIPOST and the operation and growth of ancillary
services and business to enhance the overall efficiency of NIPOST to create more jobs.
In order to sensitise all the relevant stakeholders on the need for the reforms, the Bureau, he said, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Communication & Digital Economy and NIPOST held zonal workshops in five of the six geo-political zones of the country, except the North-central zone which was to be held in Abuja but for the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The DG announced that the reform of the postal sector will lead to the emergence of the Nigerian Postal Commission (NPC) as a regulator to ensure efficiency, service delivery and check abuses. He revealed that during a tour of some of the countries that have effectively reformed their postal services and are reaping good dividends, it was discovered that in China for instance, its postal bank has over 80 million customers because of its rural penetration.
Given that most rural communities in Nigeria do not have access to banking facilities, the emergence of NIPOST Microfinance Bank would be beneficial to the communities, he said.
On the request by the union leaders for the Bureau to intervene in the impasse between NIPOST and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on which of the organisations is statutorily required to collect stamp duties in the country, Okoh assured them that the Bureau was already interfacing in the matter and that soon, an amicable solution would be reached.
In his remarks, the NUPTE President, Rev. Nehemiah Buba, commended the federal government for initiating the reform which is now a reality.
He expressed delight over the visit as some of the issues pertaining to the reform which were hitherto not known to the workers had been laid bare by the Bureau.
He promised to go back and educate the NIPOST workers on the imperative of the reform of the sector and appealed to the BPE to always update
the union members on the progress of the reforms.
The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) at its meeting held on October 31, 2017, approved the reform of the postal sector and the restructuring and modernisation of the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST).
The Council also approved; the constitution of a steering committee to be chaired by the Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, to drive the reform process and review the Postal Sector Policy; the constitution of a project delivery team (PDT) to serve as the secretariat of the steering committee and to develop quick-fix reform strategies to make NIPOST commercially viable as well as the appointment of KPMG as transaction adviser.