By Olabisi Olaleye
Postmaster-general (PMG), Mr. Adebisi Adegbuyi has denied that the Internet has crippled opportunities for making money for conventional communication systems like the postal service.
However, he was quick to state that current challenges were not synonymous to the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) but postal agencies all over the world have encountered challenges because of disruptive technologies.
What would you say have been your achievements since you took office?
We need to rejig NIPOST because our workforce is our strength and we must improve their capacity. I have also looked at the NIPOST consultants report from Netherland; in conjunction with the World Bank, World Enterprises of Nigeria and the Federal Government of Nigeria contracted to look into the dynamics and internal workings of NIPOST. Even that report has been there for nine years and my predecessors in office either didn’t have the political courage to implement it for various reasons, as civil servants, and left it untouched. And I have looked at it and started the implementation of the report, creation of the seven zones, six commercial business units in line with the current reality and what is happening in the world.
We have created Express Mail Service, EMS, and counter operations, logistics, e-commerce, property and financial services. Also, in the course of looking at the operational challenges of NIPOST, we realised that they have been old track and rail system, which is analogue, and commenced logistics and lands while ensuring that we migrate from the analogue to IPS 2015 version that will enable our customers to track their mails and packages online. Which means that customers can from the comfort of their homes track their mails, parcels and packages. A lot of things are ongoing and by the time I am one year in office in August, I am going to unveil a total package of what I have in store both short, long and medium terms.But one thing is very clear, revolution in the postal industry is underway, because we are going to deploy appropriate technology and innovate and diversify.
NIPOST has been a mono-product organisation and that has affected its fortunes and we need to reposition NIPOST with new streams of income, products and services. It is a company that is customer-centric and market-driven and in any market-driven environment, the customer is always king. We want our customers to be happy, to retain their loyalty.
How do you think Nigerians will buy into this vision, compared to the telecoms adoption?
Contrary to people’s belief that Internet has crippled opportunities for making money, that is not totally correct. Postal agencies worldwide have encountered challenges because of disruptive technologies but the Internet that reduced the mail volume, it has also given us several abundant opportunities in the area of e-commerce, which is growing financially. It is the technology that has created e-commerce that allows people to shop online and the products have to be conveyed and delivered to them. And it is one area that NIPOST will leverage upon because we have created the logistics via EMS while using appropriate technology. And we will ensure that other opportunities in that sector are exploited just like Morocco, Tunsia and Kenya are benefitting in that area. Nigeria cannot be an exception, therefore, it will take a postal administrator or CEO that can think outside the box to see and grab the opportunities that abound. We are ready to take the opportunity.
What is your target?
My target is to ensure that we block leakages as much as possible in the system, because we still operate brick and mortar system. NIPOST has become an organisation that is determined to use appropriate technology through automation. When processes are automated, leakages are blocked.
Perhaps some people might outsmart the automation process out of selfish interests?
No, I disagree with you. Nigerians are not interested in tampering with automation process. What we must do as an organisation is to ensure that we put mechanisms in place and ensure that people do not tamper with the automation in the system. And I can assure you that when we do all of these, we reduce leakages in the operations and because we are diversifying, our income generation will soar. Once revenue is increased, it will impact on the GDP of the country. Other areas are also there because we are in the process of amending the stamp duty bill that would allow NIPOST to benefit from the new opportunities in electronic stamp duty protocol. Before now, NIPOST was selling stamps manually but it has developed capacity for electronic platform simply because the Internet has given us other avenues of making money via PoS transactions, online banking and other areas that we need to develop electronically for appropriate stamping to make money. The responses are quite encouraging,once the stamp duty tax is passed, we will make lots of money for the economy.
But most Nigerians are actually not happy with it, what is your take?
Well, I disagree, because when we had a public hearing, most Nigerians who came supported it. We don’t want to mislead the public, it is not taxation and not a new thing at all, it has always been with us since 1939. What we are trying to do is to amend it and play on the electronic platform because we must also ensure that laws are amended to be able to cope with disruptive technologies that is enveloping everywhere.