Uche Usim, Abuja
Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh has assured worried workers of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) that the on-going reform of the postal service will not attract job losses or retrenchment, rather create more jobs in the subsidiaries that would emerge after the reform.
Receiving the leadership of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE), led by its President, Rev. (Dr) Nehemiah G. Buba which paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the Director General said that NIPOST after the reform would still remain 100 percent entity of the Federal Government as the reform only aims at commercializing its services and making it robust to deliver more efficient postal service.
He informed the labour leaders that already three commercial ventures-NIPOST Properties & Development Company;NIPOST Transport & Logistics Company and NIPOST Microfinance bank Limited have been carved out of NIPOST which the Bureau 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 and also that of obtaining regulatory approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for NIPOST Microfinance bank had also commenced.
The Director General reiterated 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.
He said in order to sensitize all the relevant stakeholders on the need for the reform, the Bureau in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Communication & Digital Economy and NIPOST held zonal workshops in five of the six geo-political zone of the country, except the North-Central Zone which was to be held in Abuja but for the outbreak the worldwide Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic.
The Director General announced that the reform of the postal sector will lead to the emergence of Nigerian Postal Commission (NPC) as a regulator of the sector to ensure efficiency, service delivery and check abuses. He said 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 and 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.
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.
The President of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE), Rev. (Dr) Nehemiah G. 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 have 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 Bureau to always update the union members on the progress of the reform.
The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) at its meeting held on 31st October, 2017, approved the reform of the Postal Sector and the restructuring and modernisation of the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST).
Further more, Council also approved; the constitution of a Steering Committee to be chaired by the Honourable 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; and the appointment of KPMG as Transaction Adviser.