From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Before electronic mailing system, via internet, witnessed a boon, letter writing and postal system, formed a prominent feature of Nigeria’s communication system. Apart from telephony, postal system was so effective that, even in the remotest parts of Nigeria, letters got delivered to promptly.
Post offices were always beehive of activities, while NIPOST’s boxes dotted many homes. But with the advent of electronic mailing system in the mid 90s, followed by the introduction of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) in early 2000, postal service suffered a decline, while NIPOST, which was once active and effective, almost became comatose.
Post offices turned into ghost centres, while some overgrew by weeds. The populace, which once owned post office keys with their shoulders up, switched to e-mailing and short message service (SMS) offered by GSM.
Determined to reverse this ugly situation and reposition NIPOST, the management, led the Post Master-General (PMG), Bisi Adegbuyi, organised one-week strategic management retreat for its top managers. The retreat, themed: “Posting the Post into Prosperity, NIPOST Vision 2020; Embracing the Future Today,” was held at the Training and Conference Center, Ogere-Remo, Ogun State, from Monday, May 22 to Friday, May 26, 2017. Attended by 50 top managers of NIPOST, the retreat, according to the Director, Strategic and Business Development, Abdul-Kareem Baba, was mainly to build the capacity of the top echelon of the agency, with a view to reposition NIPOST for efficient service delivery.
He explained that though the agency would procure modern equipment, to replace the old conveyor belt machines installed over 50 years ago, enhancing capacity and the managerial skills of the staff, was important in achieving the goals of new NIPOST. He said visit of to Tunisia and Morocco exposed the agency’s management to modern facilities being used in posts system, which would be replicated by the agency to put it on the global pedestal.
“This retreat is to enlighten our managers on the new vision, which is in tandem with the minister, who had made it clear that NIPOST must be re-energised and repositioned. And we believe that would not be possible without change of attitude in the leadership, to bring about this good work ethics among the staff.
“For the acceleration of postal service reform and our vision to be actualised, however, this postal agency has developed four pillars with 18 programmes. These pillars are: structural and management reform; quality service/customer care improvement; innovation/modernization of postal infrastructure and use of appropriate technology; and diversification.”
Adegbuyi said the reform was to imbue technology into the operation of the oldest communication system in Nigeria, describing the reform as a “journey into golden future.” He noted that NIPOST must diversify, innovate and introduce new services to be at par with best global practices:
“Everybody agrees that NIPOST is not in the best shape. We have been working to leverage on the opportunities at our disposal. We want to reduce cost and shore up our revenue by re-engineering the agency to meet up with modern demands. This, we will do by ensuring our mail processing is automated and our tracking system is upgraded time, in order for the customers to be able to track their parcels, mails and packages, on real time online.
“Similarly, NIPOST will diversify into another business opportunity called e-commerce; it is also tapping into online shopping delivery service. When the Postal Reform Bill is eventually passed, NIPOST services will become computerized and the agency will be able too operate as a public liability company. This is to make it more competitive.”
The PMG noted that there are about 90 million Nigerian youths who could have built humongous traffic for postal system, but had been addicted to electronic mail, internet and GSM short messages. He disclosed that a programme tagged, “Robust Youth Engagement Programme,” was designed to attest and redirect youth to NIPOST.
Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, said it was Federal Government’s desire to reposition NIPOST, with a view to make the agency more profitable. He expressed optimism that a revitalised NIPOST, with reliance on ICT, would not only enhance the skills and productivity of the workforce, but help in positioning the agency for superior performance:
“NIPOST with its 5,300 post offices across Nigeria, when repositioned, should be able to deliver financial and other essential services to Nigerians in remote locations. Again, the agency should also diversify into e-commerce, e-governance, internal freight, property development, transport, insurance and banking, to generate more revenue. The postal agency could be the best cash cow of Nigerian government. This capacity building retreat is indeed germane to prepare the staff and management of NIPOST towards running more efficient and prosperous postal agency.”