NIPOST, NASS AND TRANSFORMATION AGENDA
This writers understanding of Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan is that, it is a call for a progressive Nigeria where things are done in a civilized manner and where every Nigerian will truly contribute his or her own quota towards the greatness of the Nation. It is then expected of Nigerians to come up with ideas on how each and every sector of the economy may be improved towards this end.
Presently, it appears that two sectors in the economy standout in the transformation agenda of Mr. President. Without doubt, the Agricultural Sector has witnessed tremendous growth in the last there years of President Jonathan's administration. When we now talk of transformation agenda, this sector ready comes to mind. The Aviation sector also has witnessed great transformation in the years under review; a lot of our airports have undergone quality renovation and expansion. The terminals in quite a number of our airports can now be compared to their counterparts in other advanced climes. Some airports have attained international status as a result of quality transformation. The feat recorded by these ministries is not attributable solely on the efforts of the ministers in charge, but rather, the quality of advise given to President Goodluck Jonathan by experts in these sectors has greatly but positively influenced growth and development.
Does it then mean that Mr. President has not received expert advice on how the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) can be repositioned to compete favourably with its counterparts in the USA, South Africa, Britain, Italy, France and Germany just to mention but few? Much as this writer wants to believe that there are enough expert advice and opinion on how NIPOST could be revitalized for greater efficiency and effectiveness, it must be conceded that legislation has become the albatross in repositioning NIPOST in Nigeria. In a nutshell, political will to reposition the postal industry appears to be at lowest ebb, and National Assembly [NASS] is the greatest culprit here.
For instance, the bills seeking for the establishment of Nigerian Postal Policy (NPP) and Nigeria Postal Service Bill that would have made NIPOST a formidable player in the industry like others in advanced climes has not been passed by the National Assembly. When these bills become law, a lot of activities will pick-up in the establishment. For instance, a lot of jobs will be created; more revenue will accrue to the government.
NIPOST will in turn become a one stop shop in advanced postal and internet activities. It will above all, direct development to the rural areas of the country. This is because as at today, NIPOST boast of the second largest concentration of offices across the country after the Nigeria Police. Arising from the delay in the passage of the postal commission bills, the transformation agenda of the current administration could be said to be witnessing draw back legislatively.
Therefore there is urgent need for Senator David Mark led National Assembly to rise up to the occasion.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POSTAL SERVICE TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH.
According to 2008 edition of Fortune Global 500 Magazine that sought to examine the world's largest corporations; the US Postal Service featured prominently. In the column of the magazine that x-rayed biggest employer of labour, the U.S Postal Service came 4th with 785,929 work forces. In the U.S, the Postal Service ranked 26. In that year it recorded 74,778 Million Dollars revenue. In the list of world's largest corporations, it ranked 83 out of the 500. It is possible that in Nigeria today, the total work force at the federal level may not be more than 1.5 million people; one can then imagine how many Nigerians, a repositioned NIPOST can employ with respect to US Postal Service employment structure. Further information from the magazine revealed that German Postal Service, known as Deutsche Post ranked 55 out of 500 corporations under review, and has 475, 100 work forces in its fold. It recorded revenue of 90,472.5 million dollars. Still on the magazine, Italian Post, known as Poste Italiane, is ranked 109 in the world and made 23,517.7 million dollars as revenue in the year under review. It also employed a total of 146,901workers. In the same year, LaPoste in France, was ranked 223 and posted revenue of 31, 946.9 million dollars.
The employees at its disposal was 299, 010 people. On the other hand, Royal Mail Holding of Britain is ranked 446 in the world, at the same time; it has in its employee structure 198,704 British citizens.
In a nutshell, it could be seen from the above analysis that as a result of quality investment in the sector, there is a direct correlation between employment generation/profitability and effective/efficient postal service in the countries examined by Fortune Global Magazine. In the case of Nigeria, quality investment is lacking, therefore, all hand must be on deck to ensure that Nigeria Postal Service competes with its counterparts in these countries. If US Postal Service can boast of nearly 800,000 employees, what stops NIPOST from employing about 400, 000 people in Nigeria? In line with the need for quality investment drive, the Post Master General of NIPOST, Mallam Mori Baba and his team took the bull by the horns by organizing summit aimed at repositioning the establishment. Speaking at the 3rd Nigerian Courier Summit organized by Courier Regulatory Department (CRD) of NIPOST with the theme: 'Emergent Issues in Nigerian Courier Industry' in Lagos, on Monday October 30, 2013, Mr. Ben Murray Bruce, the Chairman of Sliverbird Group, said that the current financial status of NIPOST was not strong enough to promote better postal development and meet the obligations of the post. While presenting his paper on 'Legislations and Courier Entrepreneurship in Nigeria,' he disclosed that revenue generated by NIPOST was realised from the various products and services like stamp duty, EMEs, Bulkpost, Private Mail Bag renewals, Post Office Box renewals, sales of stamps, agency services, post cash and workshops among others. He explained that by implications, it would not be able to pay the salaries of members of its staff from the internally generated revenue without the salary grant of N6.9 billion from Federal Government. Mr. Ben Murray Bruce urged the Federal Government to provide a take off grant of N35 billion to finance its repositioning strategy, saying that if the money was well utilized, it can double itself in one year. At end of the summit, Murray Bruce, and Dr. Jerry Sonny Ugokwe were mandated to champion the lobby for the passage of the National Postal Policy and Bill for Nigeria Postal Service, a set of all important documents that will surely put NIPOST on sound footing towards competing favourably with it peers in other climes.
That the summit elected to set up a lobby committee to ensure the passage of bills that will go a long way in transforming NIPOST, goes to show that either bureaucracy or legislative insensitivity to the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan is responsible for the delay in the passage of the bills. It goes to show also that the Mallam Mori Baba led NIPOST is doing everything within its powers to see a greater NIPOST Nigerians will be proud of. Apart from the expected doubling of the N35 billion take off grant urgently needed by the post, the expected employment a repositioned NIPOST will generate could go a long way in reducing the level of unemployment in Nigeria. Clearly, the ball is in the court of the National Assembly on this issue. There would not have been any need for lobbying if the National Assembly is aware that that US Postal Service employed almost 800, 000 Americans; Deutsche Post, has in its employment structure, 475,100 Germans, LaPoste in France has 299,010 French citizens working for them. Should NASS be aware of these facts, will the 'Press Our Case' committee set up by NIPOST to ensure the passage of the bills, be necessary? Your guess is as good as mine.
Written By Emeka Oraetoka