By Perpetua Onuegbu
It was on Oct. 9, when the country observed the World Post day in Abuja that Mr Smart Tweador, Chief Executive of Smart Connects, a telecom company, expressed concerns about the operations of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
According to him the theme of the day — “Transform to remain an enabler of inclusiveness development and an essential component of the global economy’’ — is apt in addressing some of the challenges facing NIPOST.
He said the coming on stream of cellular phones had tremendously affected the operations of the organisation since letter writing has reduced.
“People make calls and send text messages instead of writing lengthy letters, so NIPOST has got to come up with innovative ways to market their products.
“Besides that, you find out that the courier services are more efficient; aside from that transportation companies are now able to carry letters and those are fast means of getting your letters across.
“All you need to do is to call the person on phone and say go to a certain place and collect a letter, so with all other avenues to get across a letter, you find that the fortunes of NIPOST has really been affected.
“Therefore, the onus is now on the government to compel its agencies and officials to use NIPOST to transmit official letters.
“It should also make use of its Nipost Ems Speedpost services, and you will see that this will improve the staff performance,’’ he said.
Tweador also said the only way to keep the organisation afloat was through patronage, advising the organisation to brace up to meet the current challenges in a competitive society.
He observed that most government officials that paid private courier companies to carry government mails were not helping the post.
But Mr Bisi Adegbuyi, Postmaster-General, NIPOST, insisted that the agency was leveraging on information communications technology tools to introduce innovative products in line with global trend.
“There is so much to be gained from this transformation, you must satisfy your customers who are with the money. We are reinventing ourselves by leveraging on digitisation.
“With all the strong political support we are getting from the Federal Government and the parliament, they have demonstrated their total commitment and their readiness to pass laws that will diversify the productive space of this country and ensure that the postal revolution is achieved.
“As we stand to meet the United Nations Development Goals, we should not forget postal infrastructure as an enabler of inclusive development and a key platform for delivering public services.
“So, NIPOST is introducing International Postal Service, Track and Trace System, Mobile Electronic Stamp, Address Verification System, Electronic Money Order and other financial inclusive services.’’ Adegbuyi said.
He said the Address Verification System was to build trust between organisations and individuals and an easy and quick way to identify and authenticate addresses.
“It gives the security agencies unimaginable information to work with and help government plan better.
“All these are to ensure that the post meets current demands of customers and to make the post viable with the collaboration of other government agencies such as Central Bank of Nigeria and the private sector,’’ he said.
He claimed that NIPOST generated N8. 84 billion in 2016 out of which N4.09 billion was from the sales of adhesive postage stamps, sold under the implementation of the stamping protocol.
“But most government agencies are not using this tool and government is losing a lot of revenue and job opportunities,’’ he observed.
Concerned by his comments, some stakeholders, therefore, called on the Federal Government to compel its agencies and ministries to utilise NIPOST facilities.
According to them, the post has gone to sleep and is no longer in the league of speedy, efficient and effective service delivery.
They insist that for the post to become an agency to be reckoned with once again, government agencies and institutions must be compelled by government to use its facilities.
Similarly, Mrs Caroline Ojo, a civil servant, called on the organisation to look beyond posting of letters and use its spread in all local governments across the nation to utilise its services to improve its revenue generation.
“NIPOST must be proactive and creative; it must make use of its facilities in the nooks and crannies of the country to beat competition.
“Apart from this, it can use the vehicles at its disposal to bridge the gap between villages and cities in the transportation of farm produce.
“There are many possibilities for the organisation, also linking up with small scale businesses and get their patronage, these are areas that the other courier companies will not go to,’’ Ojo said.
Ojo, however, called for attitudinal change and work ethics by the staff of the organisation to move it forward and called on government to review the salary of staff to make them more committed to work.
But Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said with the types of infrastructure and trained personnel of NIPOST, the agency could serve as a veritable organisation for development.
According to him, with the vast offices nationwide including assets such as lands and vehicles, NIPOST is a game changer if all hands were put on deck.
Shittu, nonetheless, solicited the National Assembly’s assistance in fast-tracking processes on a bill for an Act to repeal the Nigeria Postal Service Act to provide for the operations and development of postal services, the establishment of Nigeria Postal Commission and for related matters, 2017, presented to it.
In response to this, Dr Chukwuemeka Ujam, Deputy Chairman, Communication, House of Representatives, said the National Assembly would grant a speedy passage of the NIPOST Reform Bill and the Stamp Duty Reform Bill.
The world observes every October 9 as the post day but the date marks the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, which started in 1874 in Switzerland.
However, the World Post Day started in 1969 at the Universal Postal Union’s congress in Tokyo and it has since then become celebrations worldwide to highlight the importance of postal services.