The Federal Government’s reform of the postal sector remains on course, as Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, says that a lot of people may still recall with nostalgia, the formidable P&T (Post and Telecommunications).
Speaking at inauguration of steering committee & project delivery team for the postal sector reforms & the restructuring/modernisation of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), the Minister urged the Committee members that they stand at the threshold of history to commence a journey that posterity will either “be kind to us in its assessment or condemn the very reason for which we have gathered.
“Ever since the first postal service was introduced in Lagos in 1851 by the British Postmaster General up to the 1900 when regulations governing an inland post in Nigeria was established through Proclamation No.18 of 1900, the story of postal services in the country has undergone some remarkable historical developments”.
He says that each of these historical milestones had been a result of strong desires to change existing structures and a commitment to achieving a credible postal delivery system in Nigeria.
“This kind of commitment was what pushed the number of postal articles handled by the 27 post offices operating in Northern and Southern Nigeria by 1906 to over 1million. This eventually led to the transfer of the control of Savings Bank from Treasury to the Post Offices in 1907 and the promulgation of the Post Office Savings Bank Ordinance Cap. 43, as well as the Post and Telegraph Regulations Cap. 41 in 1916 “, the Minister notes.
“A lot of people may still recall with nostalgia, the formidable P&T. The location of P&T offices, and their quarters, began the story of any evolving city development; whilst the post offices turned into landmarks in cities and villages, and became rallying centers for business, community meetings and sources for government information.
“In fact, they served as first choice address and directions to any visitor to towns where they are located. At independence in 1960, the then Post and Telecommunications Department had expanded its operations to cover over 2010 departmental post offices and a total of 2,956 employees, a situation that necessitated its elevation from a department to a quasi-commercial institution through the promulgation of the Post Office (Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree of 1966.
“It was from this institution that the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) was established on 1st January, 1985, separating it from the telecommunication stream of the erstwhile P&T.
“The old postal operations have rendered NIPOST commercially unappealing and unviable. Our challenge today is to evolve new creative ways to keep NIPOST alive, not only because it is our collective institutional legacy, but because it must rise up to being a key element in the communication value chain that has come to recognize and accept the place of knowledge resource management as the greatest economic enabler in the increasingly changing global village. More importantly, it is a catalyst to the best that we can ever have in postal service delivery.
He said, for this reason, the Committee was set up as part of the inevitable process of reforming the nation’s postal sector, which will see to the ultimate modernization and restructuring of NIPOST.
“I am aware that the upper chamber of the National Assembly is about to pass the bill of the Nigerian Postal Commission, which sets out to establish a regulator for the nation’s postal sector. In that regard, government wishes to separate what hitherto had been the dual function of NIPOST as regulator and operator. When passed into law, NIPOST will concentrate on its function as an operator in Nigeria’s postal system; hence the need for reforms so that it can make its pitch for a share of the now deregulated postal market.
“For this reason, government has approved that NIPOST be partially commercialized in keeping faith with the Second Schedule Part 1, Section 6(1) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, 1999. However, some of its services would still reflect policies and economic intervention from government.