Dr Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology says that Nigeria postal reform will receive a big boost if the Nigeria Postal Commission Bill 2014 is quickly passed into law by the legislative arm of government.
The Minister’s call to the Legislature followed the approval of the proposed law to reform postal systems in Nigeria by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday February 11, this year.
Johnson describes the FEC approval as “a timely impetus to push harder and further with the reform of the Nigerian postal sector, and we look to the Legislature to quickly pass this into law.“
According to her, “the passage of the Bill into law will allow for the establishment of an effective, impartial and independent regulatory authority for the postal sector; and this will help to ensure fair competition in the postal industry.”
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Dr Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, Nigeria”]“The passage of the Bill into law will allow for the establishment of an effective, impartial and independent regulatory authority for the postal sector; and this will help to ensure fair competition in the postal industry.” [/blockquote]
The Minister adds that the proposed reform will introduce greater transparency and predictability in the sector and will encourage private investment and development of the broader economy as “practically every sector of the economy depends on service providers in the postal industry.”
Need for Nigeria Postal reform
According to the sector’s supervisory Ministry, the Postal sector in Nigeria has grown over time with more than 1,200 post offices owned by government, close to 2,000 postal agency outlets managed by individuals and over 290 registered private courier companies.
But statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics show that whilst year-on-year growth is increasing, the contribution of the Post and Courier Services sector to GDP (at 0.03%) is still low, CommTech Ministry says.
According to Johnson, the Nigeria Postal Commission Bill 2014 is designed to reform and reposition the postal sector in line with global trends and international best practices.
“It promotes a postal sector that is efficient, cost effective, better funded and capable of delivering service that meets universal obligations embedded in National policies and programmes such as the Transformation Agenda and Vision 20:2020”, she adds.
The Ministry explains that postal sector is managed by NIPOST, therefore the growth of the sector is intrinsically tied to the reform of NIPOST.
The process of reforming NIPOST began in the early 2000s, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), through the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), started with objectives that included: Establishing a low cost universal postal service that provides a solid communication medium and link nation-wide, providing a safe and efficient postal service that is sustainable and keeps pace with development in the rest of the world, introducing private sector participation and the development of the postal service into a commercially viable enterprise and creating a convenient means of savings mobilisation and payment and/or funds transfer system for the entire country through the postal network.
“However, whilst the conceptual framework for reform was developed, the process of its ownership and actualisation has suffered significant delays and action, and on some aspects has stalled. For example it may be recalled that a number of (private members) Bills to amend the Nigerian Postal Service Act, 1992 have been considered by the legislative arm of Government but none passed into law”, according to the Ministry.
Need for Nigeria Postal reform and future of NIPOST
Since 2011 and the start of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, the focus of reform has been to promote NIPOST as a “necessary tool for the promotion of social, financial and digital inclusion”, the Minister adds.
According to her, “the Administration has sought to restructure NIPOST along business lines through the establishment of a new management style that focuses on operational excellence, quality improvement, customer focus, result-oriented management, and cost control.”
Johnson explains further that, “in a bid to empower NIPOST to respond more effectively in a very competitive environment, the deployment of massive ICT infrastructural system with focus on carrying out ICT-based services, including on-line and automated services in post offices is being implemented (in stages). The anticipated result will be improvement in the quality of service and process efficiency, and through that the regaining of public confidence in service delivery.”
CommTech Ministry projects that when passed into law, the Bill will also help to promote the provision of modern universal, efficient and easily accessible postal services.
“By ensuring that the needs of the poor, disabled and elderly persons are taken into consideration, and setting a robust framework for protecting the right and interest of consumers; the Bill aids in furthering the attainment of more inclusive socio-economic development in Nigeria.”