The PostMaster General of the Federation (PMG), Dr. Ismail Adewusi Adebayo, on Friday commended the staff of the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) for their resilience in keeping it's operations going despite the COVID-19 pandemic which brought several economic activities to a halt.
The PMG made the disclosure at the 2020 World Post Day celebration which marks the 146th anniversary of the creation of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
The UPU is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) founded on October 9, 1874.
The World Post Day, Adebayo, alluded is a day set aside to celebrate the establishment of this important union, adding that the day also represents an opportunity for postal authorities in all countries of the world to educate government officials and the public of the important and invaluable contributions which postal services makes in the socio-economic development of nations.
As a fundamental means of communication that is easily accessible to the people, there is no doubt that the post occupies a very unique position in every country, he said.
He said:"To underscore that the post continues to serve as an essential instrument of economic and social development in Nigeria, the federal government has embarked on a comprehensive reform of the postal sector to make it responsive to customers’ demands through provision of high quality and affordable universal postal service to the citizenry."
According to him, the year became unique due largely to the distruptions caused by global pandemic occasioned with the set back in every area of life.
Throughout the pandemic, he said, postal employees viewed as essential workers globally have continued to deliver services courageously and interact with individuals and delivered messages at homes and isolated centers.
Given the dramatic changes to posts’ business models, the Universal Postal Union, he stressed has sought to introduce fresh changes to its own high-profile event at the parcel and post Expo to be held in Vienna, Austria.
According to him, the theme for this year’s World Post Day is “More than Mail" which supports the efforts of the UPU to position the postal sector as a modern forward looking industry and an important player in the information Society.
This activities continue today with the launch of a compendium of Nigeria’s 100 years of existence since its amalgamation in 1914 to 2014 as captured in postage stamps and climaxed with the presentation of prizes to winners of the 2020 UPU letter writing competition organized for young people below the ages of 15 and about 2,279 entries were received from students from secondary schools across Nigeria.
The competition, Adebayo, added is designed to develop the skills of young people in letter writing and to contribute in strengthening of national and international friendships, which is one of the cardinal objectives of the Universal Postal Union.
He went further to list the Reform Programmes at NIPOST, since his assumption of office:
I am pleased to inform you that NIPOST management in its efforts to sustain the achievements recorded in the last three years of implementing the re-structuring and reforms policy of the organization which resulted in the creation of 7 Operational Zones, 7 Commercial Business Units (CBUs) and 110 District Offices was aimed at bringing postal services closer to the people as well as for administrative convenience.
This reform program however, engendered a new vision and mission statement for the organization, which is to provide: “a thriving market-driven organization focusing on innovation” and the commitment “To provide efficient, effective and reliable services with the aid of appropriate technology and a well-motivated workforce”. The reform no doubt has brought positive changes in our operations. This address would explain in details some of the measures we have taken to improve the quality of our service delivery.
Mail Delivery Services:
The primary function of NIPOST is to deliver mail both within and outside the country and the Management of NIPOST under my watch is taking deliberate steps to strengthen the operatives in this critical section to enable them perform optimally for improved service delivery to the citizenry. In the last 3 years over 120 motor bikes was purchased for the last mile delivery and 32 Toyota Corolla vehicles were purchased with the IGR of the organization and distributed to the Zonal Heads and District Managers for marketing purposes. While the allowances of our Postmen, dispatch riders and counter officers who are our frontline officers was also reviewed upward to serve as encouragement to these category of officers. We are very much aware of some shortcomings in our mail delivery and as such we are taking serious measures to address them.
Similarly, Operators of the National Mail Route Network have between the month of September, 2019 to the out-break of covid-19 in the last week of March, 2020 have performed optimally as there was consistent, regular daily departure and arrival of vehicles within scheduled time except on few occasions. Within the period under review therefore, a total of 5,310 metric tons of mail items were redistributed across the country and these includes EMS Parcels, E-Commerce packets, Bulk Mail, Cargos and letter packets. However, the outbreak of corona has slowed down our operations but gradually normalizing now with easing of the lock-down by the Federal Government.
Prior to this period, the National Mail Distribution Center (NMDC) as a major mail distribution hub controls seven (7) routes with each route having 2 vehicles plying daily to connect other minor routes at their various exchange locations for faster movement of mail which is expected to meet its delivery target of 24 hours for intra city mail and 48hrs and 72 hours respectively for interstate mail items.
Mail Security and the Fight Against Scam Mail:
As part of efforts to check the activities of fraudsters who use the post office to carry out dubious business transactions, we have put in place Surveillance Teams in all major post offices across the country to oversee the processing, bagging and dispatching of both local and international mail items.
The scanning machine at the International Mail Processing Center (IMPC-AIR), Ikeja-Lagos is doing a good job in detecting volumes of out-bound posted items containing prohibited items. Some of the items often detected includes but not limited to fake currencies both in naira and dollars, forged cheques, international passports and money orders among others.
It is worthy of note that given our wide network as well as our level of technical engagement, it is impossible to claim 100% success in our fight against these unscrupulous Nigerians.
However, we are committed to ensuring that we create conducive environment that will restore public confidence in our operations and assist in redeeming the good image of our dear country.
To secure the mail and other Cargos entrusted to us, we have erected cages and use tarpaulin to cover all items in our custody before dispatching such to their final destinations as well as safeguarding them from being exposed to harsh weather conditions or being tempered with.
Quality of Mail Service Test:
In line with the Quality of Service (QoS) standard set by the Universal Postal Union for meeting customers’ demands, I am pleased to inform you that Nigeria is one of the UPU member countries to strictly adhere to the standard. To ensure that the zones do not default in our set target in mail delivery nationwide, we conduct periodic quality of service test which serves the dual purpose of assisting the organization to measure its performance and also ascertain the extent to which customers respond to the services being offered to them.
Introduction of Financial Services in the Post:
In response to high demands by users of postal services that NIPOST should use its wide network to ameliorate problems of cash transfers, especially to rural areas, the Management has introduced a service known as Financial Services which also got the backing of the Central Bank to offer Agency Banking and international money transfer. The license enables NIPOST offer payment services to its customers as well as transfer money to other parts of the world from a post office location in Nigeria.
As part of the FG’s financial inclusion program and through strategic alliances and partnerships, the Post Office is more than ever before positioned to deliver quality digital services such as the Conditional Cash Transfer program of government for the payment of the social security’s support to the low income earners, especially those in rural areas where banks do not exist. The government is also leveraging on the spread of NIPOST to provide banking services such as the NIRSAL Microfinance bank for purposes of loans disbursements to farmers and to start ups cum existing Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs. To date NIRSAL Microfinance bank has over 55 branches located in major post offices across the country and more are still being constructed within the Post Office premises to meet the growing aspirations of Nigerians for soft loan facility.
The outbreak of corona virus in early part of the year has posed a major challenge to all postal establishments as a result of which skeletal operations were carried out, resulting also in low patronage and dwindling revenues, NIPOST Management embarked on a review especially of its recurrent expenditure which was slashed down by 50% and budgetary procedure whereby cost elements in the operation were identified and their contributions to the planned objectives of the organization evaluated.
The objective of management’s new approach was to instill greater prudence and discipline in the expenditure behavior of most zonal heads, including venture Managers and ensure that areas critical to the success of our operations and survival are given prioriy.
It is pertinent to state that at this juncture that, government has in the last 25 years not funded the Capital Expenditure of NIPOST leading to the overstretching of the internally generated revenue which is grossly inadequate to meet the day to day operational demands of the organization.
Staff Promotion/Review of Conditions of Service:
NIPOST Management believes that a happy workforce will assist a great deal in the positive translation of the organization’s mission and vision.
Ot is on this note, that the current Management considered the review of the conditions of service of NIPOST staff as well as the recent release of promotion of the management cadre while that of other categories of staff is being conducted and would be released as soon as it is concluded.
All these are geared towards the repositioning of the organization for effective service delivery.
The management has also completed the auditing of the newly employed staff and has directed the gazetting as well as confirmation of their appointments in line with existing procedures of appointing officers in the civil service.
let me reiterate the commitment of NIPOST management in ensuring the success of government’s reform effort of the industry, especially the unbundling of organization into strategic companies which we believed would not only create job opportunities for Nigerians but would equally provide more revenue to the government to enable it carry out its functions effectively.
We will continue to explore various ways and means to make the postal industry in Nigeria a very important player and valuable partner in the development of the nation’s economy through its activities.