By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) – The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is being reformed to strengthen and reposition it in order to undertake e-commerce and e-government services, as a strategic response to technological challenges that have affected mail services globally, according to Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications.
Shittu, who stated this at a meeting with the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex A. Okoh, in his office on Thursday, said that despite the deteriorating state of NIPOST, it is still viable and has the infrastructure and personnel to provide essential services to Nigerians.
He pledged support for BPE’s reform process in NIPOST and expressed optimism that with the large network of NIPOST offices throughout the 774 Local Government Areas in the federation, the establishment of a Postal Bank out of the present NIPOST will bring financial inclusiveness to unbanked Nigerians in the rural areas since conventional banks are not keen on establishing branches in these areas because of poor returns.
Shittu regretted the state of some NIPOST landed assets, which he said are laying fallow and being encroached upon by speculators. He suggested that an unbundled NIPOST could establish a property development company to lease out the land to investors; as well as the fleet of NIPOST vehicles that could be used to establish a transport company for haulage and parcel delivery services, given their low utilization capacity occasioned by declining mail services in the country.
Earlier, the Director General of BPE, Mr. Alex A. Okoh, said that the purpose of the visit is to inform the minister of the planned partial commercialization of NIPOST in line with the Bureau’s mandate.
He explained that the lull in the transaction was a result of the delay in the inauguration of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) “but with its inauguration, it is now apt to develop a strategy to drive the transaction”.
Okoh said the Bureau has reviewed the initial works done on the modernization and commercialisation of the enterprise with a view to adopting a credible process and that the transaction would be domiciled in the Bureau which is statutorily empowered to drive the process.
While assuring the Minister of a speedy transaction process that will usher in a new NIPOST for the benefit of Nigerians, Okoh called for synergy in order to achieve this goal, noting that the Minister would head the Steering Committee for the transaction, while the Project Delivery Team (PDT) would comprise staff of the Bureau, the ministry and other relevant stakeholders.
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