The Senate yesterday took steps to reform moribund postal services in the country. The upper chamber said that aggressive reform of the postal sector was the way to go in order to reinvigorate the once vibrant postal services in the country. A bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Postal Service Act 2004 was exhaustively debated and passed for second reading.
Senator Gilbert Nnaji who led debate the Nigerian Postal Bill seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the Nigerian Postal Industry, by creating an effective, impartial and independent regulatory authority.
Nnaji noted that it is proposed as a catalyst to encourage local and foreign investment in the Nigerian postal industry, particularly given the innovative services and practices in the industry in recent times.
He added that the bill also seeks to engender international best practices in the industry.
Nnaji said, “It is not an amendment, but a repeal of the existing NIPOST Act to re-enact a new legislation to cater for the far reaching reforms in the postal industry which would lead to the establishment of the Nigerian Postal Services Commission.”
On the general principles of the bill, Nnaji who is also Chairman of Committee on Communications posited that “the Bill is proposed as a catalyst to facilitate the reform of the postal industry.
“It provides for a governing Board and a Commission to formulate postal industry policy with clear objectives on role of the postal sector in the national economy. The Bill provides for the Staff of the Commission to be headed by a Director-General in addition to other key personnel. It makes financial provisions for the commission, creates power to grant licences, conditions of the licence renewal and revocation.
“Sundry powers are also provided for the effective regulation of the industry in addition to the administration of post code system, tariff regulation and maintenance of technical standards”.
He described as conflicting the present status of the NIPOST as an operator and a regulator at the same time.
The Bill, he said, “splits up the dual roles of policy maker, independent regulator and industry operator which NIPOST currently enjoys.”
“Whereas the NIPOST is to solely retain the role of industry regulator to ensure level playing field, its existing commercial arm would be incorporated as a limited liability company to operate in the industry independent of NIPOST, in addition to other operators.
“This split would facilitate a radical change in the business culture of the successor company of the commercialized arm of the NIPOST. And this is expected to cause an extensive change in the management of the successor company, injection of investment fund and attraction of the skilled personnel in the industry”.
Nnaji said that“the Bill provides the framework for the phased liberalization of the postal market to encourage increased private sector participation and service diversification based on pre-defined milestones of NIPOST.
“The Bill will make the postal sector commercially viable, and provide a safe and efficient postal service that is sustainable and keeps pace with development in the rest of the world.
“The Bill would ensure fair competition in the industry as it seeks to encourage Nigerians to own, control and manage postal organizations. It offers a basis for the protection of rights and interests of service providers and consumers.
“And encourage the development of postal manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy and also encourage effective research and development effort by all postal industry practitioners”.
“It is however instructive that “the Bill does not have financial implication as the management structure, infrastructural facilities and assets of the NIPOST would form the nucleus of the Commission with subsequent appointments made pursuant to the provisions of the Bill.”