By Stanley Iwuoha
All may not have been heard about the power play that robbed the Nigerian Post Service, NIPOST its statuary duty of collecting Stamp Duty revenue for federal government.
Industry experts have continued to express disbelieve over the rationale that led to the authorisation of FIRS to collect Stamp Duty by the Federal Executive Council.
The agency has been in recent times entangled in a battle of wit with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, the agency that substituted NIPOST in collecting the revenue.
But in his usual characteristics, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has faulted the substitution of NIPOST with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS in the collection of Stamp Duty, describing it as an injustice to the Post that must be fought until it is reversed.
The Minister made the observation at the weekend while marking the 2020 World Post day in Abuja.
Pantami said the injustice meted out to NIPOST only came to his notice after the final decision had been taken but promised to fight the injustice until the situation is reversed to status-que.
‘‘I came to know what happened to stamp duty when the final decision had been taken, the same with the chair Senate committee. She was not aware and she was in the National Assembly. Sometimes, some chief executives fail to inform you at the right time to take decision.
‘‘I was outside the country when it happened, though I reached out to the president of the Senate at that time but it was absolutely late. Sometimes, when your CEO fails to notify about certain things, this is what usually happen. Otherwise this bill was initiated by NIPOST not by any other institution of government, it was taken to National Assembly by NIPOST.
‘‘At the initial stage, we got the endorsement of the minister of finance supervising the institution collecting tax and I have a copy of the letter and she officially endorsed NIPOST to collect stamps duties. But when NIPOST started the process, they collected some money, then other tax collectors came and along the process. They went and hijacked the process before the final decision and the name of NIPOST was substituted with another.
‘‘On this I personally wrote a letter to Mr. President over five times and I engaged my boss President Buhari three times physically on this. I raised the issue on Federal Executive Chamber at least four times and I have written a letter to minister of finance at least three times.
‘‘We will continue to fight for the impression. I hate injustice and I don’t tolerate injustice. I assume you we will fight for you legally until the injustice is done.’’
On the ongoing NIPOST reform, the Minister said the post had already been unbundled into three units and is only waiting for approval of take off fund.
‘‘Our Postal service is in the verge of being transformed. As I came into office, I realize the challenges facing NIPOST were higher than any other Parastatal under the ministry of communication and digital economy.
‘‘Firstly because of their staff capacity is more than 12, 800 staff. Secondly, they exist in each and every local government meaning they have offices in 774 places, thirdly there is no government support when it comes to budget , more over NIPOST have been made to generate itself .
Looking at the dilapidated nature of the structures in the country, I realize immediately that we have lot of challenges to tackle. One of the initiative we came up with was giving my approval to unbundle the NIPOST.
‘‘I personally approved the establishment of thee branches under NIPOST; NIPOST Transport and logistics company, NIPOST property Company and NIPOST micro finance Bank. So far, two of this company have started and we are in touch with Mr. President on how to get the take off grant to start their activities.’’
While implementing the reforms, Pantami said the focus is to create a regulator and make operators fully independent in line with the global best practice based on modern based practice.
‘‘For me, operators should be independent from regulator but in NIPOST what has been inherited is the same institution regulates and operate. This is contrary to global best practices. Hence, with the support of our leaders and the National Assembly, particularly the chairman of our committee, we are working on a NIPOST reform bill which would create regulator.’’
Ealier in is address, the Post master General of NIPOST, Dr. Ismail Adebayo Adewusi said the NIPOST is determined to ensuring the success of Government’s reform effort of the Postal Industry, especially the unbundling of organization into strategic companies which it 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.
He assured that the Post would 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.
This year’s World Post Day celebration marks the 146th anniversary of the creation of the Universal Postal Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations founded on October 9, 1874.
World Post Day is a day set aside to celebrate the establishment of the union.
The day also represents 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.
High point of the programmes was the public presentation of the compendium of Nigerian Postage stamps 1914-2014, performed by the Minister.