• Fails to pass ‘Postal Reform Bill’
By Emmanuel Okwuke – Senior IT. Correspondent
The failure or reluctance of the 6th and the outgoing 7th session of the National Assembly (NASS) to pass the ‘Postal Reform Bill’ placed before it about 10 years ago has left both industry operators and stakeholders puzzled. It has also raised doubts on the sincerity and credibility of the National Assembly members.
This was the general consensus among Courier Operators in Nigeria when they gathered in Lagos recently to x-ray the state of the industry. The operators passed a damning verdict on the NASS for the lukewarm attitude with which they had handled such a sensitive bill that has the capacity to transform the industry and make it globally competitive.
At the forum, the Association of Nigeria Courier Operators (ANCO), the umbrella body of all Courier Operators in Nigeria, attributed the dwindling fortunes of indigenous courier operators in recent years to absence of proper regulation and NASS’s refusal to pass the postal reform bill by the NASS.
Benefits of the bill
If passed, the bill will see the creation of Postal and Courier Service Commission. This Commission will be to the Postal and Courier Industry what the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is to the telecommunications sector, what National Agency for Foods, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is to the Pharmaceutical Industry and what Central Bank of Nigeria is to the banking industry among others.
The Commission is expected to bring sweeping reforms to the Postal Sector, strengthen the sector, encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs), discourage and eliminate sharp practices in the sector such price under-cutting and illegal operators and create a level playing field for operators in the sector.
The commission will also give Nigeria and the Postal sector the respect it deserves among global postal community as Nigeria remains one of the few countries across the globe that does not have an independent regulator for the sector even when smaller nations such as: Tanzania, Cote-D’ Ivoire and Ghana among others, have very vibrant regulators.
Lamentations of ANCO
The President of the Association, Mr. Siyanbola Oladapo, at the forum, stated that the refusal to pass the bill by the 6th and now the 7th Legislative Assembly that is winding down its activities has retarded the growth of the industry. He lamented that the bill was first presented as a private sector bill and later as an executive bill by the Jonathan administration yet the National Assembly refused to pass the bill.
The ANCO President regretted that out of the 293 registered Courier Companies according to records obtained from the Courier Regulatory Department (CRD) of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), only 80 can be said to be active.
He listed other challenges inhibiting the growth of the sector to include: lack of due regulation channel, inimical activities of Local Government employees on Nigerian roads, lack of understanding of the importance of courier operations, bad roads and failure of the Federal Government to understand the viability of the courier sector among many others.
ANCO craves for reforms in the postal sector
Mr. Oladapo noted that the demand for reforms in the postal sub-sector has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s policy formulation. “The department of Post and Telecommunication (P&T) was split during the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari in 1985. From the split emerged the NITEL and NIPOST. Since the split, the telecommunications sector has undergone several reforms culminating in tremendous investment and success of the sector especially with the advent of the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM).
He added that, “It is remarkable that the boost in the sector would not have been possible without the role of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), a body created by the Federal Government to regulate the telecoms sector. It is therefore regrettable that NIPOST and indeed the entire postal sector have remained without noticeable reforms since the split from P&T. The lack of reform in NIPOST has affected negatively the entire postal sector including the private Courier Operators”.
The ANCO President maintained that the CRD, being a unit of NIPOST without the required independence as is the case with NCC, does not have the necessary executive and regulatory powers to regulate, transform and protect the postal sector.
He noted that ANCO as a body of Courier Operators in Nigeria has been demanding for the creation of a Postal and Courier Service Commission since the first Courier Summit in 2004.
Mr. Oladapo wondered why it was taking such a long time to establish a regulatory body for the sector in Nigeria, when smaller countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania all have independent regulators in their countries.
Immense opportunities in the sector
The immediate Past President of the Association, Mr. Toyin Olufade in his contribution, said if the sector is well harnessed, it is capable of creating 200,000 jobs, thus boosting the nation’s economy.
He regretted that today, the major focus in the society and even among those in government is Information Technology (IT). He maintained that IT cannot work in isolation as IT needs the courier sector to make the necessary impact.
He noted that today, the Universal Postal Union is very pro-active about the reforms in the postal sector as it is advocating for the commercialization of the sector. He lamented that Ghana is far more pro-active than Nigeria as in its postal sector reforms and Nigeria seems to be 10 years behind them.
General Secretary, ANCO, Mr. Okey Uba, said the Courier sector in Nigeria is one aspect of business that has been neglected over the years. He noted that if well harnessed, the sector can be the biggest market for logistics in Africa. “We need to diversify, we need to open up the sector for new entrants and more participation,” he said.
On her part, the Vice President of ANCO, Mrs. Lara Okuneye said there are immense opportunities in the Courier sector. However, because strong legal framework is absent, it has become an all comers affair. She appealed to the 7th Legislative Assembly to help pass the postal Reform Bill so the industry can be vibrant as is obtainable in other countries.
The menace of Local Government revenue collectors
The Publicity Secretary, ANCO, Mr. Tony Ade Ojo said for the Courier Sector to grow and blossom, there must be a conducive business environment, that way, operators can remain in business, and maximise profit.
He appealed to those in authority to call the 774 Local Government areas revenue collectors, particularly those in the South South to order. A situation where operators are made to buy all manner of stickers and pay all sorts of levies and they are delayed for long hours even after they have identified themselves as courier operators is not good for the industry. These defeats the purpose of an industry which trade mark is supposed to be speed and prompt delivery.
Source : Independent