By Ahmadu Azizi
Workers of the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), in Abuja on Friday protested against the unbundling of postal agency in secrecy , alleging that the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy are indirectly sealing NIPOST and its properties to their cronies.
Converged at the gate of the corporate headquarters of NIPOST in Abuja, the workers led by the leadership of two labour unions: the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) and the National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE) workers of the agency, told newsmen that the protest was staged to alert President Buhari, relevant stakeholders as well Nigerians at large the plans of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to tactically extinct NIPOST under the guise of reform/commercialization.
Addressing journalists, SSASCGOC General Secretary, Comrade Ayo Olorunfemi, said; “BPE began the process of commercialisation in the Nigerian Postal Service with the assurance of making NIPOST a more service-oriented and profit-driven Organization. The proposed reform according to the BPE will not only improve the traditional services of NIPOST but will also bring about new revenue streams for the Organization, which will in turn impact greatly the morale and welfare of staffers.
“In the year 2021, it became so glaring that the shrewd plan of the BPE, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE), the Federal Ministry of Finance and other self-centred individuals involved in this process was to tactically reap NIPOST of its assets and leave the Organization high and dry‘ as against the promised growth and improvement. Hence, every aspect of the proposed reform/ commercialization has been shrewd in utmost secrecy.”
Among the burning issues the protesters raised was that the composition of the Board of Directors of the companies in charge of the agency clearly shows that NIPOST as an entity has no influence or stake in the subsidiaries.
“Section C of the objects for which the NIPOST Properties & Development Company Limited is established clearly states that the Company can SELL, lease or exchange the assets of NIPOST, a provision that empowers the company to sell off NIPOST assets if they so desire.
“The proposed plan by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, ,Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) to share/hand over NIPOST properties to these companies is not necessary, as there is no basis for asset sharing since the said subsidiaries are owned by NIPOST as claimed by BPE.
“The recruitment of Management staff of these companies was carried out without considering the current Management staff of NIPOST who are experienced in this sector and this Management is a separate entity from NIPOST Management as it neither report to the PMG nor form part of NIPOST top Management.
“The salaries of the Management staff of these Companies far outweigh the salaries of top Management of NIPOST, a disparity that is alarming, whereas the mid-level staff of these companies are placed on the NIPOST condition of service and salary.
“The Honourable Minister, BPE and all those involved in this reform process have not made available any document or blueprint on the implementation plan of this process.
“The shareholdings of these Companies as shown on CAC registration document are individuals, which raises a strong concern on whether or not NIPOST is actualIy the owner of the companies as claimed by BPE and there is no caveat anywhere stating that these individuals are holding the shares in trust for NIPOST.” The unions explained.
The worker therefore demand that “thd NIPOST reform is an affront against the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially the NIPOST Act.
“That the structure and process ofthe reform are not in any way in tandem with a reform of this nature as witnessed in other sectors that have undergone similar reforms, as this process is clearly an attempt to kill and bury the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and throw our members into the labour market.
“That NIPOST in the last 15 years has not been receiving any form of capital funding from the Federal Government and instead of releasing funds to strengthen this critical national infrastructure of government, funds are being diverted to the subsidiaries, which are being run and managed by a few individuals for their self-gains.
“While we are not opposed to reforms, we strongly insist that reforms are meant to strengthen institutions for higher productivity so as to meet up with deliverables as set out in the enabling law. We shall vehemently resist any attempt at weakening further the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
“We are aware that the BPE is a:lready engaging consultants to privately go around the country to audit NIPOST assets instead of the team constituted by the Honourable Minister.
“We are therefore calling on the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), the DirectorGeneral of BPE, the Chairperson NIPOST Governing Board, the PostmasterGeneral/CEO and others involved in this reform process to suspend the take-off of the subsidiaries and critically examine the concerns raised above with a view to addressing these anomalies.
“We hereby reiterate our commitment to the advancement of the course of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the welfare of our teeming members nationwide.”