Nigeria is planning to restructure and commercialise the operations of its postal service, NIPOST, an ex-minister has said.
The government also plans to establish micro-finance banks in all the 774 local government areas of the country through NIPOST.
Adebayo Shittu, ex-minister of communications, said the microfinance bank is one of the six companies expected to break out from the restructuring and commercialisation of NIPOST. It is also expected to reduce the number of financially excluded persons, he said. Only about 40 per cent of adult Nigerians owned bank accounts as of 2017, according to the World Bank.
The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is a government-owned and operated corporation responsible for providing postal services in Nigeria. It has more than 20,000 employees and runs more than 5,000 post offices.
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Shittu said the government has decided to commercialise NIPOST, ”which will, in turn, give Nigerians six new companies”.
Mr Shittu said through the NIPOST microfinance banks which would have structures in the 774 local governments, banking services will be extended to all the under-banked and unbanked communities across the country.
“There are people who think what money do I have to keep in the bank? Of course, they may not have money to keep in the bank, but there may also be people who think that having microfinance bank, which is funded by the government in that locality will provide them with an opportunity to take a loan of (N)50,000 to do small business,” he said
He noted that at the advent the Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM), operations in Nigeria, NIPOST became stalled. ”People no longer require the services of NIPOST as before since they could easily reach out to their loved ones over the phone.
“We thought that we needed to do several things to make NIPOST more relevant to Nigerians by providing new services and consequently also providing new jobs and also ensuring that we have a whole lot of business-related and income generating services across the board.”
Six new firms
“So, by the grace of God, we would have a NIPOST Microfinance Bank, we would be having a NIPOST Property and Developing Company, a NIPOST transport and logistics company, a NIPOST e-commerce company and a NIPOST e-government services company apart from the NIPOST digital services company,’’ the ex-official said.
He also said when all the companies are set up; employment would be derived.
Mr Shittu said with the existence of logistic companies like DHL, FedEx and the rest, ”it is still positive that through the NIPOST transport and logistics company, income will still be generated”.
He said the government intends to operate ”just like in the advanced countries where logistics companies are not allowed to take mails to the rural areas”.
“In the UK, a DHL company will never be allowed to take mails to rural areas. When they bring mails from outside, they deliver it to the post office there who will do the internal distribution and so we would adopt that too here such that we would have a bite as to the income they generate,” he said
He also said e-commerce had become a booming business and ”yet many more people are still not yet connected to that form of business, so they feel the need for NIPOST e-commerce services that will make good use of the NIPOST transport and logistics services”.
He said anyone who needs an international passport, usually travels miles because passport agencies are only in the states’ capitals.
”In some cases, these people have to do the trip twice or thrice as there maybe be a complaint of no passport booklet or light.
”To cut the cost of travelling and also the risks involved, these services would be made available in the local post offices where you simply register online for the passport, fill and pay online while it is processed and sent to you through NIPOST e-government or e-commerce services.
“Since virtually every local government has a NIPOST structure, we could have some sort of banking and insurance service at the very local level in the rural. There are excess lands wasting away; often, we have the lands in well-located areas.
“Apart from the NIPOST buildings, we feel we can take an inventory of the lands, make them available for property developers to turn office complex, event centre, so we have the NIPOST property and development company,” he said.
He said KPMG, a consulting firm, will be involved in the unbundling of NIPOST. He also said the operations has begun and would continue whether or not he returns as communications minister.