By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami says the Nigerian Postal Service has overcome its most difficult challenges as better days lie ahead of the agency.
The minister spoke on Thursday at the unveiling ceremony of 60th Independence Anniversary Commemorative Stamps in Abuja.
He noted that the significance of the stamps are deeply rooted in Nigeria’s national history as an independent nation.
He said that part of the major challenges that faced NIPOST was that of finance, part of which was the lost of Stamp Duty collection to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.
He expressed delight that the battle had finally been won by the NIPOST which to him was a major achievement for the agency.
According to him, the ministry worked very hard following several consultations with relevant stakeholders leading to the recognition of NIPOST as the official producer and collector of Stamp Duty by the Financial Act 2020.
“The stamps bring to life, our founding fathers and the roles they played birthing our independence from our colonial masters. This set of stamps illustrate the fact that we can achieve greater success, when we are united, regardless of our diverse ethno-cultural and religious differences.
‘‘The stamp had since been produced but not unveiled due to some constraints. We need to appreciate the beauty of our diversity as a country.
“Our diversity is supposed to be a source of our strength and not weakness, the source of our unity and not disunity.
‘‘This is not a celebration but also reflection and appreciation of our diversity as a nation. NIPOST has been having many challenges and constraints especially with regards to regulatory policies and financing.
‘‘We have been working on the transformation of NIPOST and a lot has been achieved. We have been battling with the issue of Stamp Duty with other government institutions and we are working on resolving it.
“For the first time, the Finance Act 2020 recognized NIPOST as the producer in Nigeria and that it should be used in authentication and validation of official documents. It is a clear indication that our efforts have yielded results
‘‘Thanked President Buhari for listening to the complaints of the Ministry and letters sent to him asking for his intervention. I Commend the National Assembly for standing with them during the struggle and giving all the necessary supports required to ensure that justice is done for NIPOST.
“I’m glad that we are here today to unveil and launch the stamp. However, the stamp has been produced since but due to some constraints we couldn’t converge here for the celebration.
“It is always better late than never, because of this we are here to celebrate and not only to celebrate but to reflect and appreciate the beauty of our diversity as a country.”
“To ensure that NIPOST generates revenue for the federal government, federal government has approved the establishment of ICT park. In the ICT park, we plan to establish ICT and NIPOST Museum that will house all our transformation history.
‘‘ICT sector pulled Nigeria from recession earlier than expected, it is the fastest growing sector of the economy. If sum up the growth rate of Agriculture and five other sectors, together growth rate was below the ICT growth rate,’’ he added.
AS part of efforts to reposition NIPOST, the minister said the ministry is at the final stage of unbundling the Post to different companies so as to enable it operate as a regulator.
‘‘We are 90% done with the Rules making Process of NIPOST. We are at the final stage of unbundling NIPOST. We also expect that NIPOST Micro Finance bank will follow.
‘‘I am discussing with the President on how to rehabilitate all the NIPOST Offices across the country. We are working on the document to be presented to the Federal executive Counsel, FEC to be a revenue-generating agency.
In her goodwill message, the Chairman, NIPOST Governing Board, Barr. Maimuna Abubakar said Nigeria as a country is amply blessed with historical evidence of great works of arts, cultural monuments and features that help in the transmission of cultural heritage from one generation to another.
‘‘The Postal Industry from time immemorial has fostered the use of postage stamp as a veritable medium for naturing of culture.
‘‘ Many of such have been reflected on Nigerian postal stamps, most especially in colonial and post-colonial Nigeria.
“A strong Nigeria must be a cultural Nigeria and NIPOST has a role to play in advancing this by marking events such as this one.
‘‘The importance of stamps duty cannot be overemphasised in providing information, education and revenue as well as a source of entertainment. The economic and social value of Postage Stamp cut across the young and old, as well as the rich and poor. In addition, Stamps serve as excellent gift items, memento or memorabilia.’’
Earlier in his address, the Post master General of NIPOST, Adebayo Ismail Adewusi while expressing gratitude to the minister assured that the ongoing reform in the agency would reposition NIPOST as a revenue generation organisation.