By Emeka Oraetoka
(I’ll fight injustice against NIPOST until reversed- Pantami, Vanguard newspaper, October 10, 2020)
Unlike past supervising Ministers, Professor Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has shown through action that NIPOST is not an orphan and should be seen as a prime revenue generating agency for the Federal Government of Nigeria. Despite heading Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, which is championing Federal Government’s Digital Economy, Professor Pantami appears to know that the greatness of a nation is also measured by the functionality of its Postal Service. Advanced countries like, USA, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, China, Japan, South Africa, just to mention but few, are countries with probably 100% internet penetration, yet, their Postal Service is world class. The above statement from Professor Pantami says it all.
Without US Postal Service, the world may not be counting Jeff Bezos as the richest man today. Hear what Jeff Bezos said about US Postal Service: “Amazon would not be the $995 billion company it is today without the US Postal Service. In an interview with the “CBS Evening News” on Monday, July 16, 2019, Bezos said the Postal Service gave Amazon a huge helping hand from the outset, as the online retailer did not have to invest in a delivery network. “I didn’t have to build a transportation network to deliver the packages, “it existed: it was called the Post Office”.
It was probably Professor Pantami’s deep and penetrating position on why NIPOST should be allowed to collect Stamp Duty on behalf of the Federal Government, just like Customs collects Duties on behalf of the Government that tilted the argument of stamp duty collection in favour of NIPOST. It will be recalled that Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was at loggerhead with NIPOST over which agency has the right to N50 Transaction Authentication Stamp, known as Stamp Duty, before the matter was finally resolved in favour of NIPOST. Were it not for Professor Pantami’s principled stand on the right of NIPOST, the agency was on the verge of losing its right to adhesive stamp to FIRS.
This writer was pleasantly surprised at Professor Pantami’s passion for NIPOST, considering the digital economy drive of Federal Government under his ministry. I had expected that since most of his predecessors in Communication ministry were in the habit of leaving embattled NIPOST to its fate, but he has clearly taken a different position from his predecessors’. If a Professor of Cyber Security, who has successfully engineered NIN-SIM Card Synchronization which has revolutionized Data Base Management in Nigeria; can be so passionate about NIPOST, he certainly knows the linkage between the Postal Service and ICT. This linkage was graphically captured above by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos. There is no doubt that hence forth, Data from NBC will be almost 100% accurate because of reliable Data Management System, made possible by Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
Hear vintage Professor Pantami on the occasion of the launching of the Fifty (50) Naira Revenue Stamp duty for the authentication of lawful transactions in Nigeria: “We thank God that we were victorious at the end of the day on the issue of who collects stamp duty. “I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and all stakeholders for their immense support to the Ministry and NIPOST.
“The unveiling of the N50 revenue stamp is the beginning of the transformation of NIPOST. “We have recorded modest achievement in NIPOST that will increase its revenue and raise monies for other sectors of the Nigerian economy. “Part of transforming NIPOST in the pipeline is to unbundle NIPOST. This includes NIPOST Property development Company; this is a company that will bring all the NIPOST Properties together and develop them and get general revenue from them.
“We also have in mind the Transport and Logistics Company, a Courier Service and Microfinance Bank. “We will do the best we can before the year ends to ensure that a lot have been achieved,”
Nothing could be more reassuring to NIPOST than having Professor Pantami as the Minister supervising its activity. He has singlehandedly championed the cause of the Agency in Nigeria. And because of the enormous goodwill he has purchased in Nigeria, his view on how NIPOST should be transformed, attracts the support of both the Executive and Legislative arms of government. The result is surely looking good for the Agency in terms of providing revenue for other sectors of the economy.
Clearly, the repositioning and transformation of NIPOST towards providing critical platform for Digital Economy drive of FG, has just began. Professor Pantami-led Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has shown guidance and direction, more effort is still needed in terms of funding the Post, in order for Nigerians to leverage the vast network of Postal outlets for e-commercial activity.
(Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Consultant & Researcher Wrote in from Abuja. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, GSM: 08056031187)