What Adepoju may do to reposition NIPOST

“Amazon would not be the $995 billion company it is today without the US Postal Service. 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”. – Jeff Bezos, in an interview with the “CBS Evening News” on Monday, July 16, 2019.

Arising from the above statement credited to the second richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, many deductions can be made. The first deduction from his comment is that US Postal Service plays a crucial role in making him stupendously rich. A further interrogation of Jeff’s statement in question shows that transportation network is an integral part of goods delivery in any economic system and US Postal Service provides that. It also shows that digital economy can only make sense when there is infrastructure to drive it. In this case, US Postal Service provides the infrastructure Amazon, a digital platform needs to function. This clearly shows that digital economy agenda of federal government can only make sense if Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) is functioning effectively and efficiently.

The story of NIPOST has been that of government abandonment and neglect for a long time now. Although, governments in the past tried to the extent they can, to inject life into the agency, with little success. But one big advantage NIPOST is having today is for the first time in many years; the agency is blessed with a Minister who is passionate about the Post and ready to anything within his power to see that the agency up and doing. Professor Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami, had on many occasions went out of his way to defend the interest of NIPOST when the agency’s function was taken away.

Barrister Meimuna Yahaya Abubakar-led NIPOST board of Directors is also up and doing in terms of complementing the effort of Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in this regard. So, what Hon Adepoju Adeyemi Sunday-led NIPOST should do right away is to think out of the box and come out with workable strategy that will reposition the agency for revenue generation and employment. This writer believes that any progressive ideas that will transform NIPOST will receive the blessing and support of Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy as well as the Board of Directors, and by extension, presidency support and action.

The first task before him as a transition PMG, the one to be in office when a new president will be inaugurated on May 29, 2023, is to make the welfare of NIPOST workers a priority. He must not joke with motivation of the agency’s staff. And as a professional accountant, Hon Adepoju knows what motivation can do to NIPOST’s overall performance and profitability. Perhaps, Napoleon Bonaparte knew the wonderful importance of motivation when he said, “morale is to the physical as 3 is to 1”. In this instance, motivated staff of NIPOST will work three times more than before. This underscores the importance of motivation in workplace.

Based on current reality in Nigeria of today, citizens believe NIPOST is almost a dead agency. And the reason behind this line of thought is that Internet and Communication Technology (ICT) has eliminated conventional letter writing as Nigeria can communicate with their love ones via text massages in real time. In fact, technological advancement has made communication easy and cheap, this has eaten deep into NIPOST’s revenue base. Arising from this obvious technological disruption, the new Post Master General/CEO of NIPOST will have to come up with innovative strategies to keep the agency afloat. To do this, Hon Adepoju must seek monopoly status for NIPOST from federal government in some of its operation.

Since NIPOST operations also expands to furniture making, experts have estimated that if the federal government can issue executive order that gives NIPOST the sole monopoly in supply of furniture to Ministries, Agencies, MDAs and Parastatals of FG, it will go a long way in repositioning the agency for profitability and employment generation. On rough estimate, NIPOST could make between N7 to N10 billion yearly from supply of furniture to these FG’s establishments. This will shore up the revenue base of NIPOST. Some experts have reasoned that President Joe Biden’s bold executive order on “made in America” goods and services upon assuming office in 2020, added value to the economy of US.

It could be recall that on January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden issued the said executive order. This is how Reuters reported the event: “President Joe Biden vowed on Monday to leverage the purchasing power of the U.S. government, the world’s biggest single buyer of goods and services, to strengthen domestic manufacturing and create markets for new technologies. The Democratic president signed an executive order aimed at closing loopholes in existing “Buy American” provisions, which apply to about a third of the $600 billion in goods and services the federal government buys each year. The order will make any waivers more transparent and create a senior White House role to oversee the process.

To underscore the seriousness Biden’s administration attaches to “Buy American” goods and services campaign, here is what Biden said before signing the executive order:– “I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden told reporters before signing the order. “American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War Two and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now.” Further, Biden has this to say: –“America can’t sit on the sidelines in the race to the future. Our competitors aren’t waiting,” Biden said. “To ensure the future is made in America, we need to win not just the jobs of today, but the jobs and industries of tomorrow.” The most striking issue in the executive order was the report that (a senior White House role to oversee the process) will be created. This angle may be explored by FG if it intends to give monopoly status to NIPOST in the area of furniture production.

Following America’s footpath, FG can make executive order on “Made in Nigeria” furniture through NIPOST. Also, Consequential directive may also be required from SGF to the effect that in any federal government employment advertisement, interested applicants must in addition to online application; also send hand written application by Post in their localities, preferably. This will mean that both soft and hard copies of applicants’ files are maintained. It will also give employers idea about the real intellectual capacity of applicants. NIPOST, on the other hand, would have through stamp sales, attract revenue to federal government. This method of application for employment will awaken the consciousness of Nigerians on the importance of the Post. Each time agencies of federal government establishments like the Police, Army Navy etc, embark on recruitment exercise, millions of Nigerians apply. There is no doubt that NIPOST can generate revenue via N50 stamp, if the option of letter writing is introduced in addition to online application.

Another important step Honourable Adepoju Adeyemi Sunday may need to take in his effort at repositioning NIPOST is to establish quick response to NIPOST’s customers’ complaint unit. This unit should be manned by someone he can trust. His role will include liaising with mail security departments of NIPOST in the states and FCT. This system of monitoring and responding to complaints from customers will make the agency to be proactive in solving complaints from customers, instead of reacting when complaint occurs. In this era of social media where negative information spread like wide fire, Hon Adepoju-led NIPOST will do well to avoid it because the relationship between Nigerians and NIPOST should be anchored on Trust. And negative news can rapture Trust beyond repair.

NIPOST under Hon Adepoju may need to encourage those online supermarkets that make use of the agency’s infrastructure to acknowledge that NIPOST backbone has benefited them in conveying goods to their customers across Nigeria. If Jeff Bezos could acknowledge the strategic role US Postal Service is playing for Amazon, by this comment: “I didn’t have to build a transportation network to deliver the packages, “it existed: it was called the Post Office”, I don’t see reason why those platforms in Nigeria should not do same here. The new PMG can as well establish a periodic interactive meeting with former PMGs of NIPOST. The meeting will afford the PMG the opportunity to tap into the experience of those former PMGs for the progress of NIPOST.

Above all, Hon Adepoju will need to work on the staff of NIPOST in the area of focusing their attention on the core responsibility of the agency. NIPOST is probably the only revenue generating agency that its PMG doubles as CEO. What this means is that the agency is in business and so the staff in the establishment should think act smartly in that direction. To this end, exposing them to this reality requires conscious training and capacity building. Good enough, the PMG/CEO is a chartered Accountant who understands the importance of capacity building towards enhancing profitability. This writer was privileged to interact with some staff of NIPOST on ways and strategies to drive traffic (attract Nigerians) to NIPOST, in the past, but the suggestion put forward was not implemented. This should not be allowed to continue.

Oraetoka, information management consultant and researcher, writes from Abuja via [email protected] 08056031187, 09039094636