By PERPETUA ONUEGBU
Unarguably, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has been contending with some challenges involving the prevalence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), e-commerce and operating on mono-product, among others, in recent times.
Perceptive observers have noted that the challenges have affected the service so much so that its services are nearly considered irrelevant.
They advised that addressing these challenges involves pragmatic approach at repositioning NIPOST for relevance and national growth.
In view of this, Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu promised that the present administration would enhance postal services in the country and leverage on ICT to boost NIPOST’s relevance to national growth.
He observed that although similar companies were competing with NIPOST in various aspects of the postal market, the service had prospect for robust contributions to national development.
According to the minister, the Nigerian Postal Service Act of 1992 gives exclusive rights of mail handling to NIPOST for all postal articles below 500 grammes.
He, however, observed that there were more than 200 active courier companies legally licensed and many more illegally operators in the postal sector.
To restore the public confidence in the country’s postal system and ensure that the service delivers on its statutory obligations, he noted that the present administration had prepared reform in the sector to present an efficient NIPOST.
Part of the steps at repositioning the sector according to Mr Bisi Adegbuyi, Post Master-General NIPOST, is the extensive network penetration into rural areas and variety of services.
He said that NIPOST had been involved in diversification plan of the government and it had drawn a four-year corporate strategic plan from 2017 to 2020.
According to Adegbuyi, one of such strategy is the National Addressing System on which NIPOST is partnering with Nigeria Identity Management Commission, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Communications Commission and some banks.
He noted that the transformation of NIPOST to become ICT compliant was imperative for successful transition to knowledge-based economy.
He said further that NIPOST would build Digital Addressing System and provide Address Verification System to bridge addressing gap.
He also observed that bridging the gap would provide effective addressing system that would be all inclusive taking into account the socio-economic indices and the security needs of the country.
“Government has come up with an architecture that will ensure that we know where everybody lives.
“The service is capable of assisting us in the fight against terrorism because terrorists are not spirits, they live somewhere.
“So, if we know where they live by virtue of the technology we are going to deplore, it simply means we know where you are and you cannot cause us any harm,’’ he said.
The NIPOST boss said that the organisation was mindful of the importance of addressing in the quest for national development and it was ready to implement the project.
“Permit me to quote the World Bank in 2005 when it said that street addressing is the critical medium for ensuring that citizens have access to their civic rights and responsibilities.
“Apart from that, people tend to look at addresses from the angle of mail delivery; that is just an integral part of it; addressing has grown to become a very critical national infrastructure.
“Without addressing, you can’t do proper planning, even management of your security and identity infrastructure is also very important.
“Nigeria Immigration Service that is supposed to issue passport for you must know where you live.
“Corporate Affairs Commission that registers companies in Nigeria must also know the addresses of the promoters of the companies’’, he said.
Adegbuyi said that NIPOST was expected to come up with the digital addressing system that would aid it in discharging its statutory responsibility of mail delivery.
“We have embarked on evolving technologies using the open location code to divide Nigeria into 330 billion, three-metres-by-three-metres square grade, with each grade having a unique address,’’ he explained.
Supporting Adegbuyi’s view, minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said that the establishment of a well-articulated National Addressing System would serve as a strategy for national planning and development.
“The National Addressing System is the key to e-Commerce, e-Finance, e-Navigation, modern postal services and essential tool for national infrastructure as well as the socio-economic development of a country.
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