SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNICATIONS, TRANSPORT AND CORPORATIONS (SSACTAC)
NATIONAL UNION OF POSTAL AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS EMPLOYEES (NUPTE)
OUR POSITION ON THE POSTAL SECTOR REFORM BILL:
The Senior Staff Association of Communication, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC), a recognized Trade Union Body, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), organizing senior workers in the Communications and Transport sectors of the Nigerian economy as well as certain Statutory Corporations.
The National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees (NUPTE) is also a recognized trade union body, an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), organizing workers in the Postal and Telecommunications sectors of the economy.
Both are the recognized in-house trade union bodies organizing the entire workforce in the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST)
1.2 By this reason, both are high profile stakeholder in the Nigerian Postal Sector. It is therefore not unexpected that the Association has been involved at various levels on its own and with other concerned parties like the Federal Government appointed consultants on reforms in the sector. Netherpost Consultancy Services, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) which is the Secretariat of the National Council on Privatization and the international body on Postal matters, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) among others. Our aim in all these relationships is to help put in place the proper legislation to drive the Nigerian Postal sector efficiently after the necessary reforms.
1.3 The origin of what is today the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) dates back to the time of the colonial era in what is today Nigeria. Over the years, the main functions of the Postal Service have remained the same with comparatively little or no sophistication in its development. The Nigerian Postal Service is yet to be provided with the necessary infrastructures to deliver its services efficiently in an environment with the added disadvantages of limiting and under-developed superstructures as the transport, power and information systems to mention but a few. In addition, it is involved in ill defined responsibilities including being an Operator and Regulator in Nigeria’s Postal sector at the same time. Both functions especially the latter are carried out under unclear regulations and guidelines leading to practices that abuse the rights of all stakeholders especially the consumer and the rise of unfavourable competition among organizations engaged in service delivery in the sector.
1.4 It is our belief that other stakeholders mean well for our great country like us. On our part, we have spent considerable time with experts and other concerned parties both internal and external bodies to enable us make sincere inputs into the Bill. These inputs are in line with internationally best acceptable guidelines and laid down practices in the Postal services sector by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) to which our country, Nigeria is a signatory. Hence, our position as elicited below is a result of our duty as concerned representatives of the workforce in this very strategic but often sidelined sector and our patriotic zeal to be part of the noble assignment to put in place the enabling laws to make Nigeria’s Postal Services sector deserving of a country that is not only the giant of Africa but striving hard towards being counted as among the first twenty (20) nations of the modern world by the year 2020.
The inputs as shown below are to make the sector meet the optimal expectations of all stakeholders.
PART 3 - ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GOVERNING BOARD AND ITS MEMBERS - SECTION ‘4’
2. The Board should consist of nine (9) and not seven (7) Commissioners. This is to make room for two (2) Commissioners to be drawn from the in-house Trade Unions/Membership of workers representatives in the regulatory body is a condition of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) which has been complied with by most member nations among which are the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany etc. This condition should be included as (e) in this portion.
PART 6 - FUNCTIONS OF THE MINISTER
Section ‘20’ (4):Instead of payments of relevant taxes to states and local governments at designated offices, all such payments should be made into a centralized account.
PART ‘7’ - LICENCES
Section ‘26’: Without disregard to the Commission’s power to modify issues on licences, there is need for a clause to specify the valid tenure of all licences issued by it.
PART ‘14’ - REGISTER
Section ‘52’ (1): The terms physical form and electronic media should be replaced by hard and soft copies respectively. Appropriate replacement of these terms where they occur in the entire Bill is also necessary as in Section ‘53’ (2).
PART ‘19’ - REVIEW OF DECISIONS
Section ‘72’ (2): Needs to be reframed as follows:
The decision or direction of the Commission that is the subject matter of an application for judicial review shall subsist and remain binding and valid until it is expressly reversed by an appropriate order of court or its final judgment.
PART ‘21’ - GENERAL COMPETITION PRACTICE
Section ‘74- 76’: The Commission should fix a minimum wage for workers in the Nigerian Postal sector. Postal Operators who fail to comply are to be regarded as indulging in anti-competition practices and brought to book in line with the available statutory provisions.
PART ‘22’ - TARIFF RATE REGULATION
Section ‘78’: Notwithstanding the provisions made under this section, the Commission as a Regulatory Board should set an agenda on corporate governance matters with emphasis on social, environmental and ethical issues. Specifically the corporate social responsibilities of Postal operators need to be spelt out clearly in the Bill.
PART ‘23’ - UNIVERSAL SERVICE OBLIGATION
Section ‘81’ (2): For the level of success in countries like Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom to be achieved in Nigeria’s Postal Reforms, the national (public) Postal Operator must be adequately funded for necessary infrastructural development and accessibility before its transformation to a public liability company. For example, the ability of NIPOST to render universal services throughout Nigeria is already threatened by the fact that no fewer than Three Hundred (300) of Local Government Headquarters in the country are without post offices.
Most shocking however is the deplorable state of post offices throughout Nigeria. Even the nations No.1 post office, the General Post Office, Marina, Lagos is not spared as most of the facilities there are not only obsolete but moribund. Indeed in the past twenty (20) years, NIPOST has had no budgetary allocations for capital expenditures. These shortcomings are deepened by the absence of a national coding system and the lack of efficient utility services.
Based on these premises, SSACTAC strongly advises a transition period of at least twenty (20) years from the date of the passage of the Postal Bill for NIPOST transform from a Parastatal to a Public Liability Company. Apart from being the process adopted by the aforementioned countries like Holland and Germanyto ensure success in their Postal Reforms, it will also guarantee that NIPOST is optimally equipped to meet the new challenges in the sector and its new role status.
Section ‘83 - 86’: These should be expunged from the Bill. While the Universal Service Fund (US FUND) should be established in line with the conditions in section ’82’, the functions expressed in Section ’82’ and ‘87’ are to be discharged by the Boards of the Public Postal Operator along with its universal service obligations and the Nigerian Postal Commission respectively.
Further, we advocate that even as the Board of NIPOST as the Government Operator runs the US-FUND, Labour as a major stakeholder should be involved in its management.
PART ‘25’ (3) - RESERVED POSTAL SERVICES SECTION (90) (3)
The Commission shall mandate that all mails generated by Government Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies be reserved for the Government Postal Operator (NIPOST) (as in the case of the Netherland where all utility bills are exclusively handled by the public operator).
Internet generated services like scratch cards for recruitment and examinations in all Government recognized organization like NECO, WAEC, JAMB, Military and Paramilitary organizations, Civil and Public Service etc. must be processed and distributed through the Public Postal Operator.
PART ‘26’ - MANDATORY POSTAL SERVICE SECTION 92 (b)
26 (b) - Post Bank and Post Insurance and other basic financial services that may include but not limited to money transfer (acceptance and payment) travellers cheques, savings, operation and GIRO account, bank deposits and withdrawals either directly or on agency basis.
PART ‘30 : 99’ - OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
The implications of this part of the Act makes it imperative that the public operator (NIPOST) maintains fully the powers of investigation as in the Commission (Part 32). This means that the powers stated in ‘32.108’ has to be shelved to individual Operators at the initial/primary stage.
PART ‘31’ - POWER OF INVESTIGATION SECTIONS 104 - 109
The role from section ‘104’ up to section ‘109’ should be the specific duty of the Investigation Department in both the Postal Commission and the Public Operator respectively.
It is common knowledge that liberalization of the Postal sector is a global phenomenon. However, we need to learn from the experiences of other nations as catalogued in the “Study of the UNI POST & LOGISTICS on the Liberalization of the Postal Sector” titled - WHAT HAS POSTAL LIBERALIZATION DELIVERED? (Photocopy attached).
This will guide us on the issues listed below:
a. Quality Services and Quality Jobs
b. Wage and Social Dumping
c. Long-Term Investment & Sustainable Development
d. Creation and Regulation of Employment.
We strongly advise that the Act should address these critical issues to help Nigeria have a dynamic and enviable Postal Sector.
We wish to re-emphasize our commitment to the availability of efficient postal services in the country that will benefit all the stakeholders. It is our prayers that our humble inputs are considered for addition in the final Bill.
Thank you once again for giving us this opportunity and your attention.
Long live our great country - the Federal republic of Nigeria.