Adebayo Adewusi, the Postmaster-General of Nigeria and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has called for urgent intervention, especially from the House of Representatives to save the service from total collapse.
Adewusi told lawmakers that last year, the service had a deficit of about N1.7 billion, saying the way it is today, “NIPOST is in comatose, it is just a matter of time before NIPOST dies if no intervention is made.’’
Postmaster- General expressed the worry when he appeared before the House committee on finance for interaction on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) 2023 – 2025 on Wednesday.
He said that the revenue of NIPOST has been dwindling since 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 impact which has affected 60 to 65 per cent of its revenue which comes from exporting mail.
Adewusi said: “When you take half of our revenue, that you are saying, in essence, is that we should shut down business; the truth of the matter is that,
our cost of operation is higher than our revenue.
According to him in 2021, NIPOST generated N3.9 billion but could not remit anything to government coffers and that it could not remit anything in 2022.
He explained that as a result reforms made in 2020, a major source of revenue for NIPOST had been transferred to Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) saying that NIPOST was now looking for alternatives.
Adewusi said that a couple of products had been developed to advanced stages saying that when they become fully operational, the revenue would improve.
In his remarks, Abdulallhi Saidu the deputy chairman of the committee acknowledged the challenges of NIPOST, saying the Finance Act 2020 states that, partially funded agencies like NIPOST should pay 50 per cent of their revenue into government coffers.
Saidu said: “For us not to be seen breaching the law, it is expected that we make an exceptional case for NIPOST, am aware you have a peculiar and difficult case, but we have a law, the Finance Act.”
Saidu suggested that the finance committee, the supervising committee and management of NIPOST should work together, explore their networks to get NIPOST back on its feet again.
Also appearing before the committee for the same purpose, Ifeoma Isiugo-Abanihe, the Registrar of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) told the committee that the board was in need of a bailout.
She said compared to the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO), the number of candidates who sit for NABTEB are very few and some state governments who sponsored candidates from their states are owing.
Isiugo-Abanihe said the examinations are conducted on credit for the state governments involved, out of hardship and the need to encourage them and the students to take the exams.
The registrar said monies released to run the agency was barely enough for the board to mobilise and organise examinations annually.
She said in 2021, N1.5 billion was generated and N1.4 billion was spent adding that N2.8 billion, N3.20 billion, N3.4 billion has been projected for 2023, 2024 and 2025 respectively.
“Since 2021, 25 per cent of our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is deducted at source in the government coffers; right now the examination money is not available to conduct exams.
“Income that were earned four years or five years ago and have now been paid are still deducted; we do these exams on credit out of hardship and to encourage them to take the exams; we need a bailout,’’ Isiugo-Abanihe said.
Chairman of the committee urged NABTEB to mobilise and get more candidates to sit for the examination to increase income while trying to recover all liabilities before the end of September.
He said if the liabilities are not recovered, NABTEB’s account should be blocked and monies recovered and paid into government coffers.
Also, the committee resolved to carry out a status inquiry on the accounts of the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA)
The resolution was sequel to discrepancies noticed in NITDA records and records made available by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC)
on amount remitted into government coffers by NITDA.
The committee directed a reconciliation of accounts between both agencies alongside Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and report back on Monday next week.