The Senate has assured the staff of Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), that NIPOST would retain its core mandate of selling stamps and collection of stamp duty proceeds on both physical and electronic business transactions across the country.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawal gave the assurance, on Thursday, when the NIPOST workers and the leadership of SSASCGOC staged a peaceful protest to the National Assembly, in Abuja.
The protesting workers have gathered as early as 8 a.m on Thursday at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, from where they marched to the National Assembly, where they were addressed by the representatives of the Senate President on their grievances.
Under the auspices of SSASCGOC, NIPOST workers have written to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President Ahmed Lawal and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on the scheme, being spearheaded by the Finance minister to divert the core duty of stamp duty collections, both physical and electronics, illegally from NIPOST to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
In the letter, SSASCGOC) had warned against the scheme by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), to take over the core mandate of Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) at the detriment of national development and the NIPOST.
SSASCGOC, therefore, called on the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives to consider and reverse any attempt to divert the revenue source from NIPOST to any other Government agency.
The union warned that if this is allowed, it would get to a time when the FIRS would want to take over the jobs of all revenue-generating agencies of government, such as NAFDAC, NNPC, Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and such other parastatals.
However, while addressing the protesting workers, the Senate President, who was represented by the acting Senate Spokesperson, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, and Senator Sulaiman Abdu Kwari, assured them that their grievances as put forward in their letter had already been addressed.
He told the protesting workers that as soon as their letter was received, the Senate leadership had met with the Postmaster General for prop briefing and understanding of the issue in contention; and gave an indication that collection of the stamp duty proceeds, to denote document and transactions physically or electronically would be domiciled with NIPOST.
While delivering Senate President message, Senator Akwashiki said: “Just like my colleague has said, because of the importance of your coming, because we are lawmakers in the highest chamber in Nigeria, we are debating the Appropriation Bill but because of the importance of this issues, the Senate President sent the two of us to go and listen to your grievances.
“The report on the appropriation bill is going on in the chamber but because of the importance of this visit, the senate president has directed me and my colleague to come here and hear why you are here now.
He has submitted a copy of your letter, and the complaint addressed to his office and on the complaint, he asked me to let you know that this bill for amendment, the Senate and the National Assembly are amending. The Senate President said I should assure you that your grievances on the Amendment Bill even though it has been passed by the Senate but still hanging in the House of Representatives, it is still within the National Assembly of Nigeria.
Following your grievances and concern, we have discussed with the Postmaster General and all the issues addressed has been considered in the amendment Bill.
“Even if at the end of that bill, you discover any lacuna or any complaint in the bill, you can come back, we will amend it for you.”
The General Secretary of SSASCGOC, Dr Ayo Olorunfemi, while addressing the protesters warned that with the proposed plan to usurp responsibilities of NIPOST, no fewer than 9,000 workers would lose their jobs.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives to consider and reverse any attempt to divert NIPOST’s revenue source to any other government agency.
He said: “It is now clear that the Federal Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Service is ready to take over the responsibility of the Nigerian Postal Services by influencing the House of Representatives to insert the collection to be their responsibility.
“Once this is done, it means NIPOST is finished, there is no form of revenue and it means that the financial inclusion program of this government will go into extinction because it is only NIPOST that has federal presence spread across all the Villages and communities in Nigeria.
“And once that is killed, it means that most of the developmental projects of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been killed, and we say no, we will not allow this to happen.”