Postal service and the need to entrench national development




The Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) over the years has faced daunting challenges of surviving in a world where information and communications technology has taken the front seat in information and dissemination. DAVID AGBA reports.

The advent of the internet and all its programmes and products, no doubt has left  the Post with no choice but to struggle to remain relevant in the new global village.

Despite this, NIPOST has wittingly weathered the storm in co-existing among its peers though not without hiccups.

At this point of national fatalities where the entire nation alongside other countries of the earth is grappling with the fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic otherwise known as COVID 19 that broke out in Wuhan Province of China and has now travelled the world over, there is hardly any continent of the earth that this plague has not established its presence, with Nigeria already grappling with its own number that is on the increase on daily basis.

As at Wednesday, April 22, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) case update has 117 new cases bringing the total to 782 cases with 197 recovered and discharged while the records showed 25 deaths. Individual nations have started putting out measures to fight this scourge, developed and developing nations alike, since the Virus does not spare any of nations of the earth.

By the time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the scourge as a pandemic that has suddenly crept on the world with a ravaging tenacity leaving in its wake thousands of deaths, the developing nations were caught pants down, owing to near comatose health facilities that litter each of this nations.  Nigeria seems to be worst hit; even the testing kits have to be waited for from abroad before it could kick-starts its testing of individuals, turning to other countries to help it with more COVID 19 Testing kits became laborious, as each country appear to be running out of the kits, not to talk of ventilators and other medical equipment needed to combat the scourge.

Nigeria has to depend on individuals

As a nation, Nigeria has to depend on individuals such as Jack Ma and his country- China, whose interest in Nigeria post- Covid event made them to ship some testing kits and some medical equipments that has bailed Nigeria out of the initial morass it found itself in the fight against the virus. Apparently, their gesture was spurned at by average Nigerians initially, but the tenacity with which the disease is ravaging gave the populace no option than to raise their hands in helplessness and agreed to trickle of tests that are still being carried out to date.

It is on record that South Africa has carried out about 100,000 tests already, with Ghana and Egypt tailing between 60,000 and 38,000 respectively, while, Nigeria, self acclaimed giant of Africa is yet to hit 10,000 tests carried out so far

The federal government’s response of setting up of Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 and the efforts of the Central bank of Nigeria in galvanizing of Coalition against COVID 19 (CA COVID19) is exemplary and could rightly   channel the accrued fund towards national development without necessarily recourse to the nebulous and ambiguous bureaucracy that leaves room for the funds to be siphoned. It is evident that in combating this scourge, government need to curtail its spread by having more functional health facilities, isolation centres, acquisition of more ventilators and other medical equipment that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world.

Dearth of infrastructure

Nigeria is yearning for infrastructure in virtually every aspect of its social, political and economy life, the dearth of health facilities exposed its underbelly to imminent danger more at this time of global pandemic, where its leaders could not afford to go on medical tourism as before, as other nations that hitherto were their nest, where they seek medical answers to their health at the slightest opportunity, were equally over stretched in tending to their citizens. Thus, were forced to put up with the ramshackle, that the hospitals have become.

Interestingly, COVID 19 is a global pandemic, and countries of the world dread and repudiate other nationals from coming into their countries to avoid more import of the scourge. 

Albeit, it is not rocket science to build world class specialised health centres. Among other national infrastructure needed not only to fill the gap in the course of any emergency, but far reaching in ameliorating citizens’ suffering at any time for that matter.

Even at the best of intentions, gestures, palliative measures by govt aimed at reaching every citizen, particularly, the down trodden ones can be misconstrued, if the right infrastructure is not in place to ensure evenly distribution of the materials.

Globalisation

Globalisation in this part of the world seems to have relegated the Post to the back, almost extinct, which in actual fact; it is to our detriment, as most Postal administrations of the fore front countries, having shut their doors to the outside world redirected their energy to reach their populace in this time of lockdowns.

A high ranking personnel of the Universal Postal Union UPU stated that ‘though we cannot stop the cause of nature, we can do our best to ensure that we are as prepared as possible to withstand nature, disasters, and help our countries recover’.

Comprehensive postal systems

The establishment of efficient and comprehensive postal systems in the developing countries is important internationally as well as from the purely domestic viewpoint

A countrywide network of post offices provides government with many points of contact with its people for implementing administrative programmes in such fields as social security, taxation, and public information, as well as point of distribution of humanitarian materials, medical equipment in the cause of national disasters. When its operation is properly developed, the post office may also become one of the principal employers in a country; it may help to promote economic growth aftermath of the disaster, if need be, through its need for buildings, vehicles, and equipment; and it has the potential to become a major user of transport services.

Potential of a postal system

The employment potential of a postal system is evident from the fact that the percentage of the working population engaged in providing postal services is generally several times higher in developed than in developing countries.

An efficient postal service, in addition to promoting national cohesion, provides an essential infrastructure for the expansion of industry and commerce. Postal money transfer and savings services are particularly valuable in developing economies, where banking facilities are limited. They may generate large resources that can be used for public investment.

In all of this, as government considers and plough the funds into developing infrastructure among other needs, it would not  be out of place to suggest to it to consider upping the Post office infrastructure.

NIPOST to distribute humanitarian aid

Only recently, NIPOST expressed its readiness to join hands with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and other relevant agencies in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the General Manager, Corporate Communication, Franklin Alao, said,  “NIPOST, is offering to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, medications and medical equipment to areas where needed, and bridging the social distance gap necessitated by the Pandemic.

“With the presence of a post office in 1400 locations across the country, making available the Post Offices to the PTF is our modest contribution in fighting the COVID 19 Pandemic.

“To support the Government stay–at–home directives/order and avoid non-essential journeys, NIPOST assures the public that we are going to make changes in our delivery processes like adopting longer retention period for parcels, to give customers longer time to collect or have their items re-delivered.”

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