Recently, the Senate launched an inquiry into the restructuring and unbundling of NIPOST for effective and efficient service delivery. However, it has become pertinent to set the record straight regarding some of the salient issues raised by the Senate, particularly the circumstances surrounding the emergence of NIPOST Properties and Development Company and NIPOST Transport Logistics Services Limited.
As someone who is in the know about the restructuring, one can confidently aver that the initiative was undertaken with the utmost dedication to improving efficiency, enhancing service delivery, and aligning with global postal standards. The process underwent thorough scrutiny, involving the Steering Committee, the National Council on Privatisation and the transaction adviser, KPMG, a globally recognised advisory firm. KPMG actually played a crucial role in providing expert counsel throughout the restructuring initiative. Their guidance ensured that every step of the process aligned with industry best practices, regulatory standards, and ethical considerations.
All financial transactions related to the NIPOST restructuring were conducted transparently and in accordance with the advice and oversight of the Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and KPMG.
For the benefit of hindsight, the NCP, at its meeting of October 31, 2017, approved the reform of the postal sector, specifically the restructuring and modernisation of the NIPOST.
The NCP also approved the constitution of a steering committee, chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to drive the reform process and review the postal sector policy, as well as the constitution of a Project Delivery Team (PDT) to serve as the secretariat of the steering committee and to develop quick-fix reform strategies to make NIPOST commercially viable.
The NPC also approved the appointment of KPMG as the transaction adviser. Based on KPMG’s recommendations, the steering committee, at its meeting held on February 7, 2020, resolved that NIPOST would establish three non-postal subsidiaries, namely: NIPOST Properties and Development Company Limited; NIPOST Transport and Logistics Company Limited; and NIPOST Microfinance Bank Limited.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) duly registered the first two with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Following the approval of the steering committee and ratification by the NCP, a seven-man board was appointed for each subsidiary. The boards were subsequently inaugurated by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on December 21, 2021. NIPOST Properties and Development Company Limited was chaired by Abdullahi Bappah Ahmed, with Prof. Sahalu B. Junaidu, Alex A. Okoh, Alexander M. Adeyemi, Dr. Ismail Adebayo Adewusi, Halima Zakari Dogo, and Fred Amobi member.
The board of NIPOST Transport and Logistics Company Services Limited had Prof. Abdussamad Umar Jibia as Chairman, with Alex A. Okoh, Alexander M. Adeyemi, Fatima Batul Muazu, Titilayo Musilimot Akintunde, Engr. Adamu Mohammed, and Ismail A. Adewusi as members.
As resolved by the implementation committee, NIPOST deployed non-management staff from its pool of staff, based on qualifications, job performance, personal integrity, experience, and geo-political representation (Federal Character), amongst others, to enhance suitable, justifiable and for a strategic-fit deployment.
In the same vein, the committee engaged KPMG to conduct the recruitment of management positions in the subsidiaries. KPMG shortlisted three candidates for each position, who were rejected by the implementation committee due to non-compliance with Federal Character.
Consequently, the committee approved the engagement of Deloitte to place advertisements in the newspapers for the management positions.
The advertisements were placed in three national newspapers (ThisDay, The Guardian and Daily Trust). Deloitte sent a list of recommended candidates, together with the profile of each candidate who was successful from the interview sessions.
Subsequently, interviews were conducted by the boards of the new subsidiaries, of which a list of successful/recommended candidates was approved by the board and presented to the Minster of Communication and Digital Economy.
The boards of the subsidiaries approved the list of the successful/recommended candidates and presented them to the minister who and secured presidential approval for the selections.
In order to ensure a seamless transfer of NIPOST assets to the subsidiaries, the implementation committee held a virtual meeting on Friday, February 18, 2022, and resolved that a committee with two members each from NIPOST, BPE and Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy be set up to identify and determine the asset sharing formula or blueprint between NIPOST, NIPOST Properties and Development Company Limited, and the NIPOST Transport and Logistics Company; and review the MEMART of the subsidiary companies and the duties not captured in the MEMART should be added and filed with the CAC.
The committee completed its assignment and forwarded its report to the minister; Chair, NIPOST Board and to the then Post-Master General.
The committee premised its recommendations on the submissions of members of NIPOST in the committee. It is important to note that the objective of the committee was to ensure a seamless take-off for the subsidiaries, with the current resources of NIPOST.
It is only to be expected that some of NIPOST’s assets would be managed by the subsidiaries. Moreso, NIPOST is the parent company of the subsidiaries.
To ascertain the properties of NIPOST across the country, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy directed the BPE to undertake an audit of all NIPOST properties nationwide. The bureau shortlisted and appointed nine firms to undertake the audit.
The accusation of N10 billion naira being unaccounted for is baseless and lacks factual merit. All financial transactions related to the restructuring have been meticulously documented, and the financial records are open for any inquiry to confirm the proper utilisation of funds.
It is crucial to understand that these subsidiaries are not private companies; rather, they are public companies established with the intention of operating as profit-making ventures.
The creation of these subsidiaries aligned with the strategic approach to enhance the efficiency and financial sustainability of NIPOST. By structuring them as public entities, the Federal Government sought to leverage market dynamics, foster competition, and generate revenue that could be reinvested into the broader goals of improving postal services for the public.
It is essential to note that despite their profit-oriented nature, these subsidiaries remain accountable to the regulatory frameworks governing public entities. The process to actualise them followed due process and all sense of patriotism. It is, therefore, trite and unjust to insinuate that the initiative was done with ulterior motive or some underhand tactics were employed.
* Ahmed writes from Wuse II, Abuja