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The Journey to Establishment of a Postal Service Commission

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As the postal industry is expecting the agencies of government that have one thing or the other to do with the postal bill to quicken action for the National Assembly to ratify the bill that will give legal backing to the Postal Service Commission, there has been agitation for the independent postal regulatory body by the courier companies in Nigeria and action taken so far by the government towards realizing this noble objective.
In May 2004, during the 2nd Nigerian Courier summit initiated and organized by the Courier Regulatory Department of Nipost under the leadership of Dr. Simon Emeje, the agitation for an independent regulatory body came to a limelight. The summit was well attended by the Honourable Minister of Communications, representatives of the National Assembly, courier operators, relevant federal government agencies and other stakeholders. This agitation was brought by courier operators based on the present postal situation in the country which entrusts the regulatory responsibility to be handled by a department Courier Regulatory Department via Decree 41 of 1992. It is argued that this legislation is highly limited in powers and has not allowed the department to regulate adequately though it has done tremendously well within the limited powers and resources at its disposal towards sanitizing the industry.
By entrusting Nipost with the regulatory role, an agency that is playing the dual role of a regulator and operator the same time. This has been condemned roundly by private courier operators and even by Nipost management as being a hindrance to effective control of the post. Stakeholders also argue that the practice is no longer fashionable in other parts of the world and that Nigeria should not be an exception.  The practice is said to be working against the regulations and conventions of the Universal Postal Union, an agency of the United Nations in charge of postal matters
As a result of the dual role Nipost is saddled with, it has not been able to operate and realize enough revenue for self-sustenance in spite of the efforts of Nipost management to up tick the organization to a profitable venture. In addition the present arrangement has hampered the definition and adequate provision of universal service. The rural sector is not adequately covered in the Universal Service Provision which Nipost owe as its exclusive duty to provide being the national carrier.
In the face of the complaints and advantages the sector stands to benefit by carving out an independent body to regulate the postal and courier sector, it is therefore imperative that action be facilitated for this all important legislation.  It has been argued that following the liberalization policy of the federal government which subsequently opened up the postal market to private entrepreneurs, establishing the commission is the only way the government can exercise control over the postal industry as practiced worldwide. Apart from the commission being the agency that will create a level playing business environment for postal operators on behalf of the federal government, it will facilitate, promote and ensure the implementation of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) of the government as recommended by the Universal Postal Union. The Universal service obligation is the effort of the government to make postal service available to all citizens at all locations in Nigeria.
The commission will sanitize the postal industry by licensing and monitoring the postal operators including Nipost. Before now, the postal industry had been noted for pilfering, dumping and loss of mails with a lot of unlicensed operators occupying some space in the industry. The Courier Regulatory Department within its resources and strength has tried to sanitize the sub-sector but there is need for greater empowerment for the Department to be able to take far-reaching measures in regulating the industry.
Stakeholders have advanced the argument that establishing the commission will give a better definition of responsibility to Nipost especially as a designated public postal operator that will provide the universal service and that in then circumstance it enable Nipost to make more revenue and become self-sustaining as more revenue will be realized from the reserved area which is the traditional jurisdiction of Nipost.
Operators have also said that to keep pace with international best practice, establishing the commission is a necessity arguing that Nigeria is one of the few countries in Africa and  in fact the rest of the world that has no independent postal regulatory body. Such countries liker Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Togo, India Britain,USA among others , they argued are all enjoying established independent postal regulatory commissions
Since the commission will concentrate in regulating the sector, it will ensure more monitoring and enforcement of its laws. This will bring more life and fervor into the sector and its activities will contribute to the economic wellbeing and development of Nigeria considering the fact that the post is a major segment of the communication industry and communication being a vital instrument for economic development.
It would be recalled that consequent upon the agitation to establish an independent postal commission necessitated by the present postal situation, a ministerial committee was inaugurated by Chief Cornelius Adebayo, then Minister for Communications in 2005 to draft the National Postal Policy and the Nigerian Postal Service bill which were to be eventually submitted to the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly respectively. The process was truncated by the deployment of Cornelius Adebayo from the communications ministry coupled with the tragic end in a plane crash of the enabler of the New Nipost order, Abubarka Argungu in October 2005.  The stakeholders’ forum, which was slated to hold the same month, was therefore postponed sine die as a result of the developments.
When the new Minister of Communications, Chief Anibaba took over from Adebayo, time left for him to tidy up the documents for submission to the Federal Executive Council was too short as the Obasanjo-led administration was running out of time.
However in April 2008, the stakeholders’ forum was held. The Nethpost consultants from The Netherlands who signed a contract on postal reform with the federal government through the Bureau of Public Enterprises fine-tuned the documents and finally submitted to BPE for onward transmission to John Ogar Odey, then Minister of Information and Communications.
Around the middle of the year 2008, these documents, National Postal Policy and Postal Bill were presented to the Senate Committee on Communications under the chairmanship of Sylvester Anyanwu in a meeting of the Senate Committee with Nipost, BPE and the executives of the Senior Staff Association (Postal branch).Then it was agreed that   BPE  should put finishing touches to the documents before the final submission to the honorable minister of Information and Communications who will then submit to the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly .
Towards the last quarter of 2008 Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that these documents were submitted to the National Council on Privatization (NCP) headed by the vice president.  It was gathered also that NCP approved the documents in the NCP meeting that then Minister of Information and Communications, John Odey was in attendance. Based on this approval, the next line of action would have been for the documents to be submitted to the Federal Executive Council through the minister of Information and Communications who until he left office said the documents were not submitted to him by the BPE. Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations from Chigbo Anichebe, Head Public Affairs, confirmed BPE was in custody of the documents but revealed that private courier operators were being awaited as at three months ago to make the final input into the documents which BPE said was causing the delay but Toyin Olufade, president, Association of Nigeria Courier Operators (Anco) said   some of his members had vetted the documents and sent back to BPE for it to commence further action.


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E-Financial

FG Makes u-Turn on Bank Account Re-Registration

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Federal government on Friday apologised for asking all account holders in financial institutions in the country to re-register their personal details.

FG makes u-Turn on Bank Account Re-Registration

Recall that the federal government had on Thursday ‎ordered that all persons holding accounts across financial institutions and insurance firms should complete and submit self-certification forms to their respective financial institutions.

The notice issued by the government to that effect read, ‎“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc.) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions are required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions. The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures, in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.‎”

The directive raised eyebrows, as account holders already possessed Bank Verification Numbers.

Following widespread condemnation that trailed the directive, the Federal Government backtracked on Friday, saying the fresh guidelin‎e was not for all Nigerians.

The government attributed the development to misinformation.

The clarification issued by the government on Friday read, ‎“We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the notice does not apply to everybody. ‎FIRS will clarify Nigerians on the objectives of the directive.”

Also on Friday, FIRS, in a statement posted on Twitter, explained that the guidelines were only for non-residents, as well as people paying tax in more than one country.

Parts of the FIRS statement read, “The Self Certification Form is basically to be administered on Reportable Persons, holding accounts in Financial institutions, that are regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions” under the CRS.

“Reportable persons are often non-residents and other persons, who have residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or country.”

“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction, is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during account opening processes, for the KYC and AML purpose.”


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FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

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Federal Government has included Emirates Airlines in the list of airlines not allowed to operate in Nigeria.

FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

This is part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation, confirmed this via his Twitter handle on Friday.

According to Sirika, the decision was taken following a meeting between the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and European Unions (EU).

The ban would take effect from Monday, September 21, 2020.

“The PTF sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban.

“The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st September 2020,” Sirika tweeted.


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Telecom

Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

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The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), has started to broadcast a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI), providing its first open service in the region via NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite managed and operated the by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd., under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

This early open service is provided as part of the programme, which pursues the autonomous provision SBAS services in Africa, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

With improved accuracy to within a meter, and boosted integrity, availability, and continuity of safety-related applications, these SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, and also benefit the economy in many areas as land, sea, and rail transport, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable development.

The launched open service essentially aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024. It will also include early Precise Point Positioning (PPP), and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through other demonstrations.

The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union, and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 per cent), and Leonardo (33 per cent).

The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the European EGNOS (1) developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA.

The system prototype uses as reference stations the SAGAIE network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcasted via the SBAS payload on NigComSat 1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite, and an uplink station deployed in Abuja, Nigeria.

It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the minimum operational performance standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.

It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, managing director/chief executive officer of NIGCOMSAT, said: “we are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent.”

On his part, Benoit Broudy, vice president, Navigation Business at Thales Alenia Space in France, said the longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS1 SBAS in Europe, and KASS SBAS in Korea, combined with the new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies make Thales Alenia the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently.

“The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution,” he stated.

Mohamed Moussa, director-general of ASECNA, said the provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI region, and in the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa.

He said: “It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky.”


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