The Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has directed the Nigerian Postal Service to stop all cash transactions with immediate effect. In a statement issued on Thursday by the Spokesperson of the Ministry, Mrs. Uwa Suleman, the Postmaster General was directed to ensure that NIPOST offices nationwide comply with the directive. The statement reads below:
“It has come to the attention of the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS FBCS FIIM that some unscrupulous elements, have been taking undue advantage of the cash payment system under the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) to engage in corrupt practices.
“In line with anti-corruption agenda of president Muhammed Buhari GCFR, and the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the Honourable Minister hereby directs the Post Master General, to with immediate effect; suspend all existing cash payment plans within its establishments nationwide. The Post Master General, is to ensure that all its offices revert to Point of Sales (PoS) and bank teller transactions immediately.
“The general public and all customers of NIPOST, are hereby encouraged to insist on Point of Sales (PoS) or bank teller transactions, when conducting a business with NIPOST. This directive is a temporary measure in the interim to tackle corruption, as we are currently working on fully automating the systems as a permanent solution to the challenge.
“In the same vein, Dr. Pantimi also directs the Post Master General, to immediately implement strategies that will bring an end to unnecessary delays in its service delivery to customers. The current trend of delays in postal services will not be condoned by the office of the Honourable Minister under whose purview, the supervision of NIPOST falls.
“The administration of president Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy are committed to protect the rights of all Nigerians and will not tolerate any acts of corruption under its watch.”
While the directive is being applauded, the newly introduced charges on PoS transactions pose a challenge. It could be recalled that last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced N50 Stamp Duty Charge on PoS transactions, a decision that drew a lot of criticism from the general public.
The apathy toward the directive is growing with proportionate contagiousness and the cashless policy is bearing the brunt. Many have since then, learned to avoid PoS transactions. Human Rights Activist and Lawyer, Segun Awosanya tweeted:
“Any filling station that demands to take extra money from you because of PoS payment option should be resisted. Let them suck their fuel out. If you don’t resist this evil of policy somersault they will make slaves of you. First, they taxed us on cash deposit and withdrawal now PoS” .
In response to this tweet, another Twitter user, Onyekachi Nwachuya, tweeted: “Last Saturday, I was at Restopark filling station to refill my gas cylinder, and I was charged an extra N50 for PoS. I had to withdraw my card and pay in cash. So much for a government with a cashless policy yet milking you up with unwarranted transaction charges,” he said.
There is a report that filling stations in Abuja are no longer serving PoS due to customers’ unwillingness to pay the N50 stamp duty charge.
Now talk about NIPOST, and there will be a pathetic story of liquidation. The Nigerian people turned away from NIPOST and its services for a long time due to its inefficiencies. It was until recently that the government saw the need to revive its activities. Ever since then, the willingness of the people to patronize it has been going through coercion.
So the directive of the Ministry of Communication to the NIPOST is like a sword at the neck of a dying man. Not that the directive is not a good approach in solving the challenge of corruption therein; but it will hinder the needed patronage for the full revival of NIPOST.
There has been growing apathy toward CBN’s directives on cashless policy recently, and the newly introduced PoS charges has come to be one Nigerians seem not ready to accept. It is a stale that many Nigerian businesses are going to bear, and NIPOST appears to be the first victim: Unless the Stamp Duty Charge is lifted or the Ministry of Communication reverses its directive.