By Appolos Christian
As a result of what it termed ‘insensitivity to the plight of NIPOST and its staff’, the Senior Staff of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), said it has given the Federal government a 21 days ultimatum, starting from Thursday 8th July to Wednesday 29 July 2020, to settle all contending issues concerning the survival of the institution, adding that it will be forced to embark on a nationwide strike if it warning is ignored.
The General Secretary to the union, Dr. Ayo Olorunfemi, who made this known in a press conference in Abuja, told journalists that in spite of their appeals and efforts against a targeted actions to frustrate the survival of NIPOST and its staff, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, is bent on throwing the institution into oblivion.
Expressing the disappointment of the union, Olorunfemi said; “We are here today to express our shock at the high level of government insensitivity to the plight of NIPOST and its staff..
“We are surprise that in spite of our appeal that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) should not kill the NIPOST, all efforts are being made to throw the organization into oblivion.
“It should be noted that both NIPOST and Federal Inland Revenue Services are Statutory Corporations for which this Union has Jurisdiction to organize their staff. Therefore, our position must always be balanced according to the laws of the land. That is why we are insisting that both organizations must develop a synergy that will enhance higher productivity in the area of stamp matter.
“We recognize the power conferred on FIRS to collect stamp duties just as that of the NIPOST power to produce and issue stamps. These must be acknowledged and recognized in implementing the Finance Act. Therefore it is illegal for FIRS to produce stamp to denote duties when it can be procured from NIPOST.
“It should be noted that stamp is a product of NIPOST as given to it by law. The Finance Act did not give any power to FIRS to produce stamp. In other word to utilize stamp for duties FIRS must get it from NIPOST.
“The FIRS on 30th June 2020 against any known law produced and launched its owned brand of adhesive stamp thereby hijacking and taking over the function of NIPOST. As we speak many Nigerians have stopped purchasing adhesive stamps from NIPOST. This if not challenged and nip in the bud will ultimately lead to the collapse of NIPOST and the staff will have to lose their jobs. We will not allow this to happen.
“You will agree with us that the Ministry of foreign affairs though must approve all international travels; can’t produce any International Passport. So it is same in the case of stamp used in denoting duties by name ‘ stamp duties’
“To this end we are calling on the federal government to facilitate an urgent meeting between NIPOST, FIRS, SSASCGOC and other stakeholders in order to arrive at an amicable resolution. Failure to do this within 21 days from today Thursday 8th July 2020, the Union shall have no other option than to direct all its members in NIPOST to withdraw their services.
“It is very painful that while other nations are protecting and developing their postal services and making maximum use of the services for advancement, Nigeria is busy doing things that will kill its own.
“At the appropriate time we shall not hesitate to report Nigeria to the International Postal Union as we can no longer tolerate lip service at the expense of good governance which is the bedrock of development.”
Responding to questions from newsmen, Olorunfemi went on to say, “In respect to job loss, we will not lose anything less than 15,000 workers if government allow NIPOST go into moribund. When you multiply the effect on the economy and the saturation of unemployment market, you will know that it will be a catastrophe.
“Mr. President has told us clearly that there will be no job loss. We consider that as just a statement coming from Mr. President because of his heart, he doesn’t wants it. But when circumstance lead to people losing their jobs, that statement will be withdrawn. So, we don’t want to wait and rely on that statement that there will be no job loss. If there is no more job to do, will they continue to keep us? So, we are determined to protect the interest of our members in this case.”
Asked why the union has not approached the court on the issues, he responded; “We have not thrown that out. It is an option but as a responsible trade union Organisation, we want to exploit all available avenue before resort to court.
“I can assure you by the time they allow this thing to lead to strike, we will also be in court. Once we start the strike, and while we are in the street fighting, we will also go to court to fight. You don’t fight on the street when you cannot win in court. We know we can win this in court, we have a law that has empowered NIPOST to produce and issue stamp, that law still subsist, it has not been repealed and there is no other law that has given other Organisation such power to produce stamp. The Finance Act did not say so.
“The way Nigeria runs, some people are trying to be mischievous, they want to deceive Mr. President, we are using this opportunity to let Mr President know that something has gone wrong with the kind of information they are sending to him concerning this matter.
“We have our own way of seeding messages across. One of the way is to alert them the way we have done, and the next stage will be to withdraw our services and report this matter to the international community. We will also go to court to seek legal redress.”