By Emeka Oraetoka
In terms of spread, only the Nigeria Police Force is slightly ahead of the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, in the country. NIPOST has offices throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria. The implication of this is that the Federal Government can drive its social intervention programmes through NIPOST with almost 100% success. There is no local government area in Nigeria that has no presence of NIPOST. Apart from LGAs headquarters, almost all the towns in Nigeria boast of postal outlets.
Government’s social programmes, TraderMoni, N-Power and direct cash transfers to the “poorest families”, that have lifted many poor Nigerians out of poverty, can even lift more people out of penury if government deploys NIPOST infrastructure scattered all over the federation to strategically target the poor of the poor in the rural areas of the country. Leveraging on NIPOST’s backbone to run the programmes will eliminate hitches that may arise from the current method being adopted by the Federal Government. For instance, the concern expressed by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari not long ago, about the apparent poor spread of the programmes, would have been take care of if NIPOST was involved in funds distribution from the inception.
In what appeared to be a firm resolve to further deepen his administration’s programmes, President Muhammadu Buhari hinted during his National Independence Day’s broadcast of the transfer of the control of his administration’s Special Intervention Programmes, SIPs, from the Vice President’s office to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. To achieve the much needed impact, SIPs like Government Economic Empowerment Programme, Trader Moni, and direct cash transfers to the “poorest families”, should be administered via NIPOST.
To this end, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the Postmaster General of the Federation should, as a matter of urgent national importance, work out a template that ensures that the targeted beneficiaries of these programmes are reached. Fortunately, NIPOST’s offices in the 774 local government areas will provide the spread for the SIPs. By this method, the misgivings Nigerians may have about the evenness in the administration of the programmes, will be taken care of. Perhaps, this excerpt from the President’s October 1, broadcast, appears to have captured government’s commitment to do more for the masses. “To institutionalise these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date,” said Buhari, apparently explaining the transfer of the programmes to the new ministry headed by Sadiya Faruq. “To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.”
Postal outfits all over the world are offering financial services in addition to their traditional function of mail communication delivery. Besides, what we use to know as Post & Telecommunication, P&T, offered financial services in Nigeria. Before now, postal and money orders obtained from P&T were used to purchase JAMB and WAEC forms in all the local government areas in the country before. This same postal and money orders could be converted to cash in any postal outlet across Nigeria. So, NIPOST has always been equipped to offer financial services through Federal Savings Bank, domiciled in Post Offices. Based on this fact, the Federal Government would have succeeded in “killing two birds with one stone”; that is first place, giving employment to Nigerian youths through NIPOST as more people will be engaged for the suggested financial services. Secondly, the impact of the social intervention programmes will be comprehensively felt in Nigeria as no state will be left untouched. Any doubting Thomas, criticising government of lack of spread in the distribution of the SIPs will only be asked to go his or her LGA to see the beneficiaries of the programmes.
Government should leverage on the current vibrant and innovative NIPOST leadership to further deepen these SIPs that have impacted and keeps impacting positively on the lives of poor Nigerians. There is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari stands a good chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize with this wonderful SIPs; after all, in 2006, Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below”. The reason given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for the award was that “lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty” and that “across cultures and civilisations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development”.
So far, the reason given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in conferring award on Muhammad Yunus, has even been surpassed by President Buhari. This writer is convinced beyond doubt that millions of Nigerians will be captured if the Federal Government leverages on NIPOST backbone across the 774 LGAs in Nigeria to administer its programmes. And if this is done, before 2023, President Buhari would have won the Nobel Peace Prize because the signs are there.
- Oraetoka, an information management consultant and researcher, wrote from Garki-Abuja