Over 3,000 MSMEs petition National Assembly over NIPOST guidelinesBy Dennis Erezi

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Over 3,000 Nigerian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have written to the National Assembly, seeking a halt to the formulation of new guidelines to their business by the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).

The MSMEs wrote two separate letters to the leadership of the National Assembly – the Senate president Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

“The aim of this appeal Is to bring to your attention an issue that has the potential to disrupt the livelihood of millions of Nigerians and take the life out of a lot of businesses, particularly MSMEs. who are most affected by the implementation of the recent Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) guideline,” the MSMEs in the Lagos SME Bootcamp Community said.

In one of their prayers, they want the country’s legislature to “put a complete halt to the possibility of NIPOST revisiting the implementation of the guidelines until a more robust stakeholder engagement and review of market realities is done.”

The MSMEs also proposed the inclusion of an independent courier regulatory commission in the Courier and Logistics Industry Regulation Bill at the National Assembly.

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“The issues with NIPOST and the logistics industry go beyond the pricing and govt must find ways to seek robust clean up of the industry to the benefit of the citizens relying on it for livelihood,” the convener of Lagos SME Bootcamp Ayo Bankole said.

Last week, NIPOST announced the introduction of new regulations it said was aimed at upping ease of doing business, ‘rejigging’ the logistics and courier sector of the economy and improving the efficiency of the players in that sector.

The new regulation categorised logistics companies into international, regional, state, municipal or intra-city, and SME operators.

International operators are to pay ₦20 million as a license fee, national ₦10 million and regional operators ₦5 million. State, municipal and special SME operators are to pay ₦2 million, ₦1 million and ₦250,000 respectively. Each operator, irrespective of the category, will pay 40% of the license fee as renewal fee annually.

NIPOST’s General Manager, Corporate Communications, Franklin Alao, said the new regulation will “significantly improve efficiency, and make courier and logistic operation more effective, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration policy on ease of doing business.”

However, his thoughts of the new regulations did not sit well many Nigerians who said the guidelines could further damage the state of their businesses. Many vented their displeasure via the #SayNoToNipostFee which trended on Twitter that weekend.

Nigeria’s communications and digital economy minister Isa Pantami said the fees were not part of the new regulations he approved. Pantami said the NIPOST’s Postmaster-General was contacted on Friday to put halt the collection of the fees.

NIPOST thereafter announced a halt to the regulation but said it was updating it.

Barely two days after the announcement, logistic companies in Lagos State began a three-day strike to protest against the regulation and activities of touts, whom they claimed fronted for local governments’ officials in the metropolis.

The MSMEs in their petition to the National Assembly said the guidelines are ‘sudden and unrealistic policies’ and counter-productive to the government’s efforts in improving the country ease of doing business ranking.

They, therefore, want their petition “to the Senate to kindly Intervene in this matter and conduct a holistic review of the regulatory framework guiding courier and logistics business in Nigeria.”

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