Following confusion at the headquarters of the Nigerian Postal Service, Tola Odeyemi defied the odds to formally take over as Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer.
NIPOST workers had staged a protest and shut out Odeyemi, denying her entry to her office at the headquarters of the service in Abuja on Monday.
However, following the exit of the former NIPOST boss, Sunday Adepoju from the premises, Odeyemi entered into the premises and met with staff of the agency as part of activities for her resumption at the top role.
President Bola Tinubu had thrown NIPOST into confusion following the appointment of a new Postmaster General and the reinstatement of the suspended holder of the office almost simultaneously.
Adepoju, who claimed to have been reinstated to his post as NIPOST Postmaster General, resumed office on Monday and left around 12 p.m. with some staff members rallying round him and urging him to stay.
On Thursday, President Tinubu removed Adepoju as the Postmaster-General of NIPOST and appointed Odeyemi as his replacement.
But less than 24 hours after the announcement, NIPOST claimed in a now-deleted tweet via its X (formerly Twitter) handle that Adepoju had been reinstated.
The situation had thrown NIPOST into confusion as to who heads the government agency.
Earlier Monday morning, the staff placed placards at the gate of the headquarters of the organisation in Abuja, welcoming Adepoju and rejecting Odeyemi.
“Leave our PMG alone, he is working,” one of the placards read. Others read, “We don’t want Ola Odeyemi (Ms), leave Sunday Adepoju,” and “If you want development, give us Sunday Adepoju”.
Speaking, president of the National Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees, Buba Nehemiah, said the protest was not directed against the president or minister but to draw attention to the plight of the agency.
He claimed Adepoju, who was being removed, had brought tremendous changes to NIPOST in less than a year after his appointment.
Adepoju was appointed on October 21, 2022 by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
He is an accountant and a former member of the House of Representatives from 2011 – 2015 and 2015 – 2019, representing Ibarapa East/Ido Federal Constituency.
“How many people are bringing their mail again? Nobody was patronising NIPOST. But overnight, things changed and we are recovering then you say we should go back to square one. And you want us to be quiet,” he said.
He said the union had sent a congratulatory message to the supervising Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, and requested his audience.
He said part of the items the union wanted to discuss with him was to appoint someone with adequate understanding of the organisation and its activities.
On his way out of the premises of the agency around 12 p.m., staff of the agency rallied round Adepoju, urging him not to leave.
Addressing the staff and some journalists present, Adepoju said there had been a directive and counter-directive on the issue.
“There’s a directive. There’s a counter-directive and there’s still a directive,” he said, without giving details.
He added, “When the minister comes and calls for me, I’ll still come, I’m still part of you. If I’m not here, there are one thousand and one that can do the job.
“Go to my records and see. I have never (been) found wanting in my life. From my primary school, my records are clean and clear.”
One staff member of the service, who didn’t want to be named, said that the management staff of the agency had been informed by the minister to prepare to welcome Odeyemi.
He, however, said she must have gotten information that the staff members were protesting and decided to cancel her plans of resuming.
“We are protesting because this PMG has already done so much. He will just be one year old by Thursday,” the official said, while noting that Adepoju had improved staff welfare during his relatively short stay in office.
“The staff are protesting because we’ve never had it this good,” he added.
Meanwhile, Odeyemi has pledged to build on the successes of her predecessors by introducing a digital revolution into the service.
Odeyemi gave the assurance in her inaugural speech after she assumed duty at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja.
In her inaugural address, Odeyemi acknowledged the huge task before her, promising to do her best by bringing in her 15 years of experience in both the public and private sectors.
She said, “My experience and qualifications have equipped me to face the challenges ahead. My experience with technologies, fintech and my time with leading companies like Binance and Uber have prepared me for this moment. As we embrace the future, let’s leverage digital transformations, innovative solutions, and the collective power of our human capital to redefine NIPOST for the modern age.
“A NIPOST that connects Nigerians irrespective of where they are and what they do. A NIPOST that Nigerians can trust. As an organization, we shall leverage partnerships both with fellow public sector MDAs and the organized private sector. The NIPOST we need as a nation isn’t going to build alone.
“As I assume this role, I aim to build on the commendable work of my predecessors. I look forward to meeting with each one of you, learning from your experiences as it is very important to assess where we are, while forging a path forward. My primary focus will always be on the welfare of our staff, doing my best to create an enabling environment for each and every one of us to thrive; to be your greatest cheerleader.
“In this regard, I am particularly excited to be working closely with the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who superintends our institution is a visionary who will chart a path that allows us to leverage the latest in technology and digital transformation to better serve our citizens and solidify our position in the global postal community.”
Odeyemi is a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in government, global overseas affairs, and investment, making significant contributions in regulatory roles.
She holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Morgan State University, a renowned institution known for its excellence in engineering education.
Her pursuit of academic excellence led her to earn a Master’s in System Engineering from The George Washington University – School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2007.
With a strong technical foundation, she has demonstrated her proficiency in navigating the complex intersections of technology and governance.
Her previous roles include serving as the Head of Public Policy for West Africa at Uber, where she played a pivotal role in shaping the regulatory environment for the ride-sharing industry.
Additionally, she held the position of Head of Government Operations for West Africa at Binance, a global cryptocurrency exchange platform, contributing to the advancement of financial technology solutions in the region.
Odeyemi’s dedication to public service is evidenced by her impactful roles within the Lagos State Government. As the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Environmental Trust Fund from 2016 to 2019, she spearheaded initiatives focused on environmental stewardship and sustainability. Simultaneously, she served as the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor, overseeing the Public Utilities Monitoring and Assurance Unit, contributing to the efficient delivery of public services.