By Chesa Chesa
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on Tuesday signed the instrument for the sale of 21 per cent of the Federal Government’s shares in the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The transaction would contribute a net sum of over N17 billion to the treasury.
The instrument, which was signed by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and BPE Director-General, Alex Okoh, at the Aso Rock Villa transferred FG’s 12.4 billion shares in the NSPMC to the apex bank.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), supervised the signing of the deal. He said that it intends to seek the benefit of synergies between public and private sectors, especially in complex projects which require cutting-edge technology.
Osinbajo said: “Security printing has taken new dimensions; it is no longer what it used to be. As a matter of fact, there are those who think that today there is more of technology than merely security printing.
“If you look at some of the cards that are being printed today, the chips are not just security they are actually technological assets.
“So, there are new assets and there new dimensions and there are new ideas and it’s just the privates sector that can really be at the cutting edge of technology and innovation”, he stated.
Osinbajo noted said over 140 publicly-owned companies in Nigeria have been privatized in the past 30 years, explaining that government’s divestment of its interest in the companies was to bring in the needed expertise to run them.
He said that the CBN and its technical partner, De La Rue, the private company in the deal, would bring in the innovative edge in the NSPMC.
According to him, “government should stick to its regulatory role and its incentivizing role and allow the private sector to do business, allow the private sector to take the risk where possible”.
Emefiele said the NSPMC was an asset with the capacity to produce currency for not just Nigeria but also for the West African region, also to produce sensitive security documents for government and for private companies.
“The capacity of the Mint has increased and expanded and it now produces all the currency that is needed in the country. The mint capacity has been expanded to where it has idle capacity that can produce of other ECOWAS countries.
“We intend to embark on aggressive marketing to see to it that not only produces for itself but also produces for other important stakeholders that may require its services in the area of currency printing.
“In the area of security document, we are working assiduously given the fact that the mint was in the past produced passports and produced visas and other very sensitive security documents.
“Our next phase is to see to it that the NSPMC eventually begins the printing of the digital Nigerian passport”, he said.
Mint wants to print INEC electoral materials
Meanwhile, NSPM has pleaded with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mamood Yakubu, to award it the contract of printing materials for the 2019 general elections.
NSPM Managing Director, Mr. Abbas Umar Masanawa, who disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, said that the company has the capacity to handle all election materials for the election.
Manasawa said that his organisation had met with the INEC Chairman to discuss the matter, expressing optimism that the commission would consider his request.
“We have the capacity, we are hoping not only to compete with others, we are hoping if INEC will give us the opportunity, we have the capacity to do 100 per cent of not only the ballot paper, all the electoral materials in 2019.
“We are pleading with INEC and we are trying to see how they can give us, we have been talking with them. We say instead of INEC to take it somewhere else outside the country, it is something that we can do.
“We have the capacity to print in Nigeria 100 percent of all the electoral requirements come 2019 and we believe INEC will give us the opportunity to prove that we can be able to do it.
“Mint is a goldmine and what we have achieved is not to be compared with what we are capable of achieving, we believe we will be able to do better over time,” he stated.
Sensitive electoral materials for election in Nigeria are often printed abroad.