The Federal Government yesterday sold 21 percent of its stake in the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), amounting to 12.4 billion shares to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

The formal signing of the instrument for the transfer of the shares was witnessed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo, who is the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), said the instrument, which was signed by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Director General of BPE, Alex Okoh, was all about divesting 21 per cent public interest in NSPMC to bring synergies that could come from public and private sector coming together, especially in complex projects that require cutting-edge technology.

“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 being printed today, that in the chips are not just security they are actually technological assets. So, there are new assets and new dimensions and there are new ideas and it’s just the private sector that can really be at the cutting edge of technology and innovation.”

“Government should stick to its regulatory role and its incentivising role and allow the private sector to do business and allow the private sector to take the risk where possible,” he said. Osinbajo said CBN and its technical partner, De La Rue, who is the private company in the deal, would bring in the innovative edge in NSPMC.

In his remarks, Emefiele said NSPMC is an asset with the capacity to produce currency for not just Nigeria but also for the West African sub-region, and also produce sensitive security documents for government and private companies.

“The capacity of the Mint has increased and expanded and it now produces all the currency needed in the country. The Mint’s capacity has been expanded to where it has idle capacity that can produce for other ECOWAS countries.

Speaking earlier, the Director General of BPE, Okoh, noted that CBN’s strategic investment in the company was a success, achieving its objective of turning around the fortunes of the company and returning it to profitability.

He said there were commendable indications of the progress recorded by NSPMC under the strategic engagement of CBN, adding that the Federal Government was handing over to CBN a company with tremendous potential to achieve significant growth.

“Following the expiration of the strategic investment period, CBN indicated its strong intention to acquire the company on an arm’s length basis, noting the sensitive nature of the security printing and minting services rendered by the company, which include immigration and electoral materials.

“Accordingly, after a careful consideration of the pertinent issues, the Bureau made a proposal to NCP to formalise the sale of 21 per cent of the Federal Government’s interest in the company to CBN, while government would retain an equity holding of 10.1 per cent.

Okoh announced that the transaction would contribute a net sum of over N17 billion to the treasury.”

Meanwhile, NSPM has appealed to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, to award contract for printing of 2019 general election materials. It assured that the Minting company has the capacity to handle all election materials for the 2019 elections.

Managing Director and Chief Executive of NSPM, Abbas Umar Masanawa, stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday.