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Mixed feelings trail FG’s offload of 12.4bn shares in NSPMC to CBN, BPE

The recent sale of Federal Government’s 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), has continued to elicit reactions from analysts.

Whereas some see the move as a step towards privatization of the national asset which may thereafter pose a national risk, others argue that the sudden offload of the shares means that there has been a preferred buyer which will be exposed soon.

In case BPE goes ahead to put the offloaded shares on sale, many Nigerians will see the entire move as going against the electoral promise of the current administration which said rather than selling off national assets, it will revamp them to grow the economy.

However, pointer to possible plot to sale the mint can be seen from analyzing the key remark made by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele at the signing ceremony that “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.

Besides, 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”.

He added that “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,” the Vice president averred.