The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has lauded the Lagos-based printers Academy Press Plc for showing great confidence in the country’s economy through the investment of N2 billion in acquiring modern equipment within one year.
The Minister, who said this in Lagos on Monday while commissioning some of the equipment, expressed delight that the company has continued to grow in leaps and bounds since it commenced production 51 years ago.
“I am happy to learn that unlike some other local organisations, you have sustained your operations for over 50 years. You have not only sustained operations, you have grown with time to a world class printer that is comparable to what is available anywhere else in the world, acquiring and maintaining the best of equipment, boasting of highly-skilled personnel; up to date with modern technology and ensuring that Nigerians get nothing but the best as far as print production is concerned.
”It is also gladdening to learn that you have localised staff and management and you have a structured training system to develop skills for your own use as well as for the use of the industry,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the government will continue to create the enabling environment for the local industries to thrive and compete favourably with their foreign counterparts in order to stimulate the nation’s economy through job creation and conservation of foreign exchange.
“On our own part in the current administration, we will continue to formulate policies that will enhance and strengthen these ideals. We will encourage the industry to develop its own support raw materials such as bond, craft paper and newsprint as well as ink and other chemicals. We will provide the enabling environment for this and other industries to thrive. It is imperative that Government Agencies patronise our local Industries, and for us to read our own Nigerian-authored books, printed by our own printers. All documents, including security materials, must be printed locally to safe jobs and scarce foreign exchange.
“For the enemies of the industry, the copyright pirates, lovers of foreign products and smugglers of such, it is time they change their ways. This is because this Administration is committed to protecting copyright owners so that they can reap the fruits of their hard work,” he said.
The Minister, who was taken on a guided tour of the expansive company, saluted the vision and courage of its founding fathers, while underscoring the invaluable contribution of the Printing, Packaging and Publishing sub-sector to the nation’s economy.
“This industry used to be dominated by foreign organisations, mostly from the UK, in the colonial days and shortly after. Today, our newspaper houses are fully localised by the organised private sector, just like our book publishing and printing industry, with many of you having attained international standard. This is in line with the policy thrust of this Administration, which is to look inwards, diversify the economy and to achieve self sufficiency in all spheres of life,” he remarked.
Alhaji Mohammed decried the importation of 70% of the books used in the country when companies like the Academy Press have the capacity and competence to meet the nation’s demand for educational books and challenged players in the sub-sector to continue to engage the government on ways to reverse the trend.
In his address, the Chairman of Academy Press Plc, High Chief Simeon Olusola Oguntimehin, said the company has the capacity to produce 100 million standard books, 24 million magazines and Annual Reports and several million copies of sensitive and confidential print annually.
“Today we can boast of having one of the best printing facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. We make high volume delivery at incredible speed,” he said in his welcome address.
High Chief Oguntimehin appealed to the government to consider the print industry in the allocation of foreign exchange for the importation of raw materials and the review of some of the policies that prevented the industry from competing favourably with its foreign counterpart, particularly the high tariff imposed on raw materials used for local printing.
The printing equipment commissioned by the Minister are the Muller Martini Concepta, a six colour press with output of 40,000 impressions per hour, and the Dimuken Hologram Applicator Machine for applying hologram seal and hot foil stamping for security print and other sensitive documents.