Barely one week after the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions called on Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to issue an Executive Order on seizure of assets of persons who are indebted to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon. Sir Jones Chukwudi Onyereri has stated that the House of Representatives under the able leadership of Rt. Hon. Speaker, Yakubu Dogara will work with the Senate for a quick passage of the AMCON amendment Bill, which will ensure the Corporation gets all needed support from the National Assembly to meet its mandate.
Hon. Onyereri who was addressing his colleagues in the Ancient City of Kano at the opening of a 3-day retreat said given the sunset date of AMCON, which he stated was created by the government not to operate in perpetuity, the National Assembly, the executive and the judiciary must ensure that the recovery agency of government meets its obligation within the expected and acceptable timeframe. He said, “Earlier this year, we had a public hearing and a technical session on the AMCON amendment Bill. The Report on the Bill is out and will soon be presented before the House.”
“This shows our commitment in ensuring that AMCON gets all the support it can get from the National Assembly in carrying out its mandate. This Bill is very important and we promise to work with the Senate in ensuring a quick passage of the Bill. As we are all aware, AMCON was not created to exist in perpetuity. There is a sunset date for AMCON and it is expected to have achieved its mandate before the sunset date. Therefore, and more importantly, we are here to interact with AMCON to see how we can further help in making sure that AMCON achieves this mandate for the common good of the country.”
According to the Chairman, the lawmakers are happy that AMCON as an interventionist institution of the Federal Government, especially under its present management, has performed above board, but are worried that the Corporation is often constrained by institutional and legal stumbling blocks that have continued to hinder them from achieving optimum results especially since public funds were used to buy these loans that helped prevent the EFIs from going under. As a matter of public urgency, he stated that AMCON needs to recover these monies, just as there is a need to sensitize the courts on the need for speedy resolution of AMCON cases.
In his remarks, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, who did not hide the fact that AMCON needs support at this critical time in the life of the Corporation further informed members of the House Committee that obligors of the Corporation are getting bolder by the day and employing all kinds of tricks to tie AMCON up in court. He said AMCON today has over 3,000 cases and counting in different courts across the country with obligors who have the means to pay; are still doing business with other names but have vehemently refused to pay what they owe AMCON. He, therefore, said that AMCON having achieved remarkable milestones in the last seven and half years of its creation, is willing to deliver even more if given the needed support from all key stakeholders such as the legislature, the judiciary, the executive among others.
Presenting an abridged highlight of the Corporation’s achievements in the last seven and half years Kuru again said, “AMCON has fully redeemed all Federal Government guaranteed bonds issued to the commercial banks for purchase of non-performing loans. The face value of the bonds was N3.7 trillion; the banks became stable and were able to support businesses; AMCON has successfully divested from the three bridge banks—Mainstreet, Enterprise and, Keystone banks; AMCON has recorded total recoveries worth N975billion of which cash and assets account for 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively; Out of the total number of Eligible Bank Assets (EBAs) acquired, AMCON has fully resolved approximately 4,300 leaving approximately 8,400 and AMCON intervened in key sectors of the economy such as aviation and agriculture.”
Providing additional insight into the challenges now faced by the Corporation, the AMCON boss said, “These achievements came at a significant cost of human and material resources. It seems the energy required to make progress now, is a lot more than what was expended before, both in terms of legal, legislation and human resources. Obligors are smarter, desperate, more aggressive and recalcitrant. This calls for a need to revisit the AMCON Act which governs our operations.”
In his prayers to the House Committee, Kuru further submitted that, “One of the major areas for amendment is the matter of vesting proprietary interest of all collateral assets acquired by AMCON from commercial banks. The proposed amendment will have retrospective effect. The vesting of proprietary interest of all collateral assets in the resolution vehicle was implemented in Malaysia and was instrumental to their success in recovering debt obligations.
“Our second challenge has to do with the disposal of assets due to the economic downturn. AMCON’s current Assets Under Management (AUM), that is assets obtained from debt resolution, has a book value of N182 billion, which we are unable to sell. Our ability to successfully divest these assets, at competitive market price, is severely hampered by several factors including valuation methodology, unperfected title documents, state of the economy, purchasing power etc. Our third challenge is the uncooperative attitudes of select obligors who are either unwilling and/or unable to settle their indebtedness. Such debtors prefer to resort to all manner of diversionary tactics as opposed to dealing with the problem of their indebtedness. It seems most of them are buying time, to where we do not know!”
“It is evident that we have exhausted the low hanging fruits and have to roll up our sleeves for a drawn out battle as it becomes harder to get obligors to settle their debts. To clarify, obligors indebted to AMCON for the sum of N1.3 trillion have sued us in various courts in Nigeria raising technicalities to avoid meeting their obligations. This has hampered our recovery efforts and our objective of obtaining the best achievable financial returns on assets acquired from the banks,” Kuru concluded.