To boost the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON’s) ability to recover high-profile debts estimated at N5trillion, the Federal Government has resolved to bar debtor companies/individuals from its official businesses.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who dropped the hint at the weekend, disclosed plans by government to set up an inter-agency collaboration framework comprising relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and supervised by his office, to ensure that such debtors are not allowed to do business with government henceforth.
Osinbajo, also the Chairman of the Economic Council, further assured that government would deal decisively with individuals and organisations on the debtor list, seeing as they have made it impossible for AMCON to resolve the outstanding debt, thereby holding the entire nation and economy to ransom with their bad behaviour.
The Vice President, who spoke when he received some AMCON Board and Management team at the State House, Abuja, led by the Board Chairman, Dr. Muiz Banire, said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Government will no longer fold its hands and allow a few debtor individuals to continue to walk freely in the country. He said: “I think the time has come for us to set some examples with some of these top debtors of AMCON, which I believe will set a good example and serve as deterrent to others.”
Against this backdrop, he said the AMCON team and other relevant MDAs will be invited in a matter of days, to discuss and fine-tune plans on how to ensure that any debtor agency or individual, whom he described as direct enemies, are squarely made to face the wrath of the government.
Meanwhile, Osinbajo, said he was impressed with the performance of the Ahmed Lawan Kuru-led AMCON management for the recovery successes achieved so far against all odds, while also promising all necessary support to enable it apprehend the remaining debtors.
He said: “I congratulate AMCON for the work done so far having recovered over N1trillion, and counting both in cash and in assets. The work you do as a recovery agency is not something that is particularly easy or encouraging because we all know how Nigeria works. But we are committed to working more closely with your administration to ensure that these monies are recovered from AMCON obligors because it will help our economy and provide the government with more money to continue to improve on the development of infrastructure across the nation.”
Acknowledging Osinbajo’s support for AMCON over the years, Kuru, said he is upbeat for the take-off of the planned inter-agency collaboration, so that no obligor, no matter how highly-placed, is allowed to go scot-free, as failure to recover the debts may result in serious consequences, including recourse to tax payers’ money, which must be avoided.
Earlier, team leader, Dr. Banire, had congratulated him and President Buhari on their recent victory at the polls, and highlighted some of the challenges and frustrations faced by AMCON as a result of the attitudes of some debtors, who behave as if they are above the law.
Calling on the government to rally round AMCON to enable it succeed in its mission, Banire said: “AMCON has been able to recover over N1 trillion since inception to 2018 year end. Out of the recovered sum, cash accounted for 60% while non-cash assets such as properties and equity securities accounted for the balance of 40%. Over the same period, AMCON’s repayment of its indebtedness to the CBN was over N1 trillion.
“As at end of December, 2018, AMCON’s Assets Under Management (AUM) amounted to about N172.5 billion. It is noteworthy to state that out of the total real estate properties, assets available for sale is valued at N62 billion. Of this N62 billion about 83% comprises of bare land and other assets, which may need considerable improvements to convert into income generating assets. Your Excellency may recall that in September 2018 following the takeover of Skye Bank Plc. by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), AMCON was again invited to inject a total sum of NN898.45 billion as capital thereby leading to the emergence of another bridged bank named Polaris Bank Limited.
“The intervention in Skye Bank was caused majorly by internal abuse by the operators. As a result of that development, AMCON’s total debt obligation to the CBN, is currently in excess of N6 trillion. And it is evident that the Federal Government cannot afford to write off this debt in the short term, hence, our moral obligation to pursue obligors and recover the debts owed. But, despite the successes recorded, the Corporation has been facing a number of challenges, which include obligors resorting to all manner of tactics to avoid honouring their obligations. Whilst some are still enjoying government patronage, others are using the judiciary and adopting on legal technicalities to stall recovery, which is why we need a new strategy to enable AMCON meet its mandate before sunset.”