AMCON takes over Aeroland Travels’ assets over N1.8bn debt

By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

Attempts by the government to collect the N4 trillion owed AMCON by sundry Nigerians may again fallen through as the deadline given the debtors to pay up or have their names published in national dailies as chronic debtors elapsed at the end of the year.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, last week said it has exercised enough patience with the chronic bad debtors; in spite of the National Assembly giving go ahead to publish the names of bad debtors.

What led to this angst on the part of assets recovery agency is the continued defiance of the National Assembly, and the open daring of AMCON itself by the chronic debtors.

AMCON said it is now ready to publish names of 7,912 debtors owing it a total of N4.4tn, now in deference to the National Assembly, having been rebuffed by some of these debtors.

The latest development is sequel to the expiration of the 30-day ultimatum given by the National Assembly to debtors to come clean of their debt status with the bad debt manager, and the complete defiance of the ultimatum shown by these debtors.

The one month notice expired on Wednesday, January 5, 2021.

According to AMCON’s spokesperson, Mr. Jude Nwauzor, debtors who were yet to make available to the recovery agency repayment proposal would have to contend with having their details published in the media after the 30-day grace period given by the National Assembly, a date that lapsed last week.

In an interview with a another daily a week before the expiration date, Nwauzor was quoted as saying, “AMCON has taken the decision to publish already. The decision has been taken already. It is a directive from the National Assembly. As a responsible corporate citizen, this was why we published an advertorial to warn all the entities concerned that their names will be published at the expiration of the ultimatum. The one month grace period will be expiring on January 5, 2021.”

He further stated that out of a total of 12, 743 non-performing loans AMCON inherited 4, 831 debtors have settled their indebtedness, making out a difference of 7,912 outstanding debtors.

But as the deadline expired last week, the agency is yet to live up to its resolve to publish the names of 7,912 debtors owing the agency N4.4tn.

Giving teeth to the agency’s determination to abide by the National Assembly’s decision on the matter, Nwauzor said, “If you recall that before we went for the Christmas holiday, the National Assembly asked us to publish a list of debtors. However, the management of AMCON felt that to avoid a situation whereby people would say we took them by surprise, there was a need to do an advertorial. That was why we put adverts to warn that after the expiration of the deadline, the names would be published. We bought 12,743 loans, but as of now, about 4,831 have been resolved. The outstanding is now7,912. These outstanding debtors are owing us N4.4tn.”

BusinessHallmark learnt that anytime from next week, AMCON would publish the names, as it had finalised arrangements to publish the complete list of individuals, and institutions on its non-performing loans portfolio in the national dailies.

Recall that early December, Uba Sani, Chairman Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, had directed the corporation to publish the names of all debtors, including popular Nigerians as the government stepped up efforts to drive debt recovery.

The genesis of the National Assembly’s intervention was the formal reporting of the bad debtors owing N3.96tn to National Assembly in September last year.

Following the intervention by the legislature, which empowered AMCON to give the debtors a timeline of 30 days, the agency consequently gave the debtors between December 6, 2021, and January 5, 2021, to provide formidable repayment proposal or risk the embarrassment of having their names published as directed by the National Assembly.

In a revealing document made available to the House of Representatives and the Senate last December, Ahmed Kuru, AMCON’s Chief Executive Officer, it was made known that about 83 percent of the total NPL portfolio of N4.4tn was being owned by 350 debtors.

Speaking on the matter last Tuesday, Nwauzor stated that “Before we went on vacation, a good number of debtors who will not want their name published have been discussing with the relevant departments within AMCON.

“What will happen now is a compilation of those who have not come forward. After that, we will get management’s approval to publish. It will be published!

“You know, left to the National Assembly, they wanted the names published immediately after we engaged with them last month. But as a responsible organisation, AMCON felt that it is proper to give people a final warning so that nobody will say they were taken unawares.

“So what we did was to play the role of a responsible organisation. Even though the National Assembly has approved that we go ahead and publish the names, let us also warn people about what will happen.

Backstory

Last September, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) submitted a list of its top 1,000 obligors to the National Assembly, in the move by the assets recovery agency to recover debts owed it.

The names of the chronic debtors were then made available to the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency at a retreat of the committee in Lagos.

At that time, many analysts had said the submission of the names to the legislature was a momentous development, just coming days after President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amendment) Act.

The AMCON Act provides for the extension of the tenor of the Resolution Cost Fund (RCF) and grants access to the Special Tribunal established by the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act 2020, which confers on AMCON the power to among others… “to take possession, manage, foreclose or sell, transfer, assign or otherwise deal with the asset or property used as security for Eligible Bank Assets (EBAs), and related matters.’’

Victor Nwokolo, the chairman House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, who received the list from AMCON’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Lawan Kuru, stated that the committee called for the names to enable the National Assembly know those holding the country to ransom, and devise ways of recovering the debts.

He said the harsh economic realities caused by COVID-19 meant that the recovery assignment AMCON is doing for the country has been further compounded, which is why the National Assembly is looking at ways of further supporting the recovery drive of AMCON.

Nwokolo declared that the National Assembly would not hesitate in considering punitive measures to punish those whose names made the top 1,000 AMCON debtors’ list, adding that he was happy that the President had just signed the Amended AMCON Act into Law because it would assist AMCON to recover the huge outstanding debt, which will ensure that the aim of the Federal Government of Nigeria in setting up AMCON in 2010 is not defeated.

Speaking on the matter, Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, director of Entrepreneurship at Redeemers University said ” AMCON should go ahead and publish immediately the names of those holding us to ransom as no individual is too big to be brought to account. I believe naming and shaming them will act as deterrent to others.

This view is also shared by professor Ahmed Ohiare of the Department of Economics, Kogi State University, who told BusinessHallmark that “There is no need for the delay in publishing the names. AMCON should do it right away, sweeping it under carpet or being pressured not to do it will be counter productive and will show that we are not a serious nation.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here