From left: National President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce NACC, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe; Dame Debola Williams; Managing Director/CEO, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Ahmed Kuru; Vice President, NACC, Mr. Ehi Braimah; Director-General NACC, Mrs. Joyce Akpata and Honourary Vice President, NACC Alhaji Abayomi Adigun at the NACC’s July 2019 breakfast meeting held in Lagos, Wednesday.

Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria AMCON, has said that many of its high profile debtors, who constitute the over N5trillion debt stock of the corporation are serving members of the National Assembly, Ministers, chairmen and women of big organisations as well as pro-chancellors of universities, among several other top positions.

Describing this ugly development as saddening, Managing Director/CEO of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, however disclosed that the corporation is working with other sister agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ICPC, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation NDIC to produce a full length television documentary of the notorious and recalcitrant obligors.

The AMCON MD who was guest speaker at the just concluded July 2019 edition of the breakfast meeting, organised by the Nigerian – American Chamber of Commerce NACC in Lagos Wednesday, said the idea was to document in a permanent format for generations yet unborn to know the so-called big men and women that are behind the over N5trillion debt burden, which AMCON is battling to recover.

He regretted that while the commission is working assiduously in collaboration with sister agencies including the judiciary to ensure that these debts were recovered, many of these unscrupulous debtors find their ways into the corridors of power as ministers, members of the National Assembly and other top organisations in the country.

“The worrisome aspect of issue, unlike what happens in other climes is that these obligors still manipulate their way to emerge as members of the National Assembly, ministers, chairmen and women of big organisations and Pro-Chancellors of universities.

“Sadly, these are the type of people we respect in Nigeria but these people are not role models. How can you be a role model when you cannot honour a simple obligation? That is why I have been consistent in the call for the return of the Failed Bank Act. The way we are handling the issue in the country suggests that we are encouraging a lot of financial rascality. People have to be held accountable for their actions, which I believe would serve as a deterrent to others.

“All economies all over the world depend on the financial infrastructure for growth. If we allow or encourage the destruction of the basis of our financial structure, then the economy would not grow. These are men and women who go to banks borrow monies with no intention to pay and in the process bring down banking institutions. It takes a lot for a bank to fail. AMCON just rescued Skye Bank with an investment of nearly N1trillion. In a decent society, those who are irresponsible are supposed to be held accountable.

“We are talking about recovering over N5trillion debt, which sits with the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN and we know that the Federal Government through the CBN cannot afford to write off these debts, so we just have to recover them. With such huge recovery, the country can do a lot in the areas of infrastructure development in energy, rail lines, health, road construction, and a whole lot more. To enable you understand the magnitude of what we are talking about, only 350 individuals account for 80 per cent of the debt amounting to N4.6trillion,” the MD said.

He however partly blamed the inability of the corporation to deal decisively with this crop of obligors on the Act establishing the corporation, which does not empower it to arrest and prosecute these debtors as it is the case with some other agencies of the government.

“As an organisation, AMCON lacks the statutory powers to arrest these debtors, many of who are ‘powerful’ people and so we depend largely on judicial processes to recover and we all know the slow pace of judicial processes.

“Given our sunset date, which is around 2023/24; we are determined to go after these obligors within the ambit of the law in line with the AMCON Act. Already, we have changed our strategy to more of enforcement, because the negotiations have failed. We now want to go a step further by working with the ICPC and the EFCC, which will enable us to go investigate the credit processes. If we do not establish this deterrent, we are likely to go round the era of NPL circle again,” Kuru stated.   

The AMCON boss urged members of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce to lead the campaign for the strengthening of corporate governance structures in both the financial services industry and other sectors of the economy as lack of it destroys institutions and organisations. “Your chamber must be in the forefront to champion good corporate governance structures; you must preach that people must learn how to meet their obligations; people must obey the rule of law and be transparent in their dealings with others. Above all, we must promote the culture of holding people accountable, especially the leadership class in both politics and business”, he also said.