The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Lawan Kuru, has lamented that some prominent men and women responsible for the over N5trillion debt burden, which the corporation is battling to recover, “manipulate their way to emerge as members of the national assembly, ministers, chairmen and women of big organisations and pro-chancellors of universities.”
The AMCON MD, who stated this at the July 2019 edition of a Breakfast Meeting organised by the Nigerian – American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) in Lagos yesterday, also regretted that the recalcitrant debtors were the sort people respected in the Nigerian society.
He disclosed that the corporation was 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 said debtors for the benefit of generations yet unborn .
Kuru said: “Sadly, these are the calibre 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 suggest that we are encouraging a lot of financial rascality. People have to be held accountable for their actions, which I believe would serve as 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 responsible 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 the debt off so we just have to recover. With such huge recovery, the country can do a lot in the areas of infrastructure development in energy, rail line, 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.”
Speaking on AMCON’s inability to deal with the obligors, Kuru, who was guest speaker at the event, told his audience that the Act establishing the corporation did not empower it to arrest and prosecute people like some other agencies of government.
“As AMCON, we have no power to arrest these ‘powerful’ people as 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.
He 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 noted.