By Stephen Ubanna
The era of Individuals or Corporate organisations taking multi-billion naira contracts and collecting mobilization fees from government agencies without executing the job is over.
For years the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, which Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director had said is saddled with the responsibility of purchasing non-performing loans from banks and ensuring that it is paid back by using the instrumentality of the Law may not have not been successful. This is because the over 105 Obligators were said to have been using the instrumentality of the Courts to frustrate the AMCON officials effort.
’’.Some of the notable Corprate debtors going by AMCON records include Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, which has Ifeayi Uba, an Anambra state born politician, as its Chairman, N116 billion, NICON Investments Limited, owned by Jimoh Ibrahim, a Lawyer and Politician, N59.54 billion, Wale Babalaki, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN , owned Company, Bi-Courtney Limited,owing about N41 billion, Tinapa Business Resort, owned by the Cross river state government, N36 billion, Geometric Power Limited, owned by Barth Nnanji, a Professor, and eight others including three Corporate Organisations ,N29.84 billion, Royalgate Properties Limited, also owned by Babalakin, and three others, N28.14 billion.
This is in addition to Home Trust Savings, debt of N30 bn, Petrologistics Limited, which has one Ugoji Egbujo as its promoter, owing about N20 billion, Lorna Global Resources, which has Chimaroke Nnamani, a former governor of Enugu state as its promotor, owing about N18.92billion and Riverside Logistics Limited also, owned by Nnamani, owing N5.874 billion.
There are indications that Osigwe Foods and Agro Industries, which have as its promoters , Mohammed Anselm, and Kayode Raji Usman owed N5.65 billion. Afro-Arab Investment Limited, N5.34 billion, Al-Kahf Motorcycle Cmpany Limited, N4.067 billion, Madunka Motorcycle Company Limited, N3.56 billion Aquitane Oil and Gas, N2.64 billion and Bellview Airlines Limited, floated by one Kayode Odukoya, a retired Air Vice Marshall,AVM, and Emmanuel Ombu, which had Collapsed with about N2.258 billion, hanging on their neck. Some of the debts may have turned out to be a bad one. A bad debt, according to Chambers Dictionary definitions , are ’’debts that could never be recovered and is therefore written off as a loss’’.
Take for instance the N39.o56 billion owed by Josepdam &Sons Limited, which has Late Mrs. Josephine Damilola KuteyiSaheed Kuteyi, one of the Concessionaires at the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, controlled Tin can Island port in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center and that of late Chief Margret Idisi N20.218 billion may be seen as bad debts but the Companies are still functioning.
This may have informed why AMCON, has called on the government agencies and stakeholders owed by these Individuals and Corpporate Organisations to join the Corporation debt recovery drive ‘’to guide against the huge opportunity cost of not recovering the total current debt exposure’’.
Insiders informed The Value News Magazine that AMCON , had invited the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, NPA, and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Authorities, to join in the debt recovery drive because of the difficulty in getting the debtors who were said to be using the instrumentality of the Court process to frustrate their efforts.
The AMCON Enforcement officials who fears that ‘’the recalcitrant obligators are getting wiser by the day not’’to pay their debts by deliberately causing orchestrated legal delays’’ believes that something needed to done urgently to force the obligators to settle their indebtedness . But the agency Authorities has vowed that ‘’it would not allow these crop of Nigerian debtors to escape Justice’’, insisting that it must recover the debts because ‘’the money belongs to taxpayers’’.
This is a bad news for the Nigerians who had been living a high flier life over the years without thinking on how to fund their huge indebtedness s to the government agencies .The situation is very worrisome going by the revelation of AMCON, that the current debt exposure owed the government agencies stands at N4.4 trillion, which according to Joshua Ikioda , the Agency ,Group Head, Enforcement, belong to the Nigerian tax payers. Ikioda, had told those that cares to listen that there is no going back on the debt recovery drive to fine- tune the Nigeria economy.
Going by the AMCON officials analysis of the N4.4 trillion outstanding debt owed the economy, they noted that ‘’it is more than the entire budget of the 36 states of the Federation and the 2021 Capital expenditure budget of the Federal government which stands at N3.85 trillion. The agency also stated that it is bigger that the N3.12 trillion set aside for total foreign debt servicing and personnel cost of N3.7 trillion by President Muhammadu Buhari this year.
The Federal government debt recovery Corporation had said that ‘’if the bad debts to the economy, which had been lingering over the years could be recovered, it would be sloughed back to the economy to facilitate the revival of the nation’s iron and steel sector which is key to the country’s industrialisation. It will equally do a lot in improving the country’s electricity generation and distribution, the agency said.
More interesting is the agency’s decision that that part of the N4.4 trillion debt when recovered would be enough to Capitalise over two million Micro businesses with N2million cash injection each and two hundred thousand Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, with N20 million each, that expected to go a long way to create no fewer than 10 million jobs in the country.
Perhaps to recover the N4.4 trillion debt , which AMCON , officials had said would be injected back into the economy, the Act establishing the government agency was said to have been amended in 2015 under the the Katsina state born Nigerian President. The Act was said to have been amended to address some of the encountered Challenges by the officials involved in the debt recovery drive . The Act was said to have been further amended in 2019, with the single Objective of recovering the loans obtained from the Banks in order to settle the debts without recourse to the taxpayers money.
Eberechukwu Uneze, an AMCON , Executive Director, had described the 2019 , amendment as a ‘’robust attempt to address the shortcomings in the erstwhile AMCON Instruments, of 2010 which was the Principal enactment and 2015 amendment.The AMCON, Executive Director, had said that the 2019, amendment became ‘’necessary because of the difficulty in recovering the debts from the recalcitrant debtors who constantly try to avoid , circumvent and totally deny Commitments and obligations’’ to settle thei debts. According to him, the Obligators instead of agreeing in settling their indebtedness to the government agencies, particular, NNPC, NPA and FAAN, had’’ resorted to technicalities to frustrate the Corporation from acting against them’’.
An aggrieved Kuru, the AMCON, Managing Director, had said the debts are so bad that the government agency had to purchase the loans from banks to prevent the Collapse of the economy. The good news is that the amended AMCON Act had given it wider powers that are disconnected from Common sense and Convention to deal with the debtors.
It is not surprising why the Corporation has embarked on a sensitization Campaign by engaging the services of the Court Registrars and Legal Assistants to the Judges of the Federal High Courts. The training , Fatihu Abba- led Legal Academy said was designed ‘’to enlighten the Court Registrars and Legal Assistants on the AMCON mandate to ensure its effective and efficient realisation’’ without sabotage.