AMCON: How N4.4 Trillion Debts Killed Nigerian Economy And Plans To Revive The SMEs, Iron And Steel sector To Create More Jobs

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.

Kuru: MD, amcon, Embarks On N4.4 trn Debt Recovery Drive To Revive The 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.  

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