By Obinna Chima
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has disclosed that the N4.4 trillion, which is owed the corporation is bigger than the entire 2021 capital expenditure budget of the federal government of Nigeria, which stands at N3.85trillion.
The amount owed the corporation is also bigger than the N3.12trillion for total foreign debt service for 2021 and personnel cost of N3.7 trillion in the federal government’s budget.
Owing to this, AMCON has called on all agencies of the federal government and all stakeholders to join its debt recovery drive to guide against the huge opportunity cost of not recovering the debt on the economy.
Of this figure, the government agency reiterated that its 350 obligors alone account for a whopping N3.6 trillion, which is 82 per cent of the outstanding exposure of N4.4trillion.
The revelations were contained in a paper by the Group Head of AMCON Enforcement, Mr. Joshua Ikioda,
presented in Abuja, which was titled: “Overview of AMCON from Cradle to Date and the Implication of the Bad Debt to the Nigerian Economy.”
He made the presentation at the just concluded 2-day training for Federal High Court Legal Assistants and Court Registrars in Abuja.
The event was declared open by Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and attended by Dr. Eberechukwu Uneze and Mr Aminu Ismail both Executive Directors of AMCON as well as Hon. Justice Nkeonye Evelyn Maha also of the Federal High Court.
Ikioda, stressed that the amount owed the corporation, if recovered would be enough to complete the revival of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company and construction of many more of such projects.
“The development of the iron and steel sector as well as the electricity sector are essential ingredients to industrialisation in any country and the debt owed AMCON can do a lot in improving electricity generation and distribution as well as revival of the challenged iron and steel sector,” a statement quoted him to have said.
AMCON MD/CEO, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, in his keynote address at the beginning of the training, said the corporation could not over flog the important role the Judiciary in national development and as such remains vital to the success of AMCON.
Kuru who was represented by Uneze said, “We are just a government recovery agency saddled with the responsibility of purchasing non-performing loans from Banks and ensuring it is paid back using the instrumentality of the law. Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be that easy, through the instrumentality of the courts as we encountered a lot of challenges.
“The obligors get wiser by the day, deliberately causing orchestrated legal delays knowing that AMCON has a sunset date. The Act was amended in 2015 to address some of the encountered challenges, again obligors got wiser, hence necessitating another amendment in 2019 all with the single objective of recovering the loans bought from banks in order to settle our debt without recourse to taxpayers money, this outstanding exposure is not a small amount of money.
“…Due to the limited lifespan of AMCON, there is a need for a speedy and simplified litigation process. The reason is clear: AMCON is a special purpose vehicle for the recovery of ‘toxic’ debts. The debts are so bad that the government had to purchase them to prevent a collapse of the economy. AMCON’s mandate is therefore to recover these debts for our common survival to be guaranteed. The rationale behind the AMCON regime is therefore to quickly recover the bad debts within a legal framework that ensures speed without compromising fair hearing.
“AMCON jurisprudence is primarily regulated by the AMCON Act 2010 (as amended in 2015 and 2019), Federal High Court Practice Directions of 2013 and The Federal High Court AMCON Rules 2018. The Directions and the Rules have introduced a new culture of expediency in determining AMCON matters at the Federal High Court. Therefore, it is imperative for you to understand the AMCON spirit, which means speed and efficiency.”