From Uche Usim, Abuja
As hopes of recovering outstanding N4.4 trillion debt dim, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has cried out to all relevant government agencies and stakeholders to join its debt recovery drive as failure to achieve this golden objective will further wreck the economy.
AMCON raised the alarm in a statement released on Sunday, explaining that chronic debtors have designed smart ways of evading payment and arrest.
It expressed worries that the outstanding debt of N4.4 trillion owed it was higher than the entire budget of the 36 States and larger than the 2021 capital expenditure budget of the federal government, which stands at N3.85trillion.
The Corporation also noted that the debt is also bigger than the N3.12trillion for total foreign debt service for 2021 and personnel cost of N3.7trillion.
Of this figure, AMCON disclosed that its 350 obligors alone account for a whopping N3.6trillion, which is 82% of the outstanding exposure of N4.4trillion, which 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.
Similarly, AMCON added that the huge debt if recovered would be enough to capitalize over 2 million MSMEs with N2 million cash injection each or 200,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with N20 million per SME, which would create over 10 million jobs in the country.
By so doing, the agency said thousands of unemployed youths who are involved with all sorts of violent crimes would be engaged positively.
With all these facts and its negative effect to the economy, the Corporation explained that it would not be fair to allow this crop of obligors that have collectively destroyed the commonwealth of Nigerians escape justice, which is why it is calling on all sister agencies to support the recovery drive. AMCON assured that it is determined to recover these debts because the money belongs to Nigerian taxpayers.
At a recent training workshop for judges, Mr Ahmed Kuru, AMCON’s Chief Executive Officer, in his keynote address reiterated the important role the Judiciary in national development, saying it remains vital to the success of AMCON.
Kuru who was represented by Dr 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”.