BY KAYODE OGUNWALE
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru has said the recovery of over N5 trillion bad debts in its books should be seen as a collective responsibility of all Nigerians.
Speaking when he received cadets from the Accounting Department of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), officers and men, as well as lecturers from the academy led by Brigadier-General Ibrahim Mohammed Jallo, the Academy Registrar, Kuru said this is contrary to expectations that AMCON alone would fully recover the debts before its oncoming sunset.
In its zeal to recover the debt, he said AMCON changed its recovery strategy from negotiation to enforcement with the creation of the Asset Management Partners (AMPs) scheme. This, besides recovering over N1 trillion, this intervention in the banking sector protected thousands of jobs, said, besides creating thousands of other, in addition to creating 9,000 direct and indirect employment as well.
According to a statement by the corporation, the cadets visited AMCON on an excursion as part of visits to selected financial institutions where they are given the opportunity to match theory with practical realities of accounting principles in the outside world.
Kuru, who was represented by the Executive Director, Assets, Dr. Eberechukwu Uneze, lamented the attitude of typical AMCON recalcitrant debtors, urging stakeholders, including the military and other security agencies to support ongoing efforts.
The current behavior of the debtors, he said reflects the nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian populace, warning that failure to recover the debt means that the government would somehow, someday, repay with taxpayers’ money.
Such negative disposition by debtors, he continued, is responsible for the rascality experienced in the banking sector, which led to the creation of AMCON in 2010.
For him, those who think the challenge of recovering the huge debt is the sole headache of AMCON should rather rethink, because the monies actually belong to Nigerian taxpayers.
Recall that the bonds which AMCON issued to buy the toxic debts off banks enjoy the Federal Government’s (sovereign) guaranty.
The money, with which the government would repay the debts, the AMCON boss continued, could have been used to provide or improve infrastructure across the country.
He insisted that AMCON has remarkably done well against all odds since it was established and is not resting on its oars to ensure that these debtors pay what they owe the nation.
Continuing, he stressed that “with the AMP scheme, AMCON is laying a solid foundation for the stability of the financial sector because we are gradually and systemically grooming professionals that will take over the job of AMCON at sunset. Our thinking is that at the end of this assignment as mandated by the law, we would have trained highly experienced and professional agents with the requisite capacity and know-how to continue to function as asset managers in the country. This is because AMCON was not established to stay forever because that will encourage bad behaviour in banks. It also has a moral hazard, which is not good for our economy and the country,” he concluded.
While appreciating the efforts of AMCON’s management, Brigadier-General Jallo spoke of the need for collaboration between the corporation and the NDA in terms of staff training, among other areas of partnership for a mutually beneficial relationship.
He said the cadets were part of the 68 Regular Course in the Accounting Department of the NDA who were on the verge of graduating from the academy and have also visited other government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) across four states, in line with the desire to ensure well-rounded graduates.