N3.6 Trillion Debt To AMCON Can Create 10 Million Jobs In Nigeria, Revive Ajaokuta Steel Mill

Yemisi Izuora

The Management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has traced N3.6 trillion debt to 350 debtors, a huge amount that can create 10 million jobs for Nigerians.

Oriental News Nigeria, also reports that the amount is higher than the N3.12 trillion set aside this year by the Federal Government for debt servicing.

AMCON is of the opinion that the N3.6 trillion, if recovered, would equally be enough to complete the revival of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State, capitalise over two million Micro-businesses with N2 million each or 200,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with N20 million per SME.

AMCON added that by so doing over 10 million jobs could be created in the country, thereby taking unemployed youths off the streets.

AMCON Group Head of AMCON Enforcement, Joshua Ikioda, disclosed this at two-day training for Federal High Court Legal Assistants and Court Registrars in Abuja at the weekend.

He spoke on the theme: “Overview of AMCON from Cradle to Date and the Implication of the Bad Debt to the Nigerian Economy.”

Although Ikioda did not name any of the debtors, he said they represent  80 per cent of the N4.4 trillion of the total outstanding debt to the corporation.

The Enforcement group head called on all agencies of the Federal Government and all stakeholders to join AMCON’s debt recovery efforts  to guide against the huge opportunity cost of not recovering it

He said: ”This colossal outstanding debt of N4.4 trillion is bigger than the N3.85 trillion capital expenditure budget of the federal government of Nigeria in 2021. It is also bigger than the  N3.12 trillion total foreign debt service and  N3.7 trillion personnel cost for the year,” he said.

“It is also bigger than the N3.12 trillion for total foreign debt service for 202.”

The AMCON, created in 2010 as a result of the global economic crises of 2008/2009 which led to several non-performing loans (NPLs) that crippled banks’ balance sheet positions, initially bought NPLs worth N5.4 trillion from the deposit money banks.

The AMCON mandate was to recover the NPLs from the recalcitrant debtors, mainly billionaires cut across several sectors of the economy- oil and gas, manufacturing, mining among others, and return the funds to government coffers to support the economy.

After over nine years into its operation, AMCON has recovered only N1 trillion through assets seizures, forfeiture or cash payments.

The  Amended AMCON Act, which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, gave AMCON sweeping powers to recover debts owed by obligors.

In his keynote address during the training, AMCON Managing Director/CEO Ahmed Kuru said “the instrumentality of the courts” posed huge challenges to the corporation’s debt recovery efforts.

He 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.”.

Kuru, who was represented by AMCON Executive Director, Eberechukwu Uneze, said the obligors are getting wiser by the day and are deliberately causing orchestrated legal delays knowing that AMCON has a sunset date.

He added: “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.

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