The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said it has recorded significant progress in debt recovery since it published its top 100 delinquent debtors earlier in the year.
Speaking in Lagos, AMCON Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor said although the corporation is yet to publish new list of debtors, there has been positive developments in the areas of takeovers of assets, recoveries and resolutions. He said the corporation is in court with a good number of these obligors and could not reel out names.
On hindrances to debt recovery, he said: “There are a lot of factors. For example, we are in court with a good number of obligors and you know the wheel of justice in Nigeria grinds slowly, which presents some kind of temporary or extended cover for these debtors.
“If it is possible for the courts to give accelerated hearing to AMCON-related cases, recoveries would be a lot easier. Secondly, the harsh economic realities pose significant challenge. Nobody will shy away from the fact that the country has slipped into recession, which makes it even more difficult for both businesses and individuals.”
Continuing, he said: “If that is the situation now, then you can imagine how difficult it has become for AMCON to recover or even dispose assets. But in the face of all these challenges, AMCON is undaunted because my MD/CEO reminds every member of staff in the Corporation that AMCON’s job remains a national assignment because the success of the corporation has direct effect on the success of the Nigerian economy.”
AMCON MD’s first one year in office
Assessing AMCON Managing Director/CEO, Ahmed Kuru’s first year in office, he said:
“I believe he has achieved a lot because he sort of hit the ground running, as it were, when he assumed office on August 18, last year. He has been engaging obligors in finding permanent resolution to their debts and I can tell you that a good measure of progress has been recorded. Do not forget he is dealing with debts that were hard-core with the commercial banks in the first instance before they arrived AMCON.”
Speaking further, he said: “Aside that, he has seriously sharpened the business processes in the corporation in addition to sound corporate governance. His administration in AMCON adopted aggressive recovery strategies that have led to increased repayment from hitherto recalcitrant obligors. He has also introduced some value enhanced exit plans through partnerships with investors to revive failing companies in AMCON’s portfolio, which will attract the much sort after foreign investors to the country.”
“Part of his strategy was the introduction of Asset Management Partners (AMPs) to assist the corporation in recoveries. The AMPs are consortiums with specialist skills required to ensure recovery and debt resolution; banking, legal, valuation and accounting. The move will make it possible for AMCON to resolve over 6,000 accounts with loan balances of N100 million and below,” he said.
Nwauzor explained that within the period, AMCON has successfully divested from other intervened banks outside of the bridged banks; intervened in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN), a leading automobile manufacturer in the country, which saved a lot of jobs and guaranteed business continuity; repaid coupon on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Note totaling N241.7 billion ($1.2 billion); repaid interest on CBN Debenture totaling N15 billion ($76.3 million) as well as working to stabilise the aviation sector through key strategic interventions in some of them that are experiencing distress due to the current economic situation in the country”.
“Without sounding immodest, I am very sure President Mohammadu Buhari must be impressed with his choice of Ahmed Kuru to steer the ship of AMCON at this challenging time in the history of the country. I say that because following a request from my boss, Mr. President, a few months back, inaugurated what he called Presidential Inter-Agency Committee on recovery of loans owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. The committee is chaired by no other person than the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,” he added.
Forces against AMCON’s operations
Speaking on why some people are against AMCON and its activities despite its achievements in the industry, the AMCON spokesman said: “I would like you to take a critical look at the crop of individuals that are against AMCON; they fall within the category of die-hard debtors, who contributed in destabilising the Nigerian economy. Well-meaning Nigerians are happy with AMCON activities except a few that are heavily indebted, but trying hard to circumvent the law.”
Furthermore, he said: “Again, mention one disgruntled person that is not on the list of AMCON debtors. Those assets AMCON took over, which sparked off the spate of so-called attacks on AMCON, were done after we have explored all avenues and channels of peaceful resolutions; having fulfilled due judicial procedures. But unfortunately for them, sponsoring media articles against AMCON or hiring the ‘so-called industry experts’ will not erase the huge debt they owe the corporation and I am sure you know that such campaigns of calumny only strengthens our MD because he is not deterred and will never be deterred by such distractions.”
On whether AMCON will takeover more businesses
Speaking on the likelihood of the corporation taking over more businesses in the last quarter of this financial year, Nwauzor said: “It all depends on a number of legal and business dynamics. What I know is that AMCON will continue to take careful steps in discharging its assignments within the ambit of the law. In a subtle manner, the corporation will aggressively and decisively coerce all delinquent debtors to the path of resolution, especially now that we are in an era where sacred cows are no longer recognised or celebrated in Nigeria. Remember that Kuru proved himself as a change agent and a turn-around expert before arriving AMCON. He will replicate the same feat in AMCON.
“AMCON, more than ever before, has sharpened its resolution mechanism. However, obligors are given the opportunity to come forward; otherwise the full extent of the AMCON Act would be applied without favours.”
Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy
Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.
This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.
Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.
According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.
He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.
“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.
“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.
“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.
“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.
“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.
“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.
“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.
Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.
Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.
Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.
The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.
He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.
He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.
Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.
She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.
“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.
“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.
“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.
“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)
Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.
By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.
The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.
There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.
Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.
He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”
The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.
The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.
The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.
After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”
The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.
Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
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