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.”
2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.
But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”
Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.
The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.
INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.
INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.
Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.
“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.
“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”
No Plans To Relocate AFRICOM HQ To Nigeria Or Any Part Of Africa- U.S. Replies Buhari
The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to The PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms. Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
China Urges U.N. States Not to Attend Xinjiang Event Next Week
China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday.
“It is a politically-motivated event,” China’s U.N. mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday. “We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.”
China charged that the organizers of the event, which also include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use “human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China’s development.”
“They are obsessed with provoking confrontation with China,” the note said, adding that “the provocative event can only lead to more confrontation.”
The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Britain are due to address the virtual U.N. event on Wednesday, along with Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard.
The aim of the event is to “discuss how the U.N. system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang,” according to an invitation.
Western states and rights groups have accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uyghurs in camps, which the United States has described as genocide. In January, Washington banned the import of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labor.
Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training centers to combat religious extremism.
“Beijing has been trying for years to bully governments into silence but that strategy has failed miserably, as more and states step forward to voice horror and revulsion at China’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said on Friday.
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