AMCON SHOULD NAME THE CHRONIC DEBTORS NOW.
“Law is injustice codified; it protects the idle rich against the exploited poor.”
Essay by a Noble writer, c. 1750. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, which acquired about 13,800 non-performing loans from banks in 2010 eventually had N5trillion debt to recover from the debtors nationwide. Some notorious deadbeats are indebted to more than one bank. The N5trillion involved is more than double the loans the Federal Government will be incurring this year to support the 2019 budget.
The measure by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to create AMCON, at the time saved approximately 14,000 jobs nationwide. That was at the rate of N3.5 million per job saved. It is highly debateable if it made economic sense to spend so much to save jobs when some of them were later lost to technology in the banking sector.
What is not in doubt was the fact that Federal Government’s intervention prevented the banking system from systemic collapse at the time. More than two million jobs would have been lost if that had occurred. In fact, there was no alternative to government’s intervention.
The problem started with the law establishing AMCON and the appointment of the managers of the corporation. It is quite possible, but doubtful, that the FG was under the wrong impression that Nigeria’s debtors and the corrupt bankers who allowed them to pile up those debts are like debtors elsewhere — US for instance – whose governments had to step in to save their own banking sector from collapse as well. Most of the toxic debts taken over by governments worldwide have been liquidated. Nigeria remains the lone example where very little progress has been made almost ten years after for four reasons.
The CBN had been reluctant to publish the names of the major culprits – many of who are the pillars of the Organised Private Sector. They are the guys flying around in private jets while the vast majority of fellow Nigerians wallow in extreme poverty and the country is now the poverty capital of the world. The funds we need for development are stuck in a few pockets and the CBN knows them but the central bank is hampered by lack of political will by government.
The Federal Government is also aware of them. But, many of them have ensured that they stay close to the corridors of power and influence decisions in their own favour. Government is aware that the law which created AMCON is defective and has made it almost impossible for AMCON to seize and dispose of the assets pledged as collaterals. Consequently, AMCON is only holding worthless pieces of paper and very few assets. The assets are still with the wilful debtor. The name ASSETS Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON is a misnomer. The organisation does not in fact exist. Nigeria, unlike other nations, had created a ghost corporation to collect N5 trn owed to 190 million Nigerians – mostly poor by a few stupendously wealthy; if only on paper.
The FG should have amended the law creating AMCON to give it more backbone and more teeth. Instead of going after its debtors that way, the FG goes around cap in hand and gets Nigeria more deeply into debt. The FG is taking the easy way out.
“A’Court nullifies AMCON’s takeover of firm’s property”. News report.
Next to the CBN and the FG, the best friends of the chronic debtors of AMCON are members of the judiciary. The story which appeared on Saturday July 27, 2019 is representative of the way the Nigerian judiciary had been cuddling the debtors. Virtually every case brought by AMCON or instituted by the debtors had been decided against AMCON on technicalities. The basic facts of the cases are seldom in dispute. The companies admit owing AMCON. The controversy arises when after years without paying a kobo AMCON moves to take over the assets. Suddenly, AMCON hits a brick wall created by a court of law. Invariably, AMCON is restrained from taking over. Instead, the agency is forced to spent millions of naira of public funds on litigation – often without success – as another court is waiting in ambush.
Reading the reports of that case decided against AMCON, one cannot help remembering that famous remark by Leo Tolstoy, 1828 – 1910, “Where there is law, there is injustice.” A poor man in Nigeria, who borrows from a bank to build his house and who fails to pay his instalments for six months, will soon find himself ill homeless. No justice of a Nigerian court will dismiss the case against him on mere technicalities. That is certain. I often wonder why we call them Honourable Justice! There is very little honour on display in most courts in this country.
Lastly, the mangers appointed to manage AMCON remind one of the friendly dog which greets every intruder with its tail wagging. It neither barks nor bites – unless when hungry. Right from its inception, it would appear that the FG only recruits “friendly dogs” to watch the gates at AMCON. Neither the Chairman nor the Managing Director seem particularly eager to collect the debts owed.
For more than a year, the current CEO of AMCON had been threatening or promising to publish the names of the economic saboteurs (that is what they really are) who after “kidnapping N5trn of our money are holding the country to ransom by expecting a write-off after years of fruitless litigation. AMCON officials had developed neither the courage nor the patriotism to reveal who the kingpins of Nigeria’s economic sabotage are.
Just as we were getting adjusted to the fact that AMCON will never act in the national interest, the body two weeks ago announced that some of the new Ministers and some NASS members are on the list of infamy which it is withholding from publication. Characteristically, the announcement came after most of the Minister-nominees had been told by our primitive NASS to “take a bow and go”. If you want to have a reason why Nigeria will never develop you don’t need more than what the Senators have done in full glare of cameras. Parliamentarians worldwide now know why the black man is totally backward and receding into the Stone Age. Nigeria is the largest black country on Earth!! And, we have these jokers for lawmakers.
The announcement by AMCON about dent delinquents being appointed Ministers (Next Level here we come down) coming after several people had bowed and shuffled off the stage is akin to closing the barnyard gate after the cows have fled. Even my nine year-old niece knows that is a futile gesture.
Buhari abhors sacking Ministers once appointed irrespective of the evidence against them afterwards. After all, among those re-appointed is a self-confessed election rigger who still went to court to hang on to a stolen Governor’s mandate. AMCON’s announcement amounted to wisdom on the eighth day of the week – as one of my sages would say. Those saboteurs now have immunity for four years and Nigerians will pay dearly for it.
That said, I still strongly believe that AMCON will do Nigerians a lot of favour by telling us which of our Ministers and lawmakers are economic terrorists whose unpaid debt is causing our nation so much pain.
PAY AS U READ
- ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL
- INNOCENT NIGERIA
- IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
- VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
- PDP CORRUPTION INCORPORATED