AMCON Invitation By EFCC Another Bad Image For Buhari Government

By Andrew Onyejuruuwa

For those who may not know, the invitation of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Mr Ahmed Lawan Kuru (ALK) by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa on Wednesday January 19, 2022, is already being perceived by critics of President Muhammadu Buhari as another clear indication of how heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the Buhari government work at cross-purpose.

In a normal country, the AMCON boss, who heads one of the most strategic debt recovery agencies in the country and the EFCC Chairman who is also heading another important anti-graft agency of the Federal Government in the current Buhari-led All Progressive Congress (APC) should not be involved in the sort of show of shame and drama, which the leadership of the EFCC displayed with the invitation of the AMCON CEO and the alleged leakage of Kuru’s invitation to SaharaReporters an online news medium published by the embattled Omoyele Sowore.

Since that incident, which does the Buhari government no good, Nigerians at home and in the diaspora have been asking what the government stands to gain by embarrassing Kuru, a man whose agency had recovered over N1.4trillion for the government. As a matter of fact, the AMCON MD remains one of the ambassadors of the Buhari government that is steadfast in the fight against financial rascality with his debt recovery drive. Presently, AMCON has outstanding debt burden of N4.4trillion owed by some of the most powerful and influential Nigerians. The mere fact that AMCON is going after them to repay the debt makes Kuru’s job dangerous and unpleasant because as far as the obligors are concerned, the AMCON boss is enemy number one that must be stopped.

The disdain the obligors have towards the AMCON CEO was made even worse by the fact that AMCON shortly before the Christmas and New Year festivities announced through advertorial in national dailies the plan to publish the list of these high-profile debtors. They gave a grace period of one month, which expired on January 5, 2022. Aside from that, the AMCON MD within his six years in office with the support of the National Assembly has amended the AMCON Act, which President Buhari signed into law. The amended Act give AMCON additional powers to put pressure on the obligors to repay their debt. Almost everyday in the news, there are stories of AMCON taking over properties of the obligors through the instrumentality of the judiciary. With all these no debtor would like the AMCON MD.

However, the motive behind the invitation is murky and smacks of power play at a ridiculous level because the EFCC is one of the agencies the Buhari Presidency listed among the Inter-Agency Committee on the Recovery of AMCON Debt. Both the AMCON MD and the EFCC Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa who is perceived to be overzealous in some quarters are members of that Committee. The rest include the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), whose Chairman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye also chairs the Committee. There is also the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Ministry of Justice and so on. It is therefore not clear to most Nigerians why whatever investigation of a transaction brought before the EFCC by an obligor or any entity for that matter regarding AMCON cannot be resolved by the Inter-Agency Committee set up by the Presidency.

Alternatively, to protect the image of the Buhari government, even if the heads of these agencies of the government disagree on any matter, they can take their case to the office of the Chairman of the Committee Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye or to the office of the Vice President, Prof Yomi Osinbajo whose office announced the setting up of the Inter-Agency Committee on the Recovery of AMCON Debt. It is on that premise that political analysts believe that the EFCC may have further embarrassed the government of President Buhari with the way they handled the invitation of the AMCON CEO.

As a bad bank, the obligors do not like the existence of AMCON or the leadership o the Corporation. Most of them (debtors) borrowed the money from the banks, destroyed many financial institutions and caused hundreds of thousands of job losses in the country. They have no intention to repay the debts so, any agency such as AMCON that is bent on recovering the debts will not be liked. Unfortunately for AMCON and its leadership, they are faced with the tough thankless national assignment of recovering a huge outstanding debt of over N4.4trillion from highly powerful, influential, and recalcitrant debtors. It is enormous responsibility that requires serious support from all sister agencies of the government and nor persecution.

AMCON and the EFCC are sister agencies established by the Act of the National Assembly. Both agencies are set up to operate with different modus operandi. It is therefore expected that the leadership of both organisations would regularly interface in the overall interest, stability, and economic development of Nigeria, and should not be personalized or politicized. It should not be about Bawa or Kuru. Few years ago, Mustapha Chike-Obi held sway at AMCON while only few months ago, Ibrahim Magu called the shot at the EFCC. Both men are no longer there today. Therefore, the brand image of Nigeria should be the priority and not those heading government institutions, which is transient.

It is pertinent at this point to state that AMCON since its establishment is guided by the AMCON Act as amended. It is also understood that AMCON has strict asset disposal process most of which are either approved by the Board of AMCON or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Interestingly too, the Chairman of the Board of AMCON, Mr Edward Adamu serves as a Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Additionally, by the provision of the AMCON Act, 2010 (as amended), the Corporation is empowered to acquire EBAs from Eligible Financial Institutions (EFIs) and obtain the best achievable financial returns on the assets pursuant to the provisions of the Act. Since most of the obligors obtained the loans from the EFIs without the intention to pay back, their usual approach is to resort to exploring the loopholes in the Act, petitions, cheap blackmail, and other gimmicks to delay repayment. But if the government is seriously and genuinely interested in the recovery of the huge debt, the intelligent logic would be to support AMCON and not use another sister agency to ridicule the Corporation and the country at large.

Established by the Federal Government to be a key stabilizing and re-vitalizing tool aimed at reviving the financial system by efficiently resolving the non-performing loan assets of the banks in the Nigerian economy, AMCON does not stand the chance to reap any benefit from hunting down any obligor or the debtor’s business in Nigeria. In fact, the corporation has, through its appointed Receiver/Managers, successfully managed and resuscitated several moribund companies with the aim of recovering its debts from the affected companies.

Onyejuruuwa is a social commentator

Related posts

Leave a Comment