By Abubakar Yusuf
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) was established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through an act of the National Assembly to address the growing crises in the financial sector particularly Banks in the late 20O0.
Soon after the setting up of AMCON that took over the toxic assets known as ‘Bad Loans’ that assisted the Banking sector as well as the nationalised Banks from going down, there was the need to further put in place an enabling environment to address permanently the epileptic operation of Banks.
Hence in 2011, a ‘Sinking fund’ with a remittance of O.3 per cent was initially established for ten years by the CBN as a contributory scheme between the Apex Bank and Banks operating in Nigeria under the supervision of AMCON.
The programme that commenced with some five Banks namely FBN Holdings, Zenith, UBA, GTB and Sterling was geared towards giving more lifeline to Banks, as CBN took active part by contributing 50billion on yearly basis to the fund.
These funds that later attracted contributions from other Banks in Nigeria, was not only meant to stabilise the economy and the capital market, but to put in place a healthier banking sector that will attract both local and foreign investors’ confidence and ‘enability’ of doing business. In 2013, looking at the stable stead and viability of Nigeria Banks, the CBN as the regulatory agency also increased the levy to Banks to O.5% based on their financial records of year ended and the audited accounts.
It was a gentlemen’s agreement between the Banks, Apex Bank and AMCON as the custodian of the special funds, that was not made under duress. The multiplier effects of the ‘Sinking fund’ has restored the confidence of not only many Nigerians but foreign influx of investors to engage in heavy investments in Nigeria.
This is made possible by the drive of the current AMCON leadership to nil all form of insolvency by individuals, groups, conglomerates, or entities financial commitment to Banks to ensure a completely clean Books for transparent transactions from Nigeria Banks. Matching words with action, the corporation has taking action to impose various decisions and penalties on the insolvent accounts, so as to attract the repayments or return to business transactions with the Banks.
The positive development in the Banking sector had good prospects of Nigeria Banking sector in the midst of recession, economic downturn, global pandemic challenges of COVID-19 and aftermath of lockdown, as well as other unnatural phenomenon of ENDSARS that ravaged Nigeria.
The leadership acumen displayed by AMCON portrayed between the difference between service delivery and occupation of some top public officers at the top echelon of departments, agencies of government. For the capital market and economy to thrive in Nigeria, a lot of sacrifices must be made not only from the Banking sector that was either nationalised or bailed out through one form or the other to avoid Job losses both at the top middle and lower cadre, but that is also capable of creating high unemployment rates in the labour market.
It therefore, behooves on AMCON and CBN; the Apex Bank and the commercial Banks In Nigeria to allow this wise contributions to continue, so to allow the thriving economy to remain stable. All hands must on deck to make all needful sacrifices that will leverage on the futility of the Banks, so as to pave way for a thriving economy by extension, social security in Nigeria.
AMCON on its own part is alive to its statutory responsibility of clearing the toxic in the Banks having recovered over N1trillion with plans to also recover about N5trillion owed by Bank customers across the country. It’s idea of instilling debt repayments in the activities of Nigerians and its foreign partners, no doubt will assist the Banks return to the old good days, to the admiration of both local and foreign partners.
This calls for review upward the continuous existence of the ‘Sinking fund’ since it had remained an indices, for further stability in the Banking sector. Banks played leading roles in both economic diversification, sustenance and emancipation, therefore the need to rejigged it’s policies from time to time by the stakeholders cannot be overemphasized.
Yusuf, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.