What can you tell us are the efforts you have made so far in the recovery process of bad loans?
Recovery is a technical word that describes you getting something back. In that context, it is not an easy thing particularly in an economy that is a bit challenged like our own economy. Having said that, I am not going to pretend about the assignment at AMCON. Therefore I will tell you straightaway that since we came on board, it has been difficult and challenging for us. Number one, this organization has been running for more than six years and at the initial stage we recorded tremendous progress but after you have operated for six years; everyday obviously gets more difficult. As you know recovery is not just like you knock the door of someone and say give me back my money and the person dips his hand in his or her pocket and doles out the money to pay you off. Our obligors, the people we are trying to recover from are also facing the same challenge in our economy. So it is not just easy but somehow we have been changing the strategy and gradually moving away from the simple approaches of debt recovery; we are exploring ways to support the businesses. In the event that the obligor does not have cash to pay off, we also explore another option like forfeiture of obligor’s assets because people should not forget the fact that we used debt to pay for those loans. Obviously we have to generate cash flow to pay back our debt. So it is challenging but by and large; giving the state of the economy we are trying to make progress. However, I can tell you it is definitely not particularly easy to recover money in a recession.
Some months back, we saw some publications on the list of AMCON debtors in the papers, how are they responding to that very publication?
Some of them did respond and others came to negotiate. You know publication sometimes is just a reminder to tell the people you need to talk to us so that some of the issue could be addressed or even to come and tell us how you plan to meet your obligations. It is an ongoing initiative and when we feel it is the right time to come out with a sequel to that list, we will publish a fellow up.
How much is AMCON looking to recover now?
It hovers around N5.4 trillion and we have about 14 thousand obligors. We also have some assets but like I have told you earlier on because of the present economic situation even the value of assets have gone down. So if you are holding an asset of N1 billion and you say you want to sell it now, if you are lucky you get somebody to want to pay between N400 to N500million. It then means you have to hold on to those assets and on the flip side; you have debt that also attract interest so you have to be mindful of the fact that your debt profile is increasing while the assets you are holding is also challenged. So you can see why we are also stakeholders in the economy, we have to pray that the economy picks up quickly so that our turnaround time will be faster and the valuation of our assets would also improve to enable us get the desired value.
Would it be right to say that the improvement on recoveries we currently see in AMCON is as a result of the several court cases in your favour?
It is a combination of different factors; our efforts and perseverance as a Corporation are there and we cannot ignore the fact that the judiciary have also been helpful because they realized the importance of this national assignment undertaken by AMCON. It was based on that, if you recall; the Act that established AMCON was amended last two years, which gives the Corporation more powers to help in recovering of these funds for Nigeria. I also want to let you know that the lawmakers have also been very helpful in this recovery advocacy to the extent that people need to come and meet their obligations. We can tell you that all hands are on deck to ensure success for AMCON, which directly translates to success for the economy.