Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, at the weekend presented Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) with the Special Recognition and Commendation Award for Excellence in Banking, at the BusinessDay Banking Awards 2017, which held at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos.
The management of Businessday newspapers, led by the Publisher, Mr. Frank Aigbogun said that agencies, regulators, microfinance banks, deposit money banks, investment and merchant banks that were recipients this year were rewarded because they made excellence and dedication to quality delivery the core of their operations in 2016 financial year.
It would be recalled that AMCON, under the leadership of Mr. Ahmed Kuru, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer within the year in review made remarkable improvements that led to aggressive recovery of the nation’s assets from recalcitrant debtors. In 2016, AMCON against all odds secured a number of high-profile court orders that compelled it take over a number of businesses from debtors. The government agency also disposed a number of the assets in its portfolio.
When AMCON was created by the Federal Government in 2010, it acquired over 13, 000 toxic loans worth N3.7 trillion from 22 banks and injected N2.2 trillion as financial accommodation to 10 banks in order to prevent systemic failure. This intervention helped stabilise the financial system as about N3.66 trillion of depositors’ funds and interbank takings were protected and approximately 14,000 jobs saved. In spite of the economic challenges in the country, AMCON within the year in review recovered N716.1 billion from obligors of which cash and assets accounted for 45 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.
Chief Obasanjo, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the well-attended awards while delivering his address reminded guests that the gains the banking industry in the country is reaping today remains a direct result of the banking reform his administration started with the then Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuemeka Soludo, who pruned down the number of banks in Nigeria from 89 to just 25 and also increased their share capital. He said he was proud of that policy decision given the fact that Prof. Soludo did so as an economist and not a banker per say.
If not for that development, Obasanjo who underscored the critical role of banking in the growth and development of any economy said it would have been difficult for anybody to predict what would have happened to the banking sector in Nigeria because of the way financial institutions were run at the period before Professor Souludo introduced the banking reforms that did not only change the game but stabilised the sector. He said that reform in the banking sector also created strong bank institutions that are now ranked alongside all such institutions around the globe. For that reason, Chief Obasanjo said all institutions that were singled out by the organisers (including AMCON) were selected on merit and therefore deserved to be celebrated and appreciated for the good work they are doing to build a very strong economy for Nigeria.
Other institutions that were honoured alongside AMCON at the awards night include the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Union Bank, United Capital, Coronation Bank, Zenith Bank, First City Asset Management Plc, Stanbic IBTC, Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank and Jaiz Bank.