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Senate Moves To Recover N16Trn AMCON Loans

The Senate on Tuesday considered a bill seeking to empower the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on assets recovery and strengthen it against economic sabotage by debtors with unpaid loans to the tune of about N16 trillion.

Specifically, the AMCON Amendment Bill 2021, which scaled second reading on the floor, was sponsored by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti State.

Leading debate on the bill, the sponsor said that “the main aim of this amendment is to update a few clauses in the Act that have been hampering the Operations of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.”

According to him, under the current Act, the continued smooth operation of AMCON is threatened by the tenor put on a key funding provision for AMCON.

Sen. Bamidele, explained that the proposed amendment would allow for more flexibility in the tenor of the corporation’s key funding provision, strengthen it in stabilizing Nigeria’s banking system and empower the agency in carrying out its functions of assets and debt recovery.

He said: “Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, AMCON is a very important and strategic national institution that must be strengthened to effectively contribute to the stabilization of the banking sector in Nigeria.

“It proved its mettle in the banking crises of 2009. Our economy still grapples with huge challenges. The banking sector is not immune from the difficulties we face. We must therefore review and amend the AMCON Act (2014) in order to reinvent and reposition AMCON to optimally perform its functions.

“In particular, this amendment will strengthen the hands of AMCON in assets recovery. AMCON must be reenergized to tackle the problem of toxic loans.

“Highly placed debtors have been employing different strategies and tactics to stall the repayment of loans. Cases drag on in courts for many years. AMCON has remained at the receiving end of this well laid and orchestrated acts of economic sabotage.

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, as patriots we have an obligation to empower AMCON and make its assets recovery efforts less cumbersome. We must remove all obstacles to its smooth operations. We must safeguard our banking sector and the economy in these trying times”, the lawmaker added.

In his contribution, Senator Uba Sani, emphasized that, “AMCON largely depends on the resources from the resolution fund, and failure to extend this amendment bill will certainly affect the operation of AMCON and it may force the government to bear the entire cost of debt management of AMCON.”

Similarly, Senator Adamu Aliero said the proposed amendment “will give teeth to AMCON to recover all debts that were given to private individuals and also companies.”

Following further contributions by other lawmakers and after the bill had scaled second reading, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for further legislative work.

The Committee was given four weeks to turn in its report.

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