A bill which seeks to strengthen the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in its debt recovery drive passed Second Reading on Tuesday.
The bill, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Amendment Bill 2021, was sponsored by Senator representing Ekiti Central, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.
Presenting his lead debate, Senator Bamidele who incidentally is Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters said, the aim of the amendment was to update a few clauses in the Act that have been hampering the Operations of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.
He submitted that under the current Act, the continued smooth operation of AMCON was threatened by the tenor put on a key funding provision for AMCON.
“There, the proposed amendment is designed to allow for more flexibility in the tenor of this key funding provision.”
He further expressed the hope that the amendment would strengthen AMCON in stabilising Nigeria’s banking sector 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 stabilisation 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 these 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.”
Senator representing Kaduna central, Senator Uba Sani while backing the proposed amendment said the Bill would certainly smoothen the operation of AMCON.
Former Kebbi State governor and Senator representing Kebbi central, Adamu Aliero said the Bill would help to sanitise the finance sector. He expressed regret that so many influential individuals indebted to banks are still working free having secured controversial injunctions from banks.
“The amendment will give teeth to AMCON to recover all debts that were given to private individuals and also companies.”
“Mr President, I don’t know whether my colleagues are aware of the information circulating in social media and even in the conventional media, where only twenty individuals have taken about N7.5 trillion naira.
“Mr President, this is more than what we spend as capital budget of this country, and these individuals are well to do individuals and they are walking on our streets.
“They have huge sums of money, some of them have even transferred these monies abroad. There’s nothing toxic about it, the money is with them, they have used it and they don’t want to pay.
“They are using all tactics to ensure that they block the investigation agencies like EFCC from recovering the loan. They have even gone to court to get all kinds of injunctions stopping AMCON from recovering the loan.
“Mr President, we should all support this amendment, it will make Nigeria to be sanitized financially, and banks would even be in a better position to give loans to people bearing in mind that there must be collateral for giving such loans.
“They were a little bit careless in the past, but with this, Mr President, if this amendment passes through, it will be a wake-up call for all financial institutions in the country to do what is right and proper.”
After individual contributions by lawmakers, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan referred the Bill to the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions led by Senator Sani Uba with a timeline of four weeks to submit its report.
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