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AMCON debtors show deliberate reluctance towards repayment, say Justices Auta, Bulkachuwa

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Leading legal luminaries including the former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice I. N. Auta OFR and the President of Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa CFR have joined the campaign by the management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in calling for a paradigm shift in debt recovery processes in Nigeria. Such shift according to them would act as act as panacea, if indeed the Corporation were to meet its mandate of resolving its huge outstanding obligation.

Current AMCON management under the leadership of its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru upon assuming office and reviewing the challenges as well as bottlenecks inhibiting recoveries mounted a strong campaign that the current practice where habitual and recalcitrant debtors are treated with kid gloves, especially by agencies of government would not help AMCON resolve these loans before its sunset date.

According to Justice Auta, the approach to debt recovery and resolution must change at this point in the life of AMCON especially going into 2018 and beyond because the Corporation came as a child of necessity at the time it was created with all the good intentions in the world to recalibrate the beleaguered economy of the country at the time.

In his words, “Nigeria witnessed the 2007 global financial crisis, which was caused by insolvency, illiquidity, poor corporate governance and outright financial crimes. However, with the creation of AMCON by the federal government, no bank has been liquidated, depositors’ funds are safe and no bank has been subject to collection queues. The financial crisis led to the depression in value of the securities created against these defaulting loans thereby leaving the banks with an unfortunate inability to recover their losses. The effect of such monumental exposure was that banks were unable to sustain the equilibrium of lending required to maintain a vibrant economy. This in turn led to higher interest rates and an inability to perform the bank’s primary functions of financial intermediation like the pooling of savings and lending.”

Explaining further he said, “In addition to significant reduction in lending to customers, financial crisis created by non-performing loans can result in breakdown of interbank lending, which in turn leads to drastic drop in liquidity of banks and a consequent reticence or direct inability to advance loans to the broader public. Collectively, these factors create a vicious cycle resulting in a hike in interest rates; concomitant default and insolvency; volatility of currency values; a drop in investments and general stagnation of the economy among other crisis.”

Justice Auta having enumerated the facts argued that it is extremely important for all stakeholders, especially Judges to note the correlation between bank failure, which AMCON saved, and a large concentration of non-performing loans. He added that Judges have critical role to play in the insulation of the macro-economy from fragmentation since most disputes that relate to banking, which AMCON currently shoulders are presented before them. Describing the AMCON framework as “extremely complex” he said AMCON’s goal can only be accomplished if all stakeholders, especially the entire hierarchy of the bench appreciates the fundamental underpinnings of its regime.

Lending her voice to Justice Auta’s position, Justice Bulkachuwa in her own analogy argued that since the rise of the financial sector is tied to economic growth, Nigeria’s economy, the livelihood and wellbeing of the citizenry are inextricably related to finance. She said all over the world, whenever the economy goes into crisis, governments across the world intervene to stabilize the macro-economy, which AMCON did in the case of Nigeria.

But with what she described as “deliberate reluctance” of debtors to redeem their obligations to AMCON, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “Having realized deliberate reluctance of debtors to redeem their obligations to AMCON, it would seem that AMCON has limited options other than resorting to our courts to enforce its enormous powers towards debt recovery. To recover as much debt as possible within its defined lifespan, expediency is essential if AMCON is to achieve its value maximization and financial stability goals.”

Corroborating the position of the two distinguished Justices, Kuru submitted that AMCON is currently indebted to the CBN to the amount of N4.7trillion, which is more than half of the proposed 2018 national budget. Aside that, more than 70 per cent of AMCON’s Eligible Bank Asset (EBA), portfolio is also locked in one form of litigation or the other meaning that without the support of the judiciary, AMCON cannot see the light of day. 

On the back of that, he said there is also a rising number of appeals emanating from trial courts on AMCON cases, adding that at this stage in AMCON’s existence, expeditious determination of appeals brought before the courts remains key to AMCON’s ability to resolve all outstanding assets and prevent the undesired economic consequences of failure to recover the assets. The inability to resolve the debt he argued would have dire implications for the entire Nigerian economy.

AMCON a creation of the National Assembly in response to the global financial crises of 2008/2009, acquired over 12,000 Non-Performing Loans worth about N3.7 trillion from 22 banks. Out of this, AMCON injected N2.2 Trillion as Financial Accommodation to 10 commercial banks in order to prevent systemic failure. This singular action, helped stabilize the financial system. About N3.66 trillion of depositors’ funds were protected; and approximately 14,000 jobs were saved as a result of AMCON’s intervention in the banking sector. The idea is to recover the debts either through structured repayment or dispose of transferred assets towards settlement of the Bonds.

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Lagos set to host second Nigeria Beer Festival

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From Left to Right: Mr. Dele Balogun, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board ;Mr. FolaAdeyemi, Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Mr. Akinola Oluwaleimu, Chief Co-ordinator, Nigeria Beer Festival Group at the media interactive session on the festival in Lagos on Wednesday

After a successful and large participation of people at the first edition of the Nigeria Beer Festival which debuted last year in Lagos, the organiser the event has announced that Lagos will be hosting the second edition again.

The week-long event will hold on Thursday October 25th to Wednesday October 31st at the Eko Atlantic City, Bar Beach Water front Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos to give it a carnival-like atmosphere .

Speaking at a press conference to announce the event in Lagos on Wednesday, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, the Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture explained that the festival is in line with government’s agenda to grow the tourism and economy of the state.

He stated that Lagos state is collaborating with beer brewers in the country and their counterparts across the globe to stimulate the economic and tourism potentials in the State.

He enjoined Lagosians to come out in their large numbers to enjoy the ambience of the festival, assuring that the city is safe for fun lovers because of the various infrastructure development by the state such as Light-up Lagos among others.

“Lagos is a city state and in league with great cities all over the world. We are actually moving the state to a 24 hour economy and this festival will be part of the beneficiaries. Lagos is safe for fun and business. We are joining the global tourism world to create impact on the economy of Lagos and Nigeria.” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Akinola Oluwaleimu, General Manager of On and One Events Limited, the organisers of the festival informed that the festival is to promote culture, tourism, friendship and for beer brands to connect with their consumers.

He added that the festival, will promote responsible drinking among drinking-age (18 +) consumers at all its touch points.

According to him, the event, since it debuted last year, has seen Nigeria enrolled into the league of Beer Festivals around the world, and boost the country’s tourism opportunities.

“It will be a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country and beyond.This year’s edition will be bigger, better and “beertiful”, he said.

He revealed that the 2017 edition attracted over ten thousand beer enthusiasts and consequently the Festival has proven to become a major international tourist event in Nigeria with a potential to compete with other international beer festivals around the world.

“Nigeria Beer Festival will be a carnival week of entertainment, sales and marketing and a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country to bond and ‘beer’,” Oluwaleimu assured.

He added that the Nigeria Beer Festival will provide a fitting ambience to showcase culture and lifestyle in a carnival atmosphere with various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria connecting with their existing and potential consumers.

Oluwaleimu maintained that the festival, which will commence 4 p.m daily is a big opportunity for major breweries to exhibit and deliver various offerings of beer brands to the teeming consumers to strengthen brand relationship with them. “The timing promises an after work relaxation environment to bond with friends and associates, he said”

He also acknowledged the support of the Lagos State government through His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who found the private driven initiative worthy enough of its endorsement and providing necessary logistics support in security, health, safety and publicity to ensure a hitch free event.

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Transcorp appoints new management team

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Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), has announced new appointments into its board and executive management. The company in a statement Tuesday said Valentine Ozigbo, has been appointed as its President/CEO with effect from January 1, 2019. He will succeed Adim Jibunoh, who is retiring on December 31.

The statement said Mr Ozigbo, currently the MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc, owner of the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Abuja, will bring over 20 years’ experience in banking, business development, hospitality and corporate transformation. ‘‘A multiple award winner, Mr Ozigbo holds an M.Sc. Finance from Lancaster University, UK; an MBA in Banking & Finance and a B.Sc. in Accounting from the University of Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

‘‘Similarly, Owen Omogiafo has been appointed as the MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc effective from January 1, 2019. She is currently the Executive Director, Corporate Services at Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc,” the statement added.

Also according to the statement, Mrs Omogiafo has over 18 years’ corporate experience in organisational development strategy, human capital management, banking, change and business management. The Board of Transcorp also approved the appointments of Obi Ibekwe and Toyin Sanni as Non-Executive Directors, following the retirement of Kayode Fasola and Abdulqadir Bello.

These appointments are effective October 30, 2018. ‘‘While Ms Sanni was Group Chief Executive Officer at United Capital Plc , a position she retired from in June., Ms Ibekwe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A., a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Lagos and an MBA degree from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, U.S.A. She has over two decades experience in banking, holding senior executive and senior management positions spanning credit and marketing, credit risk management, human resources and customer service,” the statement read in part.

The company also announced the appointment of Emmanuel Nnorom as the Chairman of its Board, following the retirement of Mr Bello. Speaking on these appointments, the Chairman of Transcorp, Tony Elumelu, reportedly expressed his confidence that the newly appointed chief executives and non-executive directors will further strengthen Transcorp’s core purpose of improving lives across Nigeria.

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Diamond Bank launches Visa Signature Debit Card

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Diamond Bank Plc has launched Visa Signature Debit Card, which is designed specifically for affluent clients. The bank in a statement issued at the weekend, said the product is a unique naira debit card designed to provide customers exceptional spending power and exclusive privileges.

According to Diamond Bank, the new debit card gives affluent customers the opportunity to have wider and richer experiences when they relax or travel, home and abroad.

Head, Consumer Banking, Diamond Bank, Karimot Tukur, said “our customers told us that they want more travel benefits, greater peace of mind and something a lot more rewarding than they get from an everyday current account.”

She said with the Diamond Visa Signature Debit card, together with Xclusive Plus, customers get access to over 800 airport lounges around the world, VIP treatment at top hotels and complimentary worldwide travel insurance for trips paid for on the card.

Adding that the insurance is even valid for foreign visa applications, Tukur added “our customers also get great entertainment benefits closer to home, including complementary event tickets through the year and free cinema tickets.”

Diamond Bank is one of the fastest growing retail banks. Through innovation and technology, Diamond Bank enhances customer experiences and drives financial inclusion in what is known as ‘Beyond Banking’.

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