Federal House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Banking and Currency, Hon. Victor Nwokolo at the weekend in Lagos disclosed that the National Assembly would as a matter of urgency summon the leadership of the various key committees that are overseeing the different agencies of the federal government to investigate why the Inter-agency Committee on the recovery of the huge outstanding debt owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are not working as directed by the Presidency.
Recall that in September of 2019, the Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yomi Osinbajo SAN, inaugurated an Inter-agency Committee to speedily resolve the challenges in recovering over N5 trillion AMCON debts. Osinbajo, who inaugurated the committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had tasked its members to deploy their expertise in the assignment to ensure that AMCON meets its mandate within reasonable timeline.
Members of the committee include heads and representatives of agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). Others are heads of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), the Federal Ministry of Justice and AMCON. They were expected to review the status of the huge debts owed to AMCON, deliberate on practical, legal and other strategies for the recovery of the outstanding debts. The committee is chaired by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN) who is also the ICPC chairman.
Nwokolo who spoke at this year’s edition of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking, and Currency retreat with the Management of AMCON among other stakeholders at the Lagos Intercontinental Hotel in Victoria Island said it was sad that agencies of the federal government of Nigeria work at cross-purposes rather than collaborating to ensure that they support the federal government, and the economic recovery of Nigeria after coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had dealt a deadly blow on the economy of Nigeria and the global community. The retreat was themed, “Asset Recovery as a tool for Enhanced growth, and Stability of the Banking sectors sustaining the Impact and Bridging the challenges of AMCON.”
He said, “We cannot continue like this because we are answerable to the people of Nigeria and our constituencies as lawmakers. They will hold us accountable if we fail to take decisive actions that would help AMCON to recover these huge outstanding debts.”
Nwokole insisted that it does not sound pleasant to the ear that the person of the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo had set up a committee that was supposed to force sister agencies of the government to collaborate and mount pressure on AMCON obligors within the ambit of the law to ensure that these debts are resolved.
He said in a sane clime, ministries, departments and agencies of the government are supposed to work in sync to ensure that nobody shortchanges the federal government, but from reports we get from AMCON, it is obvious that they are facing frustrations from not just the obligors but from the judiciary, as well as ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government. There is no reason why that should happen in a decent country.
For that reason, Nwokolo said the national assembly would in no distant time organise another retreat which would involve about six critical stakeholders to discuss in great details the strategy that would be adopted to ensure that Nigeria recovers its money, which some heartless obligors owe the country, and for which they are hiding under all manners of trickery to evade repayment. He, however, commended the leadership of AMCON led by Mr Ahmed Kuru as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer for their resolve to persistently chasing the debtors some of whom feel they are bigger than the country.
He restated the fact that given that the AMCON Act has been amended and already signed into law by President Buhari, the national assembly will continue to strengthen the laws of the country on enforcement. He said enforcement has become critical given the tactics of the debtors, which has constrained AMCON from achieving optimum results especially since public funds were used to buy these loans that helped prevent systemic collapse of the banking sector in Nigeria at the time AMCON was created in 2010.
In his own submission, AMCON Managing Director/CEO, the Corporation has recovered about N1.4trn, which comprises of cash N681bn; Property Forfeiture N279bn; Share Forfeiture N140bn; and other strategic assets N208bn. Similarly, a total cash recovery of over N116.9bn has been recovered on Polaris EBAs from date of acquisition to date. The AMCON MD/CEO who was represented by Mr Matthew Coker who is AMCON’s Group Head, Asset Management Directorate told the lawmakers that despite the Special Powers as provided by the Act, AMCON still struggles with the implementation due to the judicial system.
He said, “Honourable members, the Corporation’s recovery processes at this point majorly depends on the Judiciary i.e., Obtaining Possessory Orders or Orders for sale. The slow pace of our court processes and sometimes conflicting orders by the Courts, especially at the Federal High Court (FHC), which is our Court of first instance frustrates recovery process. There are delays in obtaining dates in the Court to hear AMCON matters.
“Deposit of judgement sum as provided for in the Act is not enforced by the Courts, some of the obligors are still active contractors of the government. They carry out businesses with government with debtor company names or other pseudo names and the BOFIA Act that provided for a Special Tribunal on recovery and enforcements would have hastened the adjudication of our matters in Court if the Judiciary had constituted a task force specifically in that regard,” he concluded.
National debt: Invest in Sukuk, others to reduce pressure on Govt spending — Minister
..Says N9.18trn allocated to debt servicing in 2024 budget
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has recommended an increased participation in the non-interest market to reduce huge fiscal constraint on the Government.
The Minister explained that Nigeria’s high debt service to revenue ratio was posing significant fiscal constraints on the Federal Government.
Speaking at the opening of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria-Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) International Forum, Edun further disclosed that the Federal Government in its proposed 2024 budget sets aside a whooping N9.18 trillion out of the total budget of N27.5 trillion for debt servicing is expected to gulp N9.18 trillion.
He noted that the non-interest financial market or Islamic financial market presents a cheaper and sustainable way to raise funding for major infrastructure, adding that Nigeria needs to increase its participation in the global non-interest financial market.
He expressed optimism that the outcome of the forum would “not only strengthen the ties between the Islamic finance community around the world but would also lead to us taking more advantage of the huge funds that are available in the non-interest world so as to have a viable way of financing the green sustainable growth which is the agenda of Nigeria.”
“To attract the investments that would increase the productivity of the economy, grow the economy, create jobs, reduce poverty and help the President meet his promise to Nigerians, a better life for all.”
Also speaking at the forum, the Director General, SEC Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Yuguda pointed out that although there has been significant growth in the non-interest financial sector in Nigeria, it remains very small when compared to the global market.
Yuguda explained that the structure of the market makes it a fair, just and equitable financial market rather than just an Islamic financial market.
He held that in 2022 the Islamic Finance Industry had an estimated size of $ 3.25 trillion, with global Sukuk issuances valued at $182.72 billion,” adding that in Nigeria, the Islamic finance segment of the financial industry reached an estimated size of $2.9 billion as at the end of 2022, with outstanding Sukuk forming the largest part at 57 percent, followed by Islamic banks at 42 percent (total assets), and the remaining 1 percent split between Islamic funds (total assets) and takaful (total contributions)”.
He stated that this “shows that the Nigerian market makes up just 0.9 percent of the global non-interest market, indicating the dire need for more growth. With the country boasting a large population and a significant proportion unbanked, the long-term potential for Islamic finance in Nigeria is immense.”
“The Non-Interest (Islamic) Capital Market in Nigeria has undergone transformative growth, becoming an integral part of our financial framework, offering a distinctive platform for ethical and Shari’ah-compliant investments. The NICM contributes to the diversity of our financial markets in line with our revised capital market Master plan 2021 -2025.
“Since the debut of Sukuk in Nigeria in 2017, the Debt Management Office has raised almost N1 trillion to finance over 5,000 kilometers of critical roads & bridges with all such issuances oversubscribed.
“The oversubscription of the most recent 6th Federal Government of Nigeria Sukuk by 435 percent underscores investor confidence, showcasing the strategic role of Sukuk in infrastructure development and financial inclusion.
“We are all aware that Sukuks backed by assets promote risk sharing in high-risk projects, offer flexibility in project stages and foster public-private partnerships.”
On his part, the Secretary General, IFSB, Dr. Bello Lawal Danbatta said the global non-interest financial sector is expected to grow by 10 percent in 2023-2024 year-on-year.
Dr. Danbatta said Nigeria with its huge population can lead the Africa continent in exploring the potentials presented by the non-interest financial sector.
“We have the opportunity to be able to cut down on the excessive devaluation of our currency through the leveraging of a non-interest capital market to build our own designed infrastructure,” he added.
NNPC Ltd signs two gas deals at COP28
NNPC Limited says it has signed two gas deals at COP28. The deal covers a floating liquefied natural gas deal and a small-scale LNG deal at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai. According to the company, the deal is both for domestic, and international Markets. There is an Agreement on 421 tons per-day Small-Scale LNG Project in Ajaokuta and an MoU on Floating LNG.
In a December 6 statement signed by the Chief Corporate Communications Officer at the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Olufemi Soneye, the company said it has signed two major agreements to deliver LNG to both domestic and international markets.
During two separate signing ceremonies held on the sidelines of the ongoing COP28 conference, NNPC Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wison Heavy Industry Company Limited, a Chinese company, for the development of a floating LNG project in Nigeria, targeting the international LNG market.
The Floating LNG MoU was signed by the Executive Vice President, of Gas, Power & New Energy, Olalekan Ogunleye on behalf of NNPC Ltd and Mr. Kai Xu, Managing Director of Wison Ltd, on behalf of his company. Both parties agreed to work together to chart a roadmap for the project development that will lead to an investment decision.
On the other hand, NNPC Prime LNG Limited, an arm of NNPC Trading Limited signed a Supply, Installation and Commissioning Agreement with SDP Services, an independent oil and gas company, for a 421 tonnes per day LNG project targeting the domestic LNG market.
The Small-Scale LNG (SSLNG) Project agreement was signed by the Managing Director, of NNPC Trading Ltd., Mr. Lawal Sade, on behalf of NNPC Prime LNG Ltd. while Mr. Abhinav Modi, Managing Director of SDP Services Ltd., signed on behalf of his company.
The MD NNPC Trading Ltd., Mr. Lawal Sade said the SSLNG Project will boost the domestication of LNG utilisation by supporting the growth of auto-gas initiatives across the country.
He said, “We are looking at a time frame of 12 months from execution to the commissioning of the project. The project will deliver about 420 tonnes per day of LNG per day into the domestic market, which will enhance efficient delivery of gas to the auto-gas/CNG and industrial customers in line with the Presidential mandate.”
Note that the SSLNG Project, which will be located at Ajaokuta in Kogi State, will ensure the efficient supply of LNG to the Autogas/Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and industrial/commercial customers nationwide. The LNG Project is expected to be operational by December 2024.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, the EVP Gas, Power & New Energy, Mr. Olalekan Ogunleye said NNPC Ltd. is committed to delivering gas to industries nationwide and accelerating the Company’s gas commercialisation efforts through the floating LNG Project.
He said, “We see both projects as having enormous impact all over the country because they are central to the commercialisation of Nigeria’s abundant gas resources and ensuring that our country earns the much-needed foreign revenue from its abundant gas assets. It is also consistent with NNPC Management’s drive to deliver on Mr. President’s gas and power aspirations across the country.”
I live in my private residence — Gbajabiamila denies N21bn allocation for renovation
Following nationwide outcry by Nigerians regarding the 2024 Appropriation Bill, the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, has denied that N21 billion was budgeted for the renovation of his residence.
In a post on his official X (formerly Twitter) handle, Gbajabiamila said there was no provision in the 2024 Appropriation Bill for the renovation of his residence, stressing that he lives in his private apartment.
He said the amount quoted online was for renovating the Presidential Quarters in Dodan Barracks and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos.
He wrote, “I have seen social media commentary regarding the 2024 Appropriation Bill, particularly the provisions under the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President. Owing to the erroneous nature of these reports, it has become necessary to clarify that there is no provision in the 2024 Appropriation Bill for the renovation of any residence for the Chief of Staff to the President. I live in my private residence.
“The sums mischievously quoted by online bloggers and fake news merchants are for renovating the Presidential Quarters in Dodan Barracks and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos, to overhaul the information management and communications facilities in the Presidency to meet modern standards and to provide vehicles for the staff of the Presidency.”
Gbajabiamila explained that the sums earmarked for these projects are stated in the budget proposal and bear no resemblance to the deceptive online commentary.
He said that President Tinubu’s administration welcomes and encourages scrutiny of government expenditure; adding that is why the budget proposal is publicly available.
“The sums proposed for these projects are clearly stated in the budget proposal and bear no resemblance to the deceptive online commentary.
“This administration welcomes and encourages scrutiny of government expenditure; this is why the Budget proposal is publicly available. However, healthy public debate about government actions requires us to be responsible with our utterances and engage based on facts rather than insinuations and falsehoods,” he concluded.
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