Wanted, N16 Trillion AMCON Loans for Social Housing

By Akanimo Sampson

The Red Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature is currently making effort via legislative action to recover a huge N16 trillion debt owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Such amount is capable of making housing deficit and poverty in the country history.

With N16 trillion, the Buhari administration can raise its ongoing 300,000 homes initiative across the country for low-income earners under its National Social Housing Programme (NSHP) by 50 times more.

The administration wants low-income earners to easily become homeowners under the new NSHP initiative, which seeks to deliver affordable housing pegged at 300,000 units and millions of jobs for Nigerians.

NSHP is the housing component of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Sustainability Plan to deliver affordable housing and millions of jobs for Nigerians.

Under this programme, 300,000 homes will be constructed in all states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the Family Homes Funds (FHF) as the lead developer, however other Nigerian partnerships and collaborations are welcomed to facilitate the construction of these homes.

NSHP will allow individuals in the low-income bracket to afford a house with as low as N2,000,000 only. According to the government, some of the offers which would be made available for aspiring homeowners throughout Nigeria are: 2-Rooms (1 Bedroom House) for N2,000,000; 3-Rooms (2 Bedroom House) for N2,750,000; and 4-Rooms (3 Bedroom House) for N3,500,000.

The Senate on Tuesday however, considered a Bill seeking to empower AMCON in the aspect of assets recovery, as well as strengthen it against economic sabotage by debtors with unpaid loans to the tune of about N16 trillion.

The AMCON Amendment Bill 2021, which scaled second reading on the floor was sponsored by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central).

Leading debate on the Bill, Bamidele said, “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 the lawmaker, under the current Act, the continued smooth operation of AMCON was threatened by the tenor put on a key funding provision for AMCON. He, therefore, said the proposed amendment was designed to allow for more flexibility in the tenor of this key funding provision.

Bamidele emphasised further 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, “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 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.” On his part, Senator Adamu Aliero representing Kebbi Central said the amendment “will give teeth to AMCON to recover all debts that were given to private individuals and also companies.”

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the Bill after it scaled second reading to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for further legislative work.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Uba Sani was given four weeks to turn in its report.