AMCON’s NG Eagle in line for AOC
December 6, 2021773 views0 comments
By Sade Williams/business a.m.
Senate directs corporation to publish debtors list
Senator Uba Sani, chairman, senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, is unhappy with the Ministry of Aviation for frustrating the efforts of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), a government debt resolution agency, that has scaled all huddles that are required by law to set up a new airline tagged NG Eagle, but is being denied the final Air Operating Certificate (AOC) to enable the new airline to commence scheduled operations.
According to Sani, the senate is unhappy that certain agencies of government are working at cross-purposes, noting that this was not in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy.
He therefore directed, on behalf of the committee, the management of AMCON, led by Ahmed Kuru, managing director/chief executive officer, to publish the full list of AMCON obligors in daily newspapers.
Sani spoke at the Zuma Rock Resort in Niger State, and stressed that the upper chamber was particularly not happy with the Ministry of Aviation.
It would also be recalled that AMCON’s intervention in Arik Air Limited in February of 2017 was supported by the Ministry of Aviation to prevent an imminent collapse of another Nigerian airline, especially one that controlled over 60 percent of the domestic air transportation in the country, amongst other public concerns. The intervention was necessary at that time for the continued existence of the airline.
AMCON said it was setting up NG Eagle as a strategic exit from its aviation portfolio. The concerned airlines owed over N300 billion, and all funds injected into the airlines pre, and post receivership, have not yielded any positive repayment result. The exit strategy will create an unencumbered and brand-new airline that would be easier to dispose of profitably.
A noticeably angry Sani said: “This AMCON intervention in Arik and the frustration the agency is going through because of its proposal to set up NG Eagle as the best option to recover its investment in the airlines is not supposed to be. I think we are about to lose billions of naira because of ego. The ministry is not being realistic with its proposal of a national carrier and because of that, frustrating the efforts of AMCON on NG Eagle.
“I say it is not realistic after we listened to the explanations of the ministry that the government will own only 5% of the new national carrier, Nigerians will own 46% and yet to be named foreign interest will own 49%. So, I think the executive arm of government will work together with the 9th senate under this committee to ensure that the right things are done to enable AMCON recover this huge outstanding N4.4 trillion debt.”
Ahmed Kuru, the AMCON chief executive, explained that, “AMCON getting involved in the airline is not from a recovery perspective, but from a national duty perspective, to ensure that the airline continued to operate given its strategic importance in the aviation sector at that time.
“After intervention by AMCON, the airline continued to meet its obligations, particularly that of the Aviation Ministry. The airline has so far remitted over N12 billion as ongoing obligations to the ministry. The corporation also realized that at a certain point in time it must prepare an exit strategy from all its aviation portfolio, and based on advice, decided to set up NG Eagle through the process of certification by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“It was a very vigorous process that took us more than two years. Ultimately, we were able to meet all the requirements including getting three aircrafts branded (they are currently at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, branded as NG Eagle) and ready for operation but we are being frustrated,” Kuru said.
The AMCON chief executive added: “NG Eagle is not a national carrier. We have no business with that. We are only concerned with recovering our money, but first we were told that NG Eagle sounds too much like a national carrier. We reminded them that they had issued a license to United Nigeria Airlines, and somehow that one does not sound like a national carrier to them.
“We are also aware that based on the NCAA Act, the only condition for the NCAA to deny anyone a license to operate an airline should be based on safety reasons, which would be investigated and brought to the attention of the applicant for fair hearing. Suddenly, we are again being confronted with the challenge through the National Assembly that the license should not be released until AMCON settles Arik debt with NCAA, this we believe is an afterthought.”