The war against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is no doubt taking shape by the day.
Since the inception of the government, several heads of organizations have been sent packing with their replacements being named almost immediately.
From the sack of Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Ado Bayero Managing Director Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to Dr. Joseph Dawha the Group Managing Director the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Bright Okogu Head of Nigeria’s Budget Office, Samuel Odugbesan a former Coordinating Director at Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Mustaha Chike-Obi, Managing Director Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the story is not different, as these organizations reek of corruption.
While the spate of corruption in NNPC which saw Dr. Joseph Dawha been replaced by Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu might have been obvious, that of AMCON, which saw the sacking of both the Managing Director Chike-Obi and the entire management team of the corporation is a confirmation that corruption indeed resides there.
According to sources, Chike-Obi’s sack by President Buhari was prompted by alleged cumulative offences committed by the former MD and his team. Some of the offences include the politicisation of AMCON by its leadership and the lack of transparency and competitiveness in the disposition of assets of troubled companies.
While in office, Chike-Obi, we were informed, routinely bypassed the company’s board as well as key regulators such as the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has a 50 percent stake in the business.
Being the largest financial institution in the country today, with assets valued at about N5 trillion, insiders say AMCON was almost unilaterally run by Mr. Chike-Obi.
Chike-Obi, we learnt has also been accused of shady financial deals with debtors, flagrant disregard of the principles of corporate governance, contempt of the directives of the regulatory authorities, among others.
Asides this, his critics also accused him of being engaged in non-transparent and non-competitive sale of assets of some troubled companies.
Some of the properties which he deliberately sold at an undervalued rate includes but not limited to Delta Steel Company which was sold at N28billion as against the N33billion offered by a Chinese company, China Polaris Technologies Company Ltd, despite the latter’s offer to pay immediately.
This explains why in June, a lawyer, Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), raised alarm that AMCON deliberately sold Delta Steel Company to a bidder it had vested interest in; stating that the company that purportedly won the bid, Premium Steel & Mines Ltd, was only incorporated when the bidding was already in full swing on December 14, 2014.
Another company which was sold in the same manner as Delta Steel Company was Enterprise Bank Limited.
Chike-Obi would be remembered for his many controversies one of which is the manner with which Heritage Bank acquired Enterprise Bank Limited.
Industry analyst are presently saying that the acquisition of Enterprise Bank Limited was shrouded in several controversy and back door dealing, as AMCON, Ministry of Finance and CBN were divided over the sales of the bank.
While Mainstreet Bank was also sold the manner with which Enterprise Bank Limited was sold, it has left industry analyst asking several questions including:
1) How does a bank which declared a profit of three billion naira in 2014 get sold to a Heritage Bank which ran at a loss in 2013 and 2014?
2) How does a bank which took a loan from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to offset debts of Societe Generale Bank Nigeria Limited and is yet to pay up buy Enterprise Bank Limited which was thriving as one of the successful banks at the time it was sold?
3) How does a Pan Nigerian Bank with 156 branches ends up been sold to Heritage Bank with less than 10 active branches and no visible financial base?
4) How does a bank which declared profit of three billion naira after tax in 2014 get sold for 56 billion naira?
5) Who sells a profitable bank such as Enterprise Bank Limited to Heritage Bank which didn’t declare it accounts for two years?
6) What does the Nigerian law say about a none publicly quoted bank buying a quoted bank, knowing Heritage Bank is not publicly quoted and Enterprise Bank Limited was?
7) How does a bank which as of December 2012, estimated its total assets at about US$1.63 billion (NGN:261.1billion) with a shareholders’ equity valued at about US$186.5 million (NGN:29.8 billion) in August 2011 get sold at a meager 56 billion naira?
8) How does Enterprise Bank which its Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Kuru stated had improved tremendously in respect of its profit within the first year, and has grown customer base, deposits and loan book be sold to Heritage Bank which is still struggling to find its feet in the banking industry.
All these are questions which industry analyst have revealed would be asked by President Buhari as the review process beckons soonest.
Efforts to get a reaction from Group Head, Corporate Affair Heritage Bank, Fela Ibidapo proved abortive, as text message sent to his mobile number 07034467*** went unanswered, while the message sent to his mail went unattended to.
-Ahmed Korede. Courtesy:theoctopus.