• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘AMCON buy-back of N132bn airlines’ debt saves over 7,000 jobs’

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The timely intervention of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in the aviation sector by taking over the over N132 billion debt of airlines have saved over 7,000 crew from losing their jobs.

When some mega airlines were almost going under last year due to insolvency, AMCON waded in and bought some of the debt burdening the airlines in a bid to keep them afloat.

The last and still current is Aero which almost collapsed until AMCON came in.

Currently, AMCON controls 60 percent shares in Aero while the remaining 40 percent belongs to the Ibrus who originally started the airline.

A debt overhang of N32 billion would have seen to the end of the airline save for the timely intervention of AMCON.

Apart from Air Nigeria which left the scene due to financial distress, others have been trying to cope in the face of lack of operational funds as they are enmeshed in debts to various agencies.

To add to the injury, the directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to desist from giving credit facilities to airlines, made the airlines to start thinking of accessing loans overseas, which may be more difficult.

According to the CBN, Aero Contractor owes N32.579 billion.

While reacting to the call by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Nigeria should wind up AMCON, Isaac Balami, president of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), explained that the Corporation has yet to finish its job in the country, especially, the aviation sector adding that it has reshaped the economy by stabilising companies, wondering why it should be wound up.

Balami noted however that the only aspect it will agree with the global monetary body was that its continued existence was accumulating bad debt.

He was of the opinion that many companies which had survived till now had done so as a result of AMCON’s intervention.

“We are aware that AMCON has successfully navigated over two hundred (200) interventions of debt buy over across all sectors of the Nigerian economy. In the aviation sector in particular, AMCON spread its magic wand across twelve (12) airlines (Arik, Aero, IRS, Bellview, Chanchangi, Afrijet, Albarka, Caverton, Continental, Air Nigeria, and Savannah) with over N132 billion financial involvement. Some of these transactions are still in the process of becoming manifest.

“These interventions not only saved the airlines from going under, but saved over 7,000 jobs. Without the intervention, the entire aviation sector in Nigeria would have collapsed totally like the textile sector suffered in time past. Merely contemplating such turns the stomach, not to talk of the huge chain-effect that would attend such catastrophe.

“Therefore, if AMCON’s intervention has saved the banking/financial sector, aviation sector and all the other sectors, and if AMCON has contributed so hugely to saving the economy of this country, then the government and people of Nigeria, as well as her well wishers should applaud and commend the AMCON and its clearly identifiable accomplishments – not crucify it.

He said the government should ignore the IMF call to wind up AMCON saying “it is an idea seen to be ignoble and which has been roundly discredited.

“It is nothing short of the usual imperialist chant that the IMF is identified with. The least that can be done in the circumstance is for us all to shut our ears to this highly discordant tune coming from the IMF.

“AMCON has done a commendable job. And they should be allowed to complete their assignment at their own due pace, and in their own due time. Even as we await the fuller manifestation of AMCON’s rich harvest, we, the workers salute them,” Balami added.

SADE WILLIAMS