Ahmed Kuru, managing director of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, who was a discussant at the Realnews Fifth Anniversary Lecture on November 16, says the conspiracy of the elites have worked so hard to deter the progress of Nigeria
By Anayo Ezugwu
THE federal government has been urged to build strong institutions that will prevent corruption and impunity in the country. Ahmed Kuru, managing director, Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, said unless the country continues to work towards building the institutions, it will continue to struggle to make a difference.
At the fifth anniversary lecture of Realnews in Lagos, on Thursday, November 16, Kuru said once institutions are strong, the citizens will not be insisting that a particular person must head a particular agency, unit, department or ministry because the institutions are strong enough to resist any form of irregular behaviour.
Kuru, who was one of the discussants at the Lecture spoke on the topic: “Leadership in a Turbulent Industry”. He said: “For me I always tell people privately that what worries me is not corruption but impunity because if there is consequence around all our activities, I strongly believe that it will mitigate the corrupt tendency that we see. There is corruption in America and Europe but you know that once you take N1 as you are taking it you know the implication.
“Immediately they catch you, you know the implication. I think we need to work very hard on the issues relating to impunity because unless we remove impunity from our society, it will continue to affect the kind of leadership that we aspire to be. Let us look at the concept of getting into office under the democracy that we practice, under the leadership that we aspire to be. If as a leader either at the local government level, state level or at the federal level, you stand and say that you are going to aspire for an office and you are not going to sit down and negotiate; you will not get into that office.
“You can decide when you get to the office to forget about the promises that you made but you have to compromise certain principles in you for you to get to the office, which means that strictly speaking it is not only about service. If you go to the local government level today and you are the chairman of the union, maybe the man has a motorcycle and he served for three years.
“And after the third year he leaves office still with his motorcycle, his community will call him and remind him the curse they put on his father and great grand fathers that is why he is still very poor. In spite of the fact that we know his salary is maybe N250,000. If he has not succeeded in building a house, they will tell him that he is going to die a poor man. This is in our DNA. I don’t know where we lost it?
“Individually, if you pick anybody here, all these are potential governors, senators and house of assembly and House of Representatives members. But when you bring people together and you put them in an office, somehow something happens which tells you that the institution building mechanism needs to be looked at again,” he said.
As the AMCON boss, he said that one of the most corrupt sectors in the country is the banking sector. He highlighted the humongous corruption going on in the sector and how the banks are helping in carrying out corruption. “One of the best places to work is the banking industry and sometimes even under a turbulent situation. Banking industry is the only industry where you book a very bad credit. Maybe you book a credit of N2 billion after one year the credit will not be performing. After two years you will write it off your books and everybody goes home and sleep.
“You have N200 million in your appropriation account meanwhile you have booked a N2 billion credits knowing full well that was not supposed to be paid and nothing happens. We operate in a system where we reward bad behaviour. What we look at is what is the end result and the size of the balance sheet.
“How do you justify having a capital of N1 billion and recording a profit of N120 billion in a turbulent economy. How do you justify booking a credit and charging 27 percent interest rate in a country that the manufacturing sector cannot even have profit of more than 20 percent annually? There is so many conspiracies and we are all part of it.”
According to Kuru, Nigeria and indeed other from African countries need to look at the kind of democracy they practice and structure a system that will suit the continent. “Nigeria is not a small country at all. Sometimes you wonder what is wrong with us because in terms of capacity we are not lacking. In terms of character, I must tell you we have very good people, one of the finest gentlemen that is, like a role model for me, General Agwai here, is the finest general you can think about anywhere in the world.
“We are all familiar with why he left the previous administration. I’m sure quite a lot of us know. It is not that we don’t have good people, we have them and we also have capacity. But there is always conspiracy of the elites, whether it is from the southwest, north east, I can assure you that we are altogether because I cannot say I’m not in the elite. Fortunately for me, there is that conspiracy and the conspiracy of the elites have worked so hard to deter the progress of Nigeria.
“It is only a Nigerian that will not be eager to accept a lower standard when it comes to another country. If Nigerian enters toilet in London airport or a toilet in Dubai International Airport, and there is no tussle paper or the cleaner has not cleaned the toilet, you will hear his voice. Almost instantly, but immediately he lands in Lagos, there is no toilet at all for somebody to clean and he will humble himself and will be very happy to carry his bags and go home.