By Mr. Ahmed Lawan Kuru
The Publisher/Editor and Management of Realnews Magazine
Gentlemen of the Press
Ladies and gentlemen.
Please allow me to join the organisers in welcoming you all to this 11th Realnews Anniversary Lecture & Investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame.
I want to believe it is one of those no holds barred ‘media agenda setting’ by my sister – Maureen and her team at Realnews to bring to the fore once again, one of those threats to the economy of our country, and our continent, which if left unattended will hurt us as a collective.
Although I have been asked to deliver the Keynote, which is more like lay the foundation for our guest lecturers and discussants to further dissect in great details, let me say that I totally agree with the organisers on the theme for this year’s lecture – “The Threats of Illicit Funds Flow To the African Economy.” It is indeed one very important area we all need to pay close attention to.
To set the ball rolling, let me remind us that the World Bank (WB) had described illicit funds flow or illicit financial flow (IFF) as “Money illegally earned, transferred, or used that crosses borders.”
Looking at this simple definition of IFF, every discerning mind can easily point out the dangers this practice can pose to any economy be it in Nigeria or in Africa at large. It also tells us that government at all levels as well as private enterprises must all work as gatekeepers if this challenge is to be tackled or even eradicated.
I agree with the World Bank that IFF is so dangerous if not checked because amongst its many vices, it reduces domestic resources, and tax revenue needed to fund poverty-reducing programmes, and infrastructure in developing countries such as Nigeria. Accordingly, these issues are receiving growing attention as key development challenges. Aside from IFFs reducing resources, they are also symptomatic of other issues that constrain poverty reduction, and shared prosperity, such as vested interests, and weak transparency, and accountability.
I want to state here that, if institutions in Nigeria, and across the African continent can strengthen their internal processes, and make them transparent and accountable, the energies that propel activities of illicit funds flow would be cut off thus making it extremely difficult for it to thrive. This is not a job that should be left to ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) of the government alone, it should be a collective fight that the media should champion like Realnews Magazine is doing today.
Having said that there is no overemphasising the fact that curbing IFFs requires strong international cooperation, and concerted action by developed and developing countries (including Nigeria) in partnership with the private sector and civil societies. I am sure that is one of the discussions I would want our speakers and discussants to help us understand in deeper details during this programme. I also believe that the banks have critical roles to play just as the World Bank especially with its technical knowledge and global convening power must join forces especially with the weaker countries to combat
For me, no matter how we look at it, IFFs pose a huge challenge to political, and economic security around the world, particularly to developing countries. Corruption, organized crime, illegal exploitation of natural resources, fraud in international trade and tax evasion are as harmful as the diversion of money from public priorities. Activities such as illegal logging, fishing, and mineral extraction (like we are experiencing in Zamfara and Enugu States) are strongly connected with deforestation, the depletion of fishing stocks and environmental degradation as well as the impoverishment of individuals and communities who rely on those resources to sustain their existence…And I can go on, and on.
But Realnews has carefully selected speakers and discussants that would do justice to all of these, and I believe will help suggest to us steps that we can take to tackle the growing challenge. What is important is that we must as a nation realize that we have real problem that needs well thought out solution.
Our institutions both public and private must therefore put measures in place to frustrate IFFs like we have tried to do at AMCON since we came on board.
For the purpose of this gathering and for the benefit of some participants that are here from outside of Nigeria, I would like to take your minds back to the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, which had adverse effect on the Nigerian economy. Recall in 2008, at the onset of global financial crisis, there were foreign portfolio withdrawals of credit lines and investment from Nigeria. The stock market also collapsed leading to loss of about 80% of its value just as there was a major banking crisis due to poor risk management that led to increase in the non-performing loans of the banks.
Given the fact that AMCON has a lot of assets for disposal, the Corporation is also mindful of the activities of illicit funds, and the harm it could cause to the economy.
Therefore, in our disposal of AMCON assets – and I say this with all sense of responsibility and sincerity; the sort of due diligence AMCON has put in place over the years to check the profile of the prospective buyer is cumbersome. Aside from the regular KYC forms that the interested buyer would fill, AMCON would amongst other things demand your BVN details, profile of the buyer, location, financial flow, kind of business, bank statement and sworn court affidavit among others. Even though AMCON wants to dispose the assets and recover money for the federal government, all these hurdles are designed to
ensure that we do not receive directly or indirectly illicit funds.
Having said all that I have said within the allotted time the organisers assigned to me, I must state that this discussion is timely, and could not have come at a better time in the quest to contribute to the development of our great country. I trust the discussants to do justice to this all-important topic, and at the end of the programme come up with suggestions that would further advance our nation.
I thank you very much for listening.
Being the Keynote address by Mr. Ahmed Lawan Kuru OFR, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) at the 11th Anniversary Lecture & Investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame on Tuesday November 7, 2023, at Sheraton Hotel Ikeja, Lagos.
-November 09, 2023 @ 16:05 GMT |