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AMCON takeover leaves Arik Air and Aero Contractors worse off  – Gabriel Olowo



Dr. Gabriel Olowo e1680076119443

As the controversies continue to trail the impact of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in the Nigerian aviation industry, the immediate President of Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gabriel Olowo has described the corporation’s performance in the aviation industry as suicidal.

Olowo also advised the Federal Government to assess the general impact of AMCON in the businesses it has taken over since its establishment in 2010 in order to determine its continuous existence or not.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nairametrics in Lagos over the weekend, Olowo who is also the Chairman of Sabre Tech, regretted that AMCON’s takeover of Arik Air and Aero Contractors had left the two airlines worse off than it met them.

AMCON Incursion

Recall that AMCON had partially taken over Aero Contractors in 2013 from the Ibru family due to alleged debts.

The corporation fully took over the airline in 2016, while it took over the running of Arik Air on February 9, 2017, claiming that the airline was indebted to different financial institutions and vendors to the tune of N300 billion, an allegation the shareholders of the airline, led by Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide has since debunked.

Kick Against AMCON

Olowo said that he had always kicked against the takeover of aviation companies by AMCON saying that as a receiver manager, the corporation was set up to kill businesses and not to turn them around.

He insisted that the priority of AMCON was to pay back the debts owed to banks by companies and not necessarily to sustain the businesses.

He said: “It is suicidal, criminal; from day one, I have always been against AMCON takeover. I said if you are a receiver manager, you are there to kill the business, but a turnaround manager is to set the debt aside for a period of time and return the business back to life.

  • “What AMCON was doing was to pay the banks indebtedness and still run the airlines. It is not possible, especially the damage of collapsing off-balance sheet loan to on balance sheet. Something that was already on 4 per cent and went to 14 to 16 per cent, is automatic bankruptcy and that is why Arumemi-Ikhide has been going in and out of courts.
  • “You killed Arik, Aero Contractors and the system also killed Nigeria Airways. So, if you want an aviation that would thrive, everything necessary for the sector to survive must be given.
  • “To make a decision on whether AMCON should remain or not is very simple; evaluate the involvement of AMCON in all the businesses it took over. The government gave it the task and not me. What did they do in Arik and Aero? Are the two airlines still flying? Are the banks they owe, are they smiling now? If all the answers are yes, then, leave AMCON, but if it is the reverse, AMCON should go.”

Airports Concession and National Carrier Project

On the suspension of airport concession and national carrier projects by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, Olowo insisted this could not be termed policy summersaults.

According to him, the past administration for its eight years in office failed to start any of the two projects and only attempted to hoodwink the public in the last minutes.

For instance, Olowo explained that not much was known about airports concession, stressing that to solve the challenges of poor airport infrastructure, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should be unbundled as a government monopoly.

On the national carrier project, Olowo insisted that the world had since moved from a national carrier to flag carriers.

Stakeholders’ Meeting

Besides, Olowo advised Keyamo to call a stakeholders’ meeting to unveil the government roadmaps to the public, lamenting that the sector was faced with various challenges that required government’s quick attention.

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