Ahmed Kuru: Startling Abilities Of The Miracle Worker At AMCON

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Ahmed Kuru: Startling Abilities Of The Miracle Worker At AMCON

Ahmed Kuru: Startling Abilities Of The Miracle Worker At AMCON
January 19
07:42 2021

Barring any unforeseen circumstance, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) may have set machinery in motion to float a new local and international airline by pooling together its aviation assets especially planes in debt-ridden Arik Air and Aero Contactors Airlines. The move is seen as an ingenious way devised by Ahmed Kuru, the Chief Executive Officer of AMCON to wriggle out of the liabilities of the airlines and give the Nigerian aviation sector a new lease of life

Unlike the middling marabou, the miracles of Ahmed Kuru, the MD/CEO of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, aren’t deceptive in nature rather; each one is an event that creates faith in his abilities as a fiscal guru and turn-around-manager. The AMCON boss is not just an administrative Managing Director (MD) but a seasoned leader. Administrators are always cheap and easy to find, and even cheaper to keep but leaders are worth their weight in gold. Leaders are risk-takers and they are often in very short supply; those with enduring vision like Kuru are pure gold.

He has evinced that rare ability once again with recent reports that AMCON has reached an advanced stage towards launching a multibillion naira airline by pooling together its aviation assets especially planes in debt-ridden Arik Air and Aero Contactors Airlines. The reports maintain that the new international airline, to be named Nigeria Eagle, may take to the sky with at least 10 planes as early as June.

AMCON took over Arik Air in February 2017 as the airline was said to have been immersed in heavy financial debt that had threatened to permanently ground it. AMCON alleged that the Airline, which catered for about 55% of the passengers in the country, had been going through difficult times, attributable to its bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries, and heavy debt burden, among other issues. Arik’s debt was estimated at over N375billion comprising domestic and foreign investors.

However, since the government took over in 2017, the airline has been struggling to survive as staff have downed tools over the years due to poor remuneration among other welfare issues.

Earlier in 2016, AMCON took over the management of Aero Contractors after dissolving its board and appointed a manager to run its affairs in an interim capacity. AMCON stated that the decision to take over the management of the company was in furtherance of its responsibility of acquiring eligible bank assets and putting them to economic use in a profitable manner. AMCON is both the majority shareholder and creditor of Aero Contractors. While assuring regulatory authorities, the travelling public, and key stakeholders that the airline would continue to “operate on the solid foundation of safety and security with excellent customer service,” the corporation added that its intervention is in the public interest, and to sustain and improve the robust and premium quality service, which Aero was known for.

Aero Contractors and Arik Air joined a long list of airlines that have failed in Nigeria in the past decade owing to what Kuru described as a myriad of unethical business conduct, including greed and financial rascality by their owners.
At a roundtable event in 2019 where he delivered a paper themed; “Aircraft Financing: The Issues & Challenges of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON)”, Kuru blamed the challenges faced by the airline operators on the unpredictable and unstable foreign exchange regime in the country; the non-existent good corporate governance principles; lack of due diligence procedure and other associated risks as well as over-invoicing, among other challenges. Yet, he said, “Regardless of the mode of transport – the aviation sector has proved to be a catalyst for the economic development of nations. It is the wheel that drives economic activities. The air transport sector facilitates trade, tourism; boosts productivity in the economy; improves efficiency in the supply chain; it is an enabler for investments; can spur innovation, facilitate commerce and provide fast and reliable delivery of cargoes and services.”

Mindful of this, the Nigerian Eagle, a brainchild of AMCON, under Kuru, is seen as a bright spark in a mottled sector. Instructively, Nigeria does not have a national carrier. The last attempt at floating one, the Nigeria Air, in 2018, which was intended to replace the defunct Nigeria Airways that ceased operations in 2003, failed as the Federal Government was unable to attract credible technical partners and investors to support it.

Kuru is not new to birthing novel ideas. Appointed in August 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, Kuru’s charge was to lead the agency out of the doldrums. Typical of many government agencies, allegations of mismanagement and impropriety dogged AMCON’s previous management boards until the coming of Buhari with his wide-reaching anti-corruption reforms.

So far, he has excelled at achieving AMCON’s major objective to be a key stabilizing and re-vitalizing tool established to revive the financial system by efficiently resolving the non-performing loan assets of the banks in the Nigerian economy.

Respected in the banking industry as a result-oriented and deft leader with a strong accountability record, Kuru, until his appointment, had served as MD/CEO of the erstwhile Enterprise Bank Limited, one of the bridge banks established by the CBN, from 2011 to 2014. He led the initiative to restore stakeholders’ confidence in the bank and successfully returned the bank to profitability before it was acquired by Heritage Bank in 2014. Kuru brings into AMCON an extensive experience in banking and financial services garnered over 35 years. His work has earned him recognition in the financial sector as an astute banker and a change agent.

He played a strategic role in the highly successful merger of Habib Bank and Platinum Bank to form one of Nigeria’s vibrant banking brands known as Bank PHB, which he nurtured to prominence before it was renamed Keystone Bank Limited after its acquisition by AMCON. Kuru also worked as a Budget Analyst with the Federal Ministry of Finance before he was later appointed the Executive Vice Chairman of Emeritus Capital Limited, a financial services firm that specialises in international business development focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. Kuru holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; and is also an alumnus of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Lagos Business School and London Business School. He has attended many trainings and seminars across the globe including the High Impact Leadership at Columbia Business School, New York.

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