OpinionTop NewsUncategorized

Debt Recovery: CBN Fully Supportive Of Akwa Savings – Ebong Bassey


In banking spheres, the name, Ebong Okon Bassey resonates. Often described as a square peg in a square hole, Mr. Bassey, is known as an astute administrator and a thoroughbred professional. He holds a BSc in Economics and MBA in Finance and has attended several courses locally and internationally in the course of his over 23 years of fruitful career in the banking sector.
Mr Bassey, Managing Director of Akwa Savings and Loans Limited, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management, member of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and an Associate of Nigeria Institute of Management.
He worked at Diamond Bank, Eagle Bank, First City Monument Bank, Intercontinental Bank Plc and Access Bank respectively, holding several management positions that covered many states and regions in Nigeria.
Armed with this background, he has taken a revival mission to Akwa Savings and Loans Limited since his appointment as the chief executive officer in August 2016, by His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
In an exclusive interview with Crystal Express, the accomplished Banker speaks on the Akwa Savings, the new product on the bank’s shelf – the Paradise Parks Estate floated mainly for civil servants and other average income earners, efforts undertaken to recover the huge loans from debtors and plans to strengthen the bank for greater productivity. Excepts:

Your new product, the paradise estate is already making waves; please throw more light on the total package.
We have acquired 16 Hectares of land for affordable houses for civil servants mainly. By God’s grace we have paid part of the premium on the land, surveyed it and it is now in the name of Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd. We are working with the Surveyor General’s Office and Ministry of Lands to make sure that the lands will be effectively utilized. The surveyed plan is now with us and we are marking out the layouts.
The land is good and sited in Mbiokporo Nsit, where almost all the Estates including the Federal Mortgage Bank Estate, Arc Nya Etuk’s Estate, etc., are sited. This is an estate that for the first time, Akwa Savings and Loans will do mortgage for civil servants. So we are starting with 50 units. The land is vast and the environment will be busy. Again we believe that the recent publication by Akwa Savings on the lists of debtors will prompt the repayment of the loans which will be used to reinvest partly in the Estate.
Civil servants will be the biggest beneficiaries while the Estate will also help to realize Governor Udom Emmanuel’s dream of affordable Housing Estate for civil servants in the State. For now our main focus is on recovery which we believe God to help us to achieve. We will put it (recovered funds) in the Estate and use some for salaries while awaiting the recapitalization of Akwa Savings and Loans.
So we are optimistic that the publication of the debtor’s names is adding value as we are now talking and negotiating with some of them who initially refused talking to us. Some are now asking us to wave the interest element. Our major focus now in Akwa Savings is mortgage, the management decided that instead of doing commercial banking as it used to be 90 percent and mortgage 10 percent, what we do now is mortgage 75 percent and every other banking activity 25 percent.
So with the support of the Governor, the Commissioner for Lands and Surveyor General, we will get to the Promise Land. We are still talking to developers and we have had meeting with one who will develop 50 units of Two-bedroom flats. We are in tune with CBN and other regulatory agencies. Now all hands are on deck to ensure that the debt recovery exercise is a success.
So, we got ourselves engaged, one for recovery of loans and the also for mortgage. Don’t forget most of the recovery have been written off which is why our shareholders column is negative. So when we have about 100 people remitting their salaries and mortgages every month through our banks with five branches strategically located across the State in the three senatorial districts and with the zeal of our manpower, our goals will be effectively achieved.

How much will civil servants who are interested expected to cough out to own houses in the estate?
We are building affordable houses. As we know, affordable houses are not luxurious houses so the two bedroom will go far N 4.5 million and payment will be spread according to the number of years the person have in the service. It could be spread for over 15 years. Don’t forget that the intended beneficiaries will domicile their salaries with us so that we deduct our funds directly every month and won’t be chasing anybody for remittances. During the last meeting of MD’s of primary mortgage, we had to discuss how we are going to recover debts in collaboration with Central Bank, the apex bank.
The CBN is assisting Akwa Savings to recover its money. We have submitted names of debtor customers and they are assisting us with their BVNs. Thereafter, we can access the funds of the debtors in any commercial bank in Nigeria. For some of them who have refused to give us their BVNs, we have gotten through the Central Bank. So no matter where the debtors have their money, we will access such funds, even if you are a Managing Director in a firm with other signatories, we will access our money if you are indebted to us. That is our strategic method outside selling of Assets.
We are all out to sell off Assets even though we are yet to get the right prices but in few months some of their assets will be sold. We have two in Ewet Housing Estate and as soon as we finish documentation, we will make it public. I appeal to stakeholders to be patient with us as the outcome of the debt recovery will be positive. We waited this much because 99 percent of the people owing us are Akwa Ibom indigenes and some of them are politically exposed persons and we have to wait for the elections to pass.
Now our major focus will be to recover those loans and everybody is in support of this drive except the very few threatening to go to court but I maintain that this is not a personal thing and we are open for negotiation and discussion. The first two years we came we made good recovery; we squeezed them very well to the point that some didn’t have money again. There is every hope that the bank will be great again with the help of all especially the media who must keep all our efforts in the public realm. We are equally appealing to the State Government through the Commissioner for Works to help grade access roads from Ekom Iman – Mbierebe – Mbiokporo that stretch of roads will give our new estate a face lift. As I said earlier, the CBN is fully supportive of our recovery drive. They have assured the primary mortgage institutions that they will help them get back their debts from other banks and I strongly believe that by December, our story will change for good.

The first three names on your list of debtors owe the greater chunk of money. Are they responding to your recovery drive?
Yes, a week ago, we met and did reconciliations which we would have done years ago. One of them will have his assets sold which would pay off the loan and still give him back some money. The Asset is well located in Ewet Housing Estate with buyers already showing interest. The Asset will be sold once we have the highest bidder.

With the arrival of Paradise Park Estate, how many estates will now be credited to the Akwa Ibom Savings?

It will be the third, we have Akwa Savings Estate in Aka-Itiam Road, Uyo which is almost 13-14 years old, and the development is ongoing. We have recently sent letters of warning to those who got plots there to develop them latest by January because we don’t want the estate to be bushy and become hide out for hoodlums. We have another estate called Satellite Estate in Mbiokporo, the lands there have been allocated but it’s yet to be developed but Paradise Estate will develop faster because it’s bigger and we are talking with developers already. The Satellite and Paradise Estates are in the same area but different locations.
The Satellite Estate is little below 5 Hectares of land. The developers usually prefer massive areas to include other facilities and they are coming with their money to build while we pay back at agreed time in six months, one year etc. so this is the third estate we are negotiating with developers.
Since we have over 200 plots in Paradise Park Estate, we start with 50 with a developer and we are conscious of partnering only those who have capacity. They must build to specifications within the agreed sum and specified time and most civil servants will benefit because they are contributors to the National Housing Fund.

Related Articles

Back to top button