By Maduka Nweke
The adage, ‘different strokes for different folks’, seems to be apt to the fate of the Nigerian underwriters. According to Mr. Kayode Okunoren, the president of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers(NCRIB), insurance faces poor acceptance by the Nigerian public because the industry is daily gaining traction among the foreigners.
He laments: “It is quite saddening that the insurance industry, in view of its poor acceptance by the public and the low appreciation of its cardinal place in people’s order of priorities, is one of the greatest recipients of the recessive economy in Nigeria.Conversely, the industry is becoming more and more attractive to international investors who are making silent but impressive inroads into the market.”
The solution to the apathy, says Okunoren, may not be far fetched if the enforcement of compulsory insurance is implemented.
“This will enhance the industry’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as reduce exposures to risks by members of the public,” he said.
On other benefits for Nigerians, he added,
“We appreciate the renewed efforts being made by NAICOM and the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) in re-energising the campaign towards enforcement of compulsory insurance in Nigeria as enshrined in Section 64 and 65 of the Insurance Act.
“Also, the consideration being given to the Nigerian Fire Service in the scheme of things will assist the institution in undertaking its statutory responsibilities or primary roles of fire prevention without recourse to government, as it is the practice at the moment. This is the practice in most advanced countries of the world . NCRIB will also continually collaborate with such noble intentions of this kind as they unfold.”
In this interview, the NCRIB boss bares his mind on other issues affecting the industry.
Our council is delighted to note that although the road to our destination, in terms of desirable insurance awareness and growth, may yet be far, we are making conscious efforts towards breasting the tape. There are strong indications that the Nigerian insurance industry is becoming more and more attractive to international investors who are making silent but impressive inroads into the market. Though this is quite cheering, it nevertheless behoves operators to be professional and continually play according to global best practices, which would be benchmarked by the new investors. Together, we can build a virile and formidable insurance sector against all odds where all stakeholders, including you and I, can be proud of.
Generally, as you know, it is not the best of moments for the Nigerian economy, though recent reports have indicated that there is a ray of hope in the horizon. It is quite saddening that the insurance industry is one of the greatest recipients of the recessive economy in Nigeria, in view of its poor acceptance by the public and the low appreciation of its cardinal place in people’s order of priorities. It is a known fact that insurance is often made the least of considerations and as such suffers greatly at a time of economic recession like this. This trend must definitely change with sustained tempo of awareness creation and adherence to ethics and professionalism on the part of the operators.
It is heartwarming to note that this council is unrelenting in sustaining the tempo of public awareness about insurance brokering through its ongoing Corporate Visibility Project. For this purpose, we have set up a committee known as Financial and General Purpose Committee, which, in tandem with the publicity, is implementing the project. In the course of this modest step, we have come to the realisation that the people need insurance more in this period of economic challenges as their ability to replace lost assets becomes more challenging than in the period of plenty. The same also goes for government, which needs to factor insurance into its calculus of economic recovery. This bestows on the insurance industry the responsibility to sustain its campaign for insurance awareness in the country.
We appreciate the renewed efforts being made by NAICOM and the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) in reenergising the campaign towards enforcement of compulsory insurances in Nigeria as enshrined in Section 64 and 65 of the Insurance Act. Needless to say that this effort will enhance the industry’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as reduce exposures to risks by members of the public who ingress and egress in those public facilities. Also, the consideration being given to the Nigerian Fire Service in the scheme of things will assist the institution in undertaking its statutory responsibilities or primary roles of fire prevention without recourse to government as it is the practice at the moment. This is the practice in most advanced countries of the world and it is my hope that the synergy would be sustained. Suffice it to say that the NCRIB will also continually collaborate with such noble intentions of this kind as they unfold.
Recently, the Nigerian media space was awash with the news of disagreement over the management of annuity between the insurance industry and National Pension Commission. It was so disheartening that many Nigerians had misinterpreted the information thereby causing panic in the society about the future of pension administration in the country. The timely intervention of the Minister of Finance on the issue is most applaudable. The NCRIB will continue to support any initiative that would enhance the growth of the Nigerian insurance industry by changing its narratives, while at the same time identifying with the need to make workers comfortable after active working life.
Ease of doing business in Nigeria and govt efforts
I appreciate the initiative of the Federal Government on its efforts in creating an enabling environment for business operations in Nigeria. The Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business has the onerous task of dismantling all inhibitions against business initiation and growth in the country.
While the committee is already engaging strategic stakeholders in working out the modalities, it is the belief of the council that the insurance industry should be involved in the process in view of its pivotal place in business development. As we are all aware, business growth must definitely come with risks, which require professionals to handle and manage. Notwithstanding, the NCRIB will always seek ways to make contributions towards this lofty initiative that is capable of ensuring a robust business growth and survival of our national economy.
Naira Vs insurance
It is heartwarming that in the last few weeks the naira has been appreciating against other foreign currencies, bringing a little succour to Nigerians. To all intents, the efforts of government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in this regard are quite commendable. As a consuming nation, we all know the agonies which the weakening naira posed to daily living and survival of Nigerians.
However, the take of NCRIB is that the firming up of the naira should be more systemic to sustain the trend. Government must be unrelenting in promoting the production of local products that could be exported to earn foreign exchange in the international market.
Our diversification initiatives must be followed through while there should be a renewed campaign in re-orientating the minds of the citizens away from over dependence on foreign goods and services. Definitely, there is no nation that can ever develop depending wholly on foreign products.