From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government has described NICON Insurance as an embodiment of decay, necessitating the sack of its old board last Friday and the reconstitution of a new one on Monday.
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex A Okoh, also a board member, lamented the decay on Monday, at the board’s maiden meeting held at its head office in Abuja.
According to him, NICON Insurance remains one of the few bad cases of privatisation in the country.
He regretted the rot at the firm, which was a going concern before privatisation but has been grossly mismanaged.
He thus appealed to the management and staff to collaborate and cooperate with the Board on its rescue mission to bring NICON insurance to operational vibrancy and suitability for divesting once again.
Earlier in his remarks, the new Board Chairman, Mr Lamis Dikko called for cooperation and hard work in taking the firm to the next level.
Dikko, who led other Board members to the meeting said that the task at hand was to reposition the firm, which he described as a national legacy.
He said the meeting was a prelude to last Friday’s meeting of the Board where far-reaching decisions, including the immediate termination of the appointments of the erstwhile Managing Director and Executive Directors of the insurance company, were taken.
Dikko explained that the mandate of the new Board was to preserve NICON Insurance as a going concern until a new investor comes aboard as the previous owner had woefully failed to sustain and maintain the organisation.
He said all staff that were desirous to stay back and work for the good of the organisation had nothing to fear but to support the new board to turn around the fortunes of the company.
Also speaking at the forum, Also speaking, the interim Managing Director, Mr John Abuh Oyidiih charged the workers to cooperate with the Board and management to reclaim the lost glory of the insurance company ‘which is an institution and can’t be allowed to go down”, adding that “you do not need to hold an allegiance to any individual but the institution.’
The Board members had arrived at the company’s premises as early as 7:30 am but could not gain access to the Boardroom as it was under lock while the only functional elevator in the building was shut down. It was not until some of the management workers sauntered in as from 8:00 am that the elevator was eventually switched on and the Board room opened and cleaned up for the meeting.
NICON Insurance was privatised in 2005 with the core investor having 70% shares with the Federal Government retaining 30 per cent. The Federal Government shares were later diluted but the fortunes of the company continued to decline with most of the assets used as collateral to collect loans from banks. This prompted the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over affairs of the company, a decision the core investor went to court to challenge. The court ruled in favour of AMCON but the investor went on an appeal which the court asked the parties to maintain the status quo leading to Monday’s take over by the new Board.