Gentlemen of the Press
I am most delighted to welcome you here today. I like to first commend you all for your prompt and balanced news reportage of insurance and particularly activities of Registered Insurance Brokers, as well as their pivotal roles to insurance and risk management in the country. You would recall that at our last meeting, I promised to make dialogue of this nature more constant, this parley is coming as a fulfillment of that promise.
Our Council is most 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 in roads into the market.
Though this is quite cheering, it nevertheless behovesoperators 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, which include you and I can be proud of.
Generally, as you know, it is not the best of the moment for Nigeria economy, even 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 consideration and as such suffers greatly at a time of economic recession like this. This trend must definitely change with your sustained tempo of awareness creation and adherence to ethics and professionalism on the part of we the operators.
It is most heartwarming to note that this Council is unrelenting in sustaining the tempo of public awareness about insurance broking through its on- going 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 are implementing the Project. In the course of this modest step we have come to the realization that the people need insurance more in this period of economic challenges as they do their ability to replace lost assets becomes more challenging than in period of plenty. The same also goes for government which needs to factor insurance into its calculus of economic recovery. This behoves the insurance industry the responsibility to sustain its campaign for insurance awareness in the country.
IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPULSORY FIRE INSURANCE
It must not elude me to appreciate the renewed efforts being made by the National Insurance Commission and the Nigerian Insurers Association in reenergizing 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, as well as reduce exposures to risks by members of the publicwho 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.
RESOLUTION OF THE ANNUITIES ISSUE
Recently, the Nigerian Media space was awash with the news of disagreement over the management of annuity between 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 Hon. 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 identify with the need to make workers confortable after active working life.
GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS ON EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
I must not fail to 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. Whilst 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 loft initiative that is capable of ensuring a robust business growth and survival of our national economy.
APPRECIATION IN VALUE OF NAIRA
It is heartwarming that in the last few weeks the naira has been appreciating against other foreign currencies, bringing a little succor to Nigerians. To all intents, the efforts of government through the Central Bank of Nigeria in this regard are quite commendable. As a consuming nation, we all know the agonies which the weakening Nigeria posed to daily living and survival of Nigerians. However, the take of the 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.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media, I like to once again appreciate your acceptance of the invitation to this Press Briefing, with the hope that that this forum would further oil our relationship towards a more progressive insurance industry.
Thank you and God bless.