Chairman, Niger Insurance Plc, Alhaji Bala Zakariya’u
By Nnamdi Duru
A seasoned insurance professional and Chairman of Niger Insurance Plc, Alhaji Bala Zakariya’u, has charged insurance operators to design and make available to Nigerians products acceptable to them.
He presented operators with this challenge in his presentation at the just-concluded 2012 Professionals’ Forum hosted by the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) in Ibadan, Oyo State recently.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Beyond Professionalism: Making a Difference’, Zakariya’u asked the operators to back up such needs-satisfying products with worthwhile after sales services in order to build and retain the confidence of the insurance public in the country.
He cited the 2010 Sigma Report, which ranked Nigeria as the 5th insurance market in Africa and 66th in the world with gross premium written of $2 billion or N300 billion, adding that insurance penetration per capita was lower in the country even by African standards.
“The official data available indicates in the last five years Nigeria GDP growth has been at a rate of 5-7 per cent per annum. Even after adjusting for inflation rate fluctuating between 10-15 per cent this is still a remarkable growth in comparative terms to other economies of the world, most of which are in recession,” he said
“We can improve the future of the industry if we offer products that would be acceptable and to have the capacity to give excellent after sales services. With a large young urban based population, mass appeal products or the retail market type products would do well,” Zakariya’u stressed.
He predicted that the insurance industry was about recording sustainable growth in personal lines or retail insurance, commercial lines and oil and gas insurance businesses respectively. “We must however as an industry be more creative in product development and operate with integrity,” Zalariya’u said.
The Niger Insurance Chairman expressed regret that in spite of available technology for enhancing productivity and financial control, an observation of activities of most insurance managers in the country showed that they have shown a high level of apathy for automation and deployment of technology tools.
“It is a regrettable action in this ever-evolving digital age in which we find ourselves today. Information Technology is a major driver of cost and value, and therefore a critical strategic issue for insurance companies,” he observed.
In order to make the industry better; he harped on the need for operators to ensure integrity and embrace good corporate governance as a solution to the many ills plaguing the industry today.
Zakariya’u also noted that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has continued to implement pragmatic supervision in the last five year and has introduced key initiatives to help raise the level of insurance penetration in the country. It is envisaged that by 2020 written premium income of the industry will pass the trillion naira mark, he added.