Whereas most insurance firms hid under the challenging operating environment in 2015 to deny their shareholders the much desired dividends, Niger Insurance took exception to this and declared a dividend of 3.5 kobo, Ebere Nwoji reports

The insurance industry, among other sectors of the economy, is witnessing another period of financial result declaration and presentation of individual company’s score cards to investors.

Those whose financial reports have been approved by the regulatory agencies, now hold their annual general meetings and declaring returns on investment to their shareholders for the year ended December 31st, 2015.

As at the last count in the month of July, less than half of total 59 insurance and reinsurance institutions operating in the country have successfully satisfied the regulators in the preparation of their annual reports and accounts in line with the new account reporting system adopted by the International Finance Reporting Standard (IFRS).

Among these insurance firms who have satisfied the regulators in their financial reports presentation and are qualified to hold their 2015 AGMs is the Niger Insurance Plc, which recently took its shareholders and other stakeholders to the Federal Capital Territory for its 46th AGM.

This 46th edition of the company’s meeting, was presided over by its new Chairman Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, who took over the mantle of leadership of the company’s board from the erstwhile Chairman, Alhaji Bala Zakariya’u, whose retirement from Niger insurance took effect from January 1, 2016 after 23years of meritorious service in different capacities in the company.

Abubakar, a trained lawyer and an administrator with vast experience at senior executive level in both private and public sectors will steer the affairs of Niger insurance board for the next ten years according to the industry prevailing law and is expected to bring his wealth of experience as a board room guru from other sectors of the economy where he operates to bear in the operations of the company.

Abubakar, who sits on the board of other prominent organisations in the country such as Nigerian Communications Commissions as commissioner, Sahelian Energy and Integrated Services as the chairman, Sahelian Power SPV Limited, owner of Kano Electricity Distribution Company as a board member, and Northwest Power limited, preferred bidder for kaduna Electricity Distribution Company plc as the chairman, is expected to use his vast influence in both local and international business arena, to attract foreign investors into Niger insurance especially at this time indigenous insurance firms have become the toast of foreign investors and at this time that dynamism in modern insurance business underwriting has spelt the need for foreign shareholding and technical partnerships among indigenous firms.

Shareholders of the company, at the meeting, said dilution of ownership structure of Niger insurance, which is currently wholly owned by Nigerians has remained the best way to beef up the company’s capital and bring in investors with world class business ideas especially as federal government has indicated interest in reviewing upward the minimum share capital of insurance firms.

At the meeting, Abubakar, presenting the company’s score card to the shareholders, informed that Niger Insurance lost a major federal government account as a result of the transfer of the Deposit Administration Schemes to a designated federal government agency in full implementation of Pension Reform Act 2004.
He however, said in spite of this, Niger Insurance showed resilience to maintain and achieve above average market performance.

He announced the Performance of the company for the period saying, “our company recorded a gross premium written of N10.497billion in 2015 compared to N11.065 billion achieved in 2014.
According to him, the figure, represents five percent decline in the company’s premium in the current year.

He gave further reports of the company’s performance for the year saying, ” net premium income of N10.596billion was achieved in the current year as againstN10.536 billion written in the previous year showing a marginal net growth of one percent.

Profit-wise, Abubakar said Niger insurance during the year under review, grew its Profit Before Tax from N638.465million in 2014 to N703.948 in 2015, representing 10 percent improvement.

Also Niger Insurance group grew its operating profit before tax (PBT) from N644.781million in 2014 to N736.030 million in 2015 showing 14 percent growth.
Profit after tax (PAT) for the company for the year under review stood at N569.189 million while that of the group stood at N600.911million.

Total Asset of the company stood at N22.215billion in 2014 declining to N20.386billion in 2015.Similarly, total liabilities of the company went down from N14.268billion to N12.161 billion.
Abubakar explained that the downward movement in the performance of the company was as a result of discontinuation in underwriting of the deposit administration scheme and the application of relevant assets to settle substantial part of the liabilities thereof.

The Niger Insurance boss, said despite the challenges faced by businesses during the year under review, Niger Insurance was glad to declare 3.5 kobo dividend to the shareholders.
With this, Niger Insurance has distinguished itself as one of the few insurance companies that declared dividend to shareholders for the period under review.

From past records, Niger insurance has built culture of regular dividend declaration over the years.

Managing Director of the Company, Mr. Kolapo Adedeji, commenting on this stated:
He added: “To every company, you have important stake holders. To us, shareholders are very important stake holders, another set of important stake holders to us are the employees; then, most importantly, the customers and again the government. When you talk about the customers, is a subset of the society. So you have to also have consideration for the society and that is why we talk about corporate social responsibility.

“We don’t give money to the shareholders we deliver value to all stakeholders including government in the area of taxation, giving back to the society through Corporate Social Responsibility, for employees you have to remunerate ,to shareholders, returns on investment to make them feel they have a stake in the company.

Over the years, we have been very consistent in recognising and rewarding the shareholders because they are diverse, you have retirees, working class, you also have people that are there for the purpose of growing their businesses, the board considers these and tries to maintain the tradition of rewarding them consistently. We know the times are hard; but after the rain, comes the sunshine, so we believe there is still light at the end of the tunnel.”

Adedeji said Niger Insurance is continually making efforts to consolidate its position in Nigerian Insurance market adding that to achieve this, the management had established a company-wide corporate strategy retreat session with the agenda of adopting new vision, mission and core value statement as well as adopt a strategic plan to create more value for the company stakeholders in the short to medium term.