Stories by Ebere Nwoji
The federal government has said that in a bid to achieve its financial inclusion target, it plans to extend pension and insurance coverage to 30 million Nigerians at the grass root levels who do not have access to financial services.
The Acting Director General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the move would ensure that 40 per cent adult Nigerians are covered under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
The PenCom DG, said the figure includes self-employed Nigerians yet to officially embrace any form of financial services product.
Speaking at the 4th edition of the annual national conference organised by the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondents (NAIPCO) in Lagos, stakeholders said majority of Nigerians in the informal sector were yet to be aware of the numerous benefits in embracing financial services products.
The experts said in order to ensure that every Nigerian has access to financial services, the federal government, had come up with the micro insurance scheme as well as micro pension products to penetrate the grassroots and get to those not currently registered under the CPS, nor covered by any form of insurance policy.
Dahir-Umar, who was represented by the Head, Benefit Administration Unit, PenCom, Babatunde Philips, said President Mohammadu Buhari, in March, 2019, launched the micro pension scheme to provide the informal sector with a veritable means of securing old age income. She said the implementation of the Micro Pension Plan (MPP) would yield positive results for Nigerians and the pension industry, adding that it would assist greatly in reduction of old age poverty in the country.
According to her, “the commission has put in place requisite infrastructure to facilitate seamless implementation of micro pension plan.”
She said the Enhanced Contribution Registration System (ECRS) has been deployed to facilitate seamless operations of the micro pension plan, adding that the system has so far aided the smooth registration of micro pension contributors.
Similarly, the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) had been doing a lot in terms of financial inclusion in the past eight years.
The acting commissioner, who was represented by the Director, Governance Enforcement and Compliance, Leo Aka, said it required collective efforts to ensure that Nigerians in the informal sector embrace financial services.
Looking at the demographic of Nigeria, Thomas, said one would notice that unemployment rate in Nigeria was quiet high, adding that this was a signal that the industry needs to move fast to capture the people in the informal sector.
He said the insurance commission had issued some guidelines to ensure that those not in the formal sector embrace financial services. Thomas, added that while establishing the micro insurance guidelines, the commission ensured that the micro insurance products are very simple, easy to understand, affordable, valuable in that it should be able to address needs and remain efficiency.
He also disclosed that two companies had so far been approved to underwrite micro insurance products, two others at the final stage of review while about seven companies are under review.
To ensure that the micro insurance meets its objective, Thomas, said the commission carries out appraisal from time to time to ensure that micro insurance products that have been designed for the people actually meet their purpose.