Thomas’s Six-years at NAICOM

After six years as NAICOM boss, insurance operators bid  the former insurance commissioner, Sunday Thomas, farewell last week as Omosehin steps in, writes Ebere Nwoji

Last weekend, the federal government announced  the appointment of  a new board for the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM). This saw change of leadership baton in the administrative seat of the insurance sector regulatory body.

With the appointment, the erstwhile commissioner for insurance and Chief Executive Office of NAICOM, Mr Sunday Olorundare Thomas, having  completed his first tenure in office stepped  aside for, Olusegun Omosehin  hitherto  Chairman Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA)  as the new commissioner for Insurance.

This was contained in a statement read by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, in Abuja.

The sudden leadership change in the commission also saw the emergence of Ms Halima Kyari as the chairperson of NAICOM. She took over from Abubakar Sani, the erstwhile chairman  and Mr Olawoye Gam-Ikon- as Deputy Commissioner Technical who replaced Sabiu Bello Abubakar the former Deputy Commissioner for Insurance Technical.

Also, Dr. Usman Ankara Jimada was appointed Deputy Commissioner (Finance & Administration) to replace Mr Oba Olufemi Oluniyi.

Dr Miriam Kene Kachikwu, Mr Adeniyi Olusegun Fabikun  and Mr Umar Khalifa Mohammed were equally appointed as members of the NAICOM board.

Looking at the nature of the appointment, the timing and the new personalities vis-a-vis the people they are replacing, insurance sector observers said one may be tempted to ask if this  is necessary and desirable at this time? They also asked if it has become the culture of the industry for commissioners of insurance to serve just one tenure irrespective of whether they have done well or not?

According to them, the question arose because taking a critical look at the pedigree  of  Thomas,  one would have no choice than to unequivocally say that he deserved renewal of his tenure for a chance to serve his second tenure like his predecessors who meritoriously served the commission  as he did.

Furthermore, sector analysts have viewed that announcement of his exit as insurance commissioner shouldn’t have come this time considering that just a week before the announcement, the entire insurance industry was thrown into mourning on account of the death of Mrs Oyinade Folashade Thomas, the beloved wife of the former commissioner.

In the view of this, the analysts said though Thomas successfully completed his first tenure in office, the announcement of his exit shouldn’t have come at this time because it will look like double tragedy since it was expected that given his excellent performance as the insurance commissioner, the entire industry including himself would least expect non- renewal of his tenure for a second term.

So to the entire industry, it was a big shock hearing the announcement of his exit at this period of mourning and reflection on account of sudden demise of his wife.

On the other hand, political analysts have argued that when it comes to official matters sentiments and empathy are not often given prime consideration.

Insurance sector operators in the mist of their strong feelings and passion for the ex- commissioner said their consolation was that Thomas was not removed from office but successfully completed his first tenure in office as the commissioner for insurance.

The operators insisted that the  erstwhile insurance commissioner, was  not removed from office as some members of the public termed it but completed his tenure and exited for a new administrative team to take up the commission’s leadership baton.

Some of the operators who spoke to THISDAY  highlighted what they described as some landmark achievements of Thomas and qualities in the in -coming commissioner that have made them repose their confidence in the new commissioner and his team.

In his reaction, erstwhile Chairman Nigeria Insurers Association currently, Principal Consultant Carefirst Consult, Gus Wiggle,  said : “It is indeed essential to recognise that Mr. Sunday Thomas, the Commissioner for Insurance, completed his term and was not renewed. Therefore, the term “removal” wouldn’t be accurate in this context.”

He said regarding the new administration’s agenda of renewed hope, deepening insurance penetration in Nigeria and the target of $1 trillion economy, a plan of the new administration led by President Bola Tinubu, it is just necessary to bring in a new team to achieve this goal.

“The appointment therefore of Mr. Omosehin and the two deputies should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following these trio in their different positions before now. These appointees hold promise for injecting fresh ideas into the insurance landscape, aligning with the administration’s goals. Let’s hope their collective efforts contribute positively to the industry’s growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

Former Managing, Director African Alliance Insurance, Mrs  Adebola Odukale, commended the leadership of Thomas in NAICOM saying: “Thomas leadership was quite remarkable with invaluable reforms especially in the space of technology.   Thomas was  a strong advocate of prompt claims payment and he never missed any opportunity for engagement  with the industry to emphasise it.  This , he would say is key to continous growth of the industry.

“Human capacity building  especially in the actuarial field was also core in his program.  Most of these were contained in the industry’s  10 year strategy plan  launched towards the end of 2023 by the commission.”

Speaking on the newly appointed Commissioner, Mr Segun Omosehin, the NIA boss said he was an astute and thoroughbred professional with vast experience accros the industry. 

Also the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers(NCRIB), Mr Tope Adaramola, said the exit of Thomas was  a completion of tenure not removal.  According to him, during  his tenure, the insurance industry had a good time.

“There was progress, amity, peace and tranquility which is prerequisite for progress quite unlike his predecessors,” he said.

The NCRIB boss noted that the immediate past insurance commissioner deployed social capital and emotional intelligence in handling issues that could have been tearing the industry.

“There was cohesion in the industry during his tenure. He tried a lot in the area of attracting government’s attention   to the extent that during his tenure,Federal Government  for the first time made a positive comment about the industry and that was  during the COVID-19 era. This is a plus to the industry,” he acknowledged. 

In terms of international relevance,  the NCRIB boss said under Thomas,  Africa Insurance Organisation (AIO) brought its  national assembly to Nigeria and a Nigerian equally became the president of the organisation.

In conclusion he said, “So his regime was purposeful and positive the present crop of leaders should emulate O.S Thomas.”

For Omosehin his successor, Adaramola said: “His successor is an astute practitioner with years of solid experience as life and general insurance practitioner he has thorough understanding of the industry.”

Thomas himself  highlighting his achievements, said NAICOM under his administration as the CEO has remained resilient and focused on implementing initiatives that would  foster development of the insurance sector and align its fortune  with that of the nation as Africa largest economy.

Reading his score card to Nigerians at the maiden 2023 National Insurance Conference organised by NAICOM in Abuja, Thomas said, “Your excellencies, permit me to briefly highlight the following flagship projects being implemented by the Commission as part of the its medium term NAICOM strategic plan 2021–2023: Ensuring improved safety and soundness of the Nigerian insurance sector to continue to de-risk economic activities of Nigerians through the enhancement of our prudential regulatory tools and good corporate governance practices. Migration of the commission’s supervisory regime to align with global best practices.

“This initiative has enhanced the commission’s distress management and market restructuring. Implementation of Project E-Regulation through operationalised  business process management solution and NAICOM Portal.  He said the solution  is currently being used to process applications from insurance institutions while the Portal remains the focal point for generation of unique policy identification numbers for all policies as well as repository for statistical data including verification of insurance policies issued in Nigeria. “

He further said his administration implemented  an actuarial capacity development programme for the Nigerian insurance industry which has helped to develop some certified actuarial analysts in Nigeria.

He also recalled that under his tenure the  commission as part of its support to government initiatives mobilised the insurance industry to contribute the sum of N500 million and free Life Insurance cover for front line workers in the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic .

In terms of its performance,  he said the industry’s  premium income between 2014 and 2022 grew at an average of 13.6 per cent from a premium income of N282 Billion to N726.2 Billion.

He added, “The total assets of the sector also grew at an average of 12 percent for the same period; from an asset base of N827.5 Billion in 2014 to N2.33 Trillion in 2022.”

Commendably, the insurance sector under Thomas achieved its trillion Naira market dream a goal the commission set for operators since 2009.

Operators had in the last quarter of 2023 hit an annual premium income of N1.003 trillion.

Also,  before his exit, Thomas mandated insurers to clear all outstanding claims in their books by placing advertisements in the dailies inviting all members of the public who have outstanding claims to visit the insurance firms involved with the necessary documents for payment of such claims.This, observers said, will go a long way to salvage the image of the industry.

Related Articles