Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. I warmly welcome you to Abeokuta, Ogun State (The Gateway State) this morning for the 1st Annual Insurers’ Committee Retreat.

One of the objectives of our gathering here today is to review our activities as an industry to determine the ways forward in addressing the challenges facing the sector. This retreat is therefore particularly focused at “Repositioning the insurance industry in Nigeria for self-actualization and growth”.

We are not ignorant of the huge potentials available for the industry to attain a lofty height within and outside the Nigerian economy. But these potentials will remain only in our imaginations if we cannot as an industry take advantage of them. So for today and tomorrow, our presentations and deliberations will be geared towards achieving the singular objective of developing a roadmap to optimally harness these potentials.

The idea of the Insurers’ Committee which we have borrowed from the Bankers Committee concept was to; as you would remember; create a platform for the highest echelon of the insurance industry – Top Management of NAICOM being the Regulator and the Chief Executives Officers of insurance companies to dialogue on issues, challenges and proffer solutions for the way forward for the development of the insurance sector in Nigeria.

The Committee affords us the opportunity to reach certain decisions on the spot without having to defer to a superior authority. It also creates the avenue that enables us to walk on the same path and speak with one voice towards developing advocacy and interventions for the reshaping of the insurance system to meet the expectations of stakeholders.

It is such opportunity that has enabled us to agree on the urgent need to re-brand the industry for our collective good. One would therefore expect that attendance at meetings and retreats of the Committee will be an imperative and not an option for all members. It is sad to note that this is not the case. Even when notices for meetings and this particular retreat were given well in advance, some CEOs still find reasons not to be in attendance preferring instead to send representatives who would neither have the voice nor the mandate to either accept or disagree with a decision but only to report back to the CEO a narrative of what might transpired.

This is unacceptable. Henceforth, the Commission shall not admit a representative of a CEO into any meeting or event called by it for CEOs only. You are either with us or absent against us. For the avoidance of doubts, let me remind you that the Commission is sufficiently busy in the office and could effectively regulate the industry from its offices without having to invite you to these interactions. We are here because we feel the need to involve the regulated in policy and initiative of the industry, but if it is becoming a burden or a nuisance to you, tell us and we would understand.

Be that as it may, this “Insurers’ Committee’s First Annual Retreat 2018” is intended to go down in history as the forum where the Nigerian insurance sector got its groove back. I am quite optimistic that at the end of discussions, we shall evolve a workable, achievable and of course, Practicable roadmap capable of elevating the status of the industry far above what currently prevails. As we settle into the business for which we have all placed priority over every other engagement, I implore us not to shy away from any issue.

I need not remind us that we are gathered here to redefine our collective future as an the industry. As an industry, we have come short in contributing our expected share to national development and other expectations like evolving financial inclusion to financial services deprived part of the Nigerian population.

I am pleased to see the number of Chief Executives in attendance today, as it demonstrates the level of importance we attach towards our continued and combined efforts to reposition the Nigerian Insurance Industry. This retreat will go a very long way in redefining the future of insurance and reposition it for self-actualization in terms of growth and development. I urge you to relax and make yourselves comfortable in the discussions to analyze and address issues hindering the growth of our sector.

In the last few years, the insurance industry has witnessed a series of changes owing to the new reforms embarked upon by NAICOM. These reforms include financial reporting reforms, No Premium No Cover, Corporate Governance Code, Risk Based Supervision, Information and Communication Technology advancement, Financial Inclusion, Claims Settlement, Market Conduct, Expansion of Distribution Channels, etc all aimed at building confidence, trust and enhancing our market value. It is pertinent to note that these changes are imperatives and have arguably had a considerable impact on efficiency, market structure and performance in the insurance industry.

Suffice it to say that these reforms will not stop but continue. We shall continue to introduce new reforms and initiatives in line with international best practices in our march towards achieving our full potentials. As we all already know, insurance in Nigeria has under-performed the banking sector and even the recently established pensions sector. For us as the industry regulator and supervisor, we have chosen to elevate the regulatory ladder. We cannot therefore over emphasize the paramount importance for us to fashion a development plan for the repositioning of the sector.

We believe that once we can successfully navigate this corner, we could be on our way to entrenching a financially solid, vibrant, viable and active insurance sector that would bring about not only an increase in penetration but the industry’s contribution to GDP, accumulation of long-term funds for infrastructural financing, job creation, and an improved standard of living.

It is long overdue that we make a change in the right direction. Successful economies are characterized by a strong investment culture of which the insurance industry plays a vital role. So we literally need to re-energize the insurance industry and commence playing our key role in boosting and growing our sector, and the Nigerian economy.

Suffice it to say that in all of these, capital is key. It is for this purpose that one of the key presentations for this programme is on “Enabling Soundness and Profitability of Insurers through Optimal Capitalisation”. I will not dwell on it but urge you to pay attention during the presentation.

We have also long identified the potentials inherent in embracing financial inclusion products in the growth of the industry. It is this realization that led the Commission into introducing financial inclusion products into the market a few years back. We are glad that Takaful and Microinsurance is now taking firm root in the industry. It is also noteworthy that insurance companies have started to make good attempts at shifting focus from corporate segment to retail segment of the market.

Notwithstanding this encouraging development in the retail end of the market, it is obvious that the industry needs to do much more in this area. To give us an insight as to what we should be doing as an industry in terms of financial inclusion products, we will be listening to a presentation on “National Financial Inclusion Strategy and the Agenda for Insurers.”

Mr. Joseph Attah from the Financial Inclusion Secretariat of the CBN will speak through this paper and I would request all of you to pay particular attention to the session on Index Based Agriculture Insurance “IBAI”. This we believe will is the new booster for insurance penetration.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely hope we all have a very passionate and interactive sessions to enable us address and possibly set out on a path that will actualize our collective intent to reposition the Insurance sector.

Thank you

Mohammed Kari
Commissioner for Insurance, Nigeria

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