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Expert Tasks Insurance, Pension Operators On Products That Meet People’s Needs

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COO PenOp, Aguda Oguche (left); Director, Corporate Communications, PenCom, Peter Aghahowa; Mrs Folashade Onanuga, former DG Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Feyisayo Soyewo, Chairman/CEO, Prestige Insurance Brokers (the Chairman of the occasion), Representative of the Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas.
By Sola Alabadan
Former Director General of Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Mrs. Folashade Onanuga, has charged insurance and pension operators on creativity and innovation in their products development and service delivery by focusing on meeting the needs of the people for enhanced financial capacity.
Mrs. Onanuga made this call while delivering the theme paper of the 2021 national conference of the National Association of Insurance and Pension Correspondents (NAIPCO) titled “COVID-19 Impact On Financial Inclusion: Opportunities For Insurance & Pension Sectors” in Lagos today.
She also enjoined the operators to leverage the opportunities thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic to grow the sectors and contribute to the National economy.
While affirming that the pandemic has caused severe disruptions, she pointed out that opportunities have also been created to grow customer base on account of the obvious fact that there is no real social security arrangement by government in the event of sudden and unexpected events and so citizens need to make plans by themselves for wellness both in business and family life.
According to her, “Economic shocks like sudden loss of job, illness or death can send people living just above the poverty line into abject poverty.  So whether one is in the formal or informal sector, there is the need to have a safety net.  The sudden and unforeseen calamities created by the pandemic has highlighted the need to plan for unforeseen circumstances and even early retirement.
To take advantage of these opportunities, she said, the pensions and insurance industries must remain committed to the inclusive growth of the Nigerian economy, creating opportunities for lower income groups to be part of the broader financial system.
She noted that, “Financial inclusion is achieved when adult Nigerians have access to affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial inclusion can only be achieved when financial transaction processes and documentations are transparent, simplified and seen as meeting needs of the people and at the same time being beneficial to the financial services sector.”
“Speaking of insurance, opportunities exist to increase insurance penetration and the customer base, both in the retail and corporate segments of the market if the right moves are made. Insurance penetration has remained at an average of 0.4% of GDP driven largely by a general lack of understanding and awareness of the benefits of insurance products, specifically amongst low-income Nigerians.  We need to build trust. The Banking Sector has managed to bridge this gap to an extent.
“Attempts have been made to improve the performance of the insurance industry through regulation and legislation – new capitalization requirements have been announced and reviews of several key laws are being discussed to bring them up to current realities,” Mrs Onanuga added.
In improving access to insurance and making products and services more inclusive, we are discovering that there is a role for all stakeholders to play.
For pension sector, according to the former LASPEC boss, “inclusive growth in pensions must recognize the peculiarity of the population segment being addressed, adding that This recognition must have an impact on how products are designed and how lower income segments of the population interact with pension funds. If you consider what happens in developed economies, there are different kinds of plans to meet different needs.”
For the trust gap to be bridged, Mrs. Onanuga called on the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to take more advantage of digitization in pension operations to make transactions easier and more accessible by taking example of what the banks have done to provide banking services to lower-income population groups by ensuring that structures are put in place before the release of pension laws to ensure that all aspects of the law are implementable.

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NLC Protests Poor State Of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway

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The Ogun chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Wednesday, blocked the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway over the bad state of the road.

According to NAN, the Lagos chapter of the union also joined the protest.

The protesters carried placards with inscriptions like “We don’t want palliatives”, “We want good roads”, “Dapo Abiodun save our souls from bad roads” and “We are not slaves in our country”.

Emmanuel Bankole, the NLC chairman in Ogun, said the union was not happy with the condition of portions of the Lagos-Abeokuta road and its environs.

“We will not allow anybody to take away our right. In times like this, we do not have any option other than to express our displeasure with the government,” he said.

The chairman said the 21 days ultimatum given by the NLC to Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, after his visit to Sango-Ota, had lapsed.

Bankole said Fashola had promised to commence palliative work on the road but nothing much had been done since then.

“We deserve better than what we have seen today. What we see today is below our expectations,” he said.

Funmi Sessi, chairman of the Lagos chapter, said the protest was “long overdue”.

“We believe in action and the time for talking is gone. There is an urgent need to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses,” she said.

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Nigerian Press Council Seeks Law To Regulate, License Journalists

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The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) has pleaded with the house of representatives to enact laws to empower the council licence journalists.

Francis Nwosu, executive secretary of NPC, made the demand on Wednesday when he appeared before the house of representatives committee on information, national orientation, ethics and values.

Nwosu said this will also enable the council to generate revenue for the federal government and curb unprofessionalism in the industry.

“We appreciate the effort of this committee to help have a good footing in the Nigerian media space. As you can understand, there is no way we can earn any revenue except we have an act to regulate the media industry,” he said.

“Aside from the rooting implementation of credible media space in Nigeria to help the government to check fake news and disinformation in the society, we are also trying for our players to understand the need to draw a line between journalism practice and journalism business.

He said newspapers need to register as corporate organisations and pay royalties to enable the NPC make money.

“Journalists [need] to register with the council, have a licence to operate. That way, we can have some funds to the coffers of the council,” he said.

“These are the ideas we are thinking can help instead of depending entirely on the federal government for revenue. We can generate some amount every year from the registration of journalists and the registration of media houses.

“By this way also, we are also talking about supervising journalism training institutions and ensure that the right things are done in the institutions of learning so that we have well-trained journalists with good professional skills to do the right job for the best interest of the nation.”

Olusegun Odebunmi, chairman of the committee, said it is important for the journalism practice to be monitored.

“As regards the pure regulation of the journalists, no doubt about it,” he said.

Odebunmi said the committee is working on such regulation, adding that this will identify the players in the industry.

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FG lists Diezani’s Bras As Part Of Forfeited Items For Sale

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The federal government has listed personal effects like bras and waist trainers as part of the list of assets forfeited by Diezani Alison-Madueke, former petroleum minister.

Diezani had fled the county shortly before former President Goodluck Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

She is alleged to have stolen $2.5 billion from the Nigerian government while she was minister — an allegation she has denied.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has since commenced a process to extradite her.

The federal government has gained forfeiture of Diezani’s properties located in Banana Island Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, including 18 flats and six penthouses.

Other properties listed include 125 wedding gowns, 13 small gowns, 41 waist trainers, 73 hard flowers, 11 suits, 11 invisible bras, 73 veils, 30 braziers, two standing fans, 17 magic skirts, six blankets, one table blanket and 64 pairs of shoes.

The federal government has begun the process of screening 613 independent valuers expected to manage the sale of the assets permanently forfeited.

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