The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme has said that the directorate is working on how it will enroll pensioners on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Ejikeme dropped the hint while speaking in Lokoja at the North-East zone verification exercise of parastatals pensioners under the defined benefit scheme.
She said that the directorate has commenced the process and was convinced that pensioners would be enjoying the benefit very soon. “We are taking into consideration the fact that as pensioners get older in age, they usually face health challenges and enrolling them on the scheme will help in reducing their suffering.”
She also warned the pensioners to beware of ongoing scam where fraudsters will call them and promise them help in resolving their pension issues and asking for payments in advance to do it.
The Executive Secretary said no such help existed outside the staff of the directorate who wills “under no circumstance asks anyone for money before rendering any service “she said.
Dr. Ejikeme said that the aim of the verification exercise was to have every one of its pensioners on the database of the directorate for easy identification and prompt payment and also to ensure that only eligible pensioners are being paid.
“We are working hard to make sure that no one is overpaid or underpaid, we hope to make this exercise the last as the database will assist us in the task of ensuring that no unintended beneficiary is on our payroll” she added.
Insurance shareholders want June 2020 recapitalization deadline extended
Shareholders of some Insurance companies want the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to review its recapitalization directive issued to the insurers, saying that the June 2020 deadline did not seem feasible. They made the submission while speaking with Newsmen in Lagos.
Mr. Shehu Mikail, the National President, Constance Shareholders, Association of Nigeria, explained that there was a need for an extension of the June 2020 deadline by NAICOM, as it did not seem feasible due to the present economic challenges.
Mikail said that once the economy improved, the directive could be implemented by the end of 2020. He said that while the initiative was laudable, there could be problems with implementation, as the present time frame and procedure could affect the growth of the insurance companies.
“Personally, I think it is good to have the recapitalization to enable us to have stronger insurance companies. But because the economy is not friendly at this period, most of the insurance companies would face this problem, as nobody is ready to invest their money,” he said.
Reacting to the option of merger or acquisition by the insurance companies, Mikail noted that the interest of the board of the insurers would determine the possibility of such partnership.
He said that mergers or acquisitions were good options in order to solidify the system, but were dependent on the terms, conditions and interest of the parties going into such arrangements. Mikail advised the insurance associations to intervene and liaise with the regulatory commission to consider an extension of the deadline.
“As a shareholder, I cannot take up any high risk to invest more money in the sector because the system is not conducive; it is better I maintain my status quo which I am still earning to have a backup for future purpose,” he said.
Also, the National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, complained that the time frame issued for the recapitalization was short. Okezie expressed disappointment that the regulator did not consider public opinion and complaints of the shareholders before taking the decision.
“For us, it is a fire brigade approach that the regulators (NAICOM) are adopting in the market, which is not helping the industry,” he said. Okezie, however, said it was good enough that the insurance companies had braced up to the challenge and were putting up plans to ensure that the deadline was met.
“Many of them are either approaching shareholders to plan for the recapitalization by increasing investment or their paid-up capital so that they could bring in core investors.
‘‘We are looking at money in bulk, and as it is now, the insurance cannot come as a way of Initial Public Offering (IPO) or Prospective Liability because nobody will buy among the existing shareholders, because it is a herculean task.
$500m invested in African maritime platforms in 3years-Afreximbank
The African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) has said its intervention in the maritime sector in the last three years include more than $500million facilities for the Onne Port expansion in the Onne FTZs in Nigeria, Gabon, Cote D’ivoire, vessel finance for security patrol of offshore platforms.
Its President, Prof. Benedict Oramah, a paper titled: Awakening the Blue Giant: Catalyzing the Growth of Nigeria’s Maritime Economy through Public Relations at the 19th NECCI PR Roundtable in Lagos.
Oramah said Afreximbank has continued to push the limits in Africa to promote intra and extra African trade. “Total assets as at June 2019 closed at $15.4billion, gross income of $498million, net income of $137million, CAR (Capital Adequacy Ratio) at 23 per cent, NPL (non-Performing Loan) at three per cent, CIR (Cost Income Ratio) at 17.4 per cent and shareholders’ funds of $2.7billion,’’ he said.
On the importance of blue economy, Prof Oramah said: “The Blue Economy, also referred to as the ocean or maritime economy, is a concept which leverages the strength of the maritime ecosystem including fishing; shipping and maritime transport; coastal tourism; marine energy (fossil and renewable); pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, genetic resources and general sea-based products for economic growth and development.
“Africa’s seas and oceans represent major assets with the potential to accelerate the development of African economies. Indeed, according to the African Union (AU).
He said 90 per cent of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted through the sea, adding that AU has recognized the importance of the blue economy and has included it in its Agenda 2063, which is a blueprint for development of the continent for the next few decades.
On why the country must take the maritime sector seriously, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said despite efforts channeled to diversify the economy, the results are yet to be visible as oil still contributed over 70 per cent of foreign exchange (forex).
“For a very long time, there is a perception that the most profitable sector in the country is oil and gas sector but evidence have shown that it’s not sustainable to depend on mono economy so there has been agenda to diversify economy.
“The government has explored different option, such as solid minerals, ICT, agriculture, but we seem not to have made a lot of progress. Till date, oil and gas still contribute 70 per cent to our foreign exchange earnings,” Peterside said.
Peterside pointed out although the maritime sector is capital intensive, it can play a key role in the diversification agenda. “We need to look into capacity building. Half of officers working on vessels around the world are Chinese. Korea is an economy that depends on ship building.
“Africa with its endowment has move from exporter of fish resources to importer because we pay no attention and didn’t make enough investment. Japan, Korea and China are the leading nation in area of underwater mining while Africa which is the most endowed region in the world are not benefitting.
“Nigeria major challenges are perception and reputation. Outside Nigeria, they believe our system is not effective and sustainable for investment and this is because most stories about Nigeria are negative, while the ones about European countries are positive stories. It’s time we begin to change the narrative and project our country in such a way that it will attract investors.”