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Buhari sets economic diversification targets for insurance firms

By Idowu Abdullahi

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Insurance firms in Nigeria to take advantage of ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to grow non-oil sector of the economy through innovation and other approaches in bridging the gap created by outbreak of coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s economy.

Commending their role in encouraging medical practitioners to tackle spread of COVID-19, the president noted that it was important the firms take the intervention a notch higher by buying into the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration in developing the country through economic diversification.

Speaking virtually at the opening ceremony of the 47th African Insurance Organization (AIO) Conference and Annual General Assembly in Abuja on Monday, Buhari said that the Insurance sector would play a vital role in the diversification of the economy by bringing “necessary stability, economic sustainability, revenue generation, job creation and financial inclusiveness.’’

According to him, there is a great future for the Insurance industry in Africa. We only need to put the right mechanism in place for it to thrive. I assure you that this administration has and will continue to support Insurance growth in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Buhari also commended the leadership of the AIO for the resilience, foresight and perseverance in ensuring that the African Insurance market strives to meet its expectations in the global market notwithstanding the prevailing challenges.

The president said that the theme of the conference, “Rebuilding Africa’s Economy: An Insurance Perspective”, was apt and well thought out to respond to the reality of the moment as many governments try to devise ingenious ways to manage their economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has indeed changed many perspectives that have forced leaders across the globe to think hard for remedies. I want to assure you that we in Nigeria are doing everything humanly possible to ensure coordinated approach to the pandemic and reaching out to other African leaders on possible best options to fully revive the African economy in which I strongly believe the Insurance industry has a vital role to play,’’ he added.

Buhari noted that the COVID-19 pandemic presented a global challenge which led to lockdown of many countries, travel restrictions, and issuance of many health protocols, affecting all human, social and economic interactions that made hosting of the Conference impossible in 2020.

“COVID-19 is still a serious challenge in many countries across the globe. However, adequate protocols have been put in place to curb its spread and vaccination is in progress. We understand as a government and nation the need to frontally tackle some of the disruptions to our social, economic and health occasioned by the pandemic by putting in place sufficient measures that allow the system to function.

“I once again use this opportunity to commend the Nigerian Insurance industry for identifying with the government through the provision of life insurance set of packages for frontline medical and paramedical personnel in the course of this fight. Your support and solidarity in these times are highly appreciated,’’ he added.

Buhari thanked the Organizing Committee for successfully putting the conference together, adding that the subtopics listed for discussions were germane and critical in helping Nigeria and Africa rebuild.

“We are aware that the AIO’s Conference and Annual General Meeting is rotated amongst member states in order to provide a forum for exchange of information and strategies on market development while promoting regional knowledge and integration.

“We received the news of the decision of the Executive Committee of the AIO granting Nigeria the hosting rights of this 47th edition of the AIO Conference with pleasure. As a country, we are confident in our ability to deliver the best conference ever in year 2020 before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic,’’ President Buhari affirmed.

In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said that the foresight of the founders of the AIO deserved commendation as it had fostered African integration agenda and how best to collectively address shortcomings.

The minister urged the Insurance sector to design their products around the needs of society, especially for low income earners, noting that greater impact on development would only be possible by looking at the African peculiarity.

On her part, the President of AIO, Delphine Traore, who is also the Chief Operations Officer, Alliance Africa, said that the conference was last held in Nigeria in year 2000, assuring that innovation in the sector would help in complementing government efforts in development.

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