From Ngozi Onyeakus, Lagos
Following plans to meet its financial inclusion target, the Federal Gvernment has restated the desire to capture over 36.6 million Nigerian adults, representing 36.8 per cent of the working population through the micro segment of insurance and pension sectors.
The figure includes self-employed Nigerians that are yet to officially embrace any form of financial services product.
Speaking at the 4th National Insurance and Pension Correspondents (NAIPCO) National Conference in Lagos state on Thursday, stakeholders in both sectors said majority of Nigerians in the informal sector were yet to be aware of the numerous benefits in embracing financial services products.
To ensure that every Nigerian have access to financial services, they said the Federal Government came up with micro insurance and micro pension products to penetrate the grassroots and also get to those not currently registered in the Contributory Pension Scheme [CPS] nor covered by any form of insurance.
To achieve the agenda, the Acting Director General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the commission planned extending pension coverage to 30 million contributors by 2024, thereby ensuring that 40 per cent adult Nigerians are covered under the CPS.
Dahir-Umar, who was represented by the Head, Benefit Administration Unit, PenCom, Babatunde Philips, said President Mohammadu Buhari, in March, 2019, launched the micro pension scheme to provide the informal sector with a veritable means of securing old age income.
She said implementation of the Micro Prnsion Plan (MPP) would yield positive results for Nigerians and the pension industry, adding that it would assist greatly in reduction of old age poverty in the country.
According to her, “the commission has put in place requisite infrastructure to facilitate seamless implementation of MPP. The Enhanced Contribution Registration System (ECRS) has been deployed to facilitate seamless operations of the MPP. This system has so far aided the smooth registration of micro pension contributors.”
She also applauded the media for consistent support, saying it had assisted the commission in recording modest achievements in educating and enlightening the public on the workings of the CPS and the commission’s activities.
Speaking in the same vein, the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) had been doing a lot in terms of financial inclusion in he past eight years.
The acting commissioner, who was represented by the Director, Governance Enforcement and Compliance, Leo Aka, said it required collective efforts to ensure that Nigerians in the informal sector embrace financial services.
Looking at the demographic of Nigeria, Thomas said one would notice that unemployment rate in Nigeria was quiet high, adding that this was a signal that the industry needs to move fast to capture the people in the informal sector.
He said the insurance commission had issued some guidelines to ensure that those not in the formal sector embrace financial services.
Thomas added that while establishing the micro insurance guidelines, the commission ensured that the micro insurance products are very simple, easy to understand, affordable, valuable in that it should be able to address needs and remain efficient.
He also disclosed that two companies had so far been approved to underwrite micro insurance products, two others at the final stage of review while about seven companies are under review.
To ensure that the micro insurance meets its objective, Thomas said the commission carried out appraisal from time to time to ensure that micro insurance products that have been designed for the people actually meet their purpose.
The Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), launched in 2012 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is meant to improve access to financial services and products by Nigerian adult population.
The strategy aims at achieving a 34 per cent increased access to financial services and products by the year 2020, which means attaining 70 per cent iclusion rate.