The President, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Mr. Emmanuel Kayode Okunoren, in this interview with Favour Nnabugwu speaks on the allegation of fraud against brokers by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, among other issues. Excerpts:
LATELY, Nigerian insurance brokers, as a body, has been bedeviled by allegations of fraud and all that. What are you doing to sanitize the insurance brokering sector?
You see, this information is just coming out and of course we are trying to identify the source, the parties concerned, and all that. If you remember, we were talking about brokers who are unlicensed to practice. It may shock you to know that we have not yet identified all of them. It is quite impossible to do so, because, we have some brokers that are not even members of NCRIB, and some of them are the ones actually doing a lot of government businesses.
Ethics of the profession
You said fraud in your question, but I cannot say categorically whether they are fraudulent or not until the culprits are identified, brought to book, named and shamed as deterrent to others in order to ensure that they don’t tow the same path.
Sometimes, it is a result of desperation but we always advocate that brokers should do their businesses in very professional ways according to the ethics of the profession.
To that effect, we have a help desk which we created when I resumed office as President. That is one of the things we have done, and it is through such avenue that we are able to encourage members to do things the way they should be done, and if they adhere to these things, obviously, it would assist in ensuring that fraudulent practices are nipped in the bud.
What has NCRIB done as a body of brokers concerning the allegations of fraud against its members?
Hon. Adekunle Akinlade is also a member of the House committee on Insurance. So, if we discuss with him we would indirectly reach the source. But earlier, there was an attempt I made before this one that I’m telling you we hope to initiate. I actually visited him today in his office, and told him that I’ll have to find time for us to sit down and discuss; because when we do, some of these issues will come to the fore; that way, we can get more information, and adopt a strategy for addressing the problem.
Hopefully, at such a meeting, he will invite Akinlade and whomsoever he’ll like to be in attendance. I don’t want to have meetings separately with different people. On my part, I would go with my people in Abuja here who are members of the executive council. So, it is not the President of NCRIB alone that’ll go for the meeting.
Like I said earlier, such a meeting will provide us opportunity to find information; that is, get the facts about the matter which is still very fluid at the moment, because a lot of times all these names are just being thrown around without any real substance to them. There was one name that was mentioned and the company wrote that he has nothing do go with them; so you cannot take all you see on the pages of the papers as gospel.
We have to get to the root of the problem. We have our disciplinary procedures. If our members are involved, I mean those who are really members of NCRIB, we have procedures or machinery of office to deal with them. So we will take it a step at a time.
Who should coordinate brokers on government business?
You see it is a straight forward relationship between a broker, a client and the underwriter. The NCRIB is not in the scheme of things. The contract effectively is between the customer and the insurer but intermediated through the broker. So it is the customer that has the right and responsibility to appoint whoever they want. It is a collaborative thing and we cannot go beyond that point.
The only thing we carry-out is to sensitize them through the various visitations that we do. We let them realize that they must utilize the services of brokers who are registered by the council and also licensed by NIACOM.
We also stress to them that through the instrumentation of committees that deal with discipline and stuff like that, they would be able to have a reference point as to where to make reports. And, this is where we stand because once we get those information, we can bring to book; brokers who default in terms of the services they are supposed to render to customers.