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People lack knowledge about insurance and its importance —Babington-Ashaye

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Mrs. Funmilayo Babington-Ashaye who became 48th President and Chairman of Council of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, CIIN, in this interview vowed to  confront the lack of  awareness which is the greatest challenge facing the profession and the industry.

By Rosemary Onuoha

As the new president of CIIN, what are you bringing to the table?
The theme of my tenure as the 48th President of the Institute is, ‘Insurance: Imperative for Education and Enlightenment.’
The choice of this theme was informed by the need to confront lack of general awareness which is the greatest challenge facing our profession and the Industry. People lack knowledge about insurance and its importance in all human endeavours including business undertakings.
This manifests in poor patronage of insurance products by the public and the unwillingness to choose insurance as a course of study by the youths. As an Institute, we must continue to take deliberate steps to address these issues with a view to repositioning the profession in the psyche of the people.

Achievable programmes

We must build on the past efforts of our predecessors and the awareness drive of other stakeholders in the industry. Accordingly my tenure will make insurance awareness and enlightenment a common issue to be driven by all stakeholders in their various domains.
The only way to educate the Nigeria public is through enlightenment which is best achieved when every practitioner is made an ambassador of the Industry. I have in preparation for my tenure engaged some of my professional colleagues to transform my thoughts into achievable programmes.
The potential of this approach will be achieved during my tenure through the following programmes which will be the main thrust of my presidency. Regular advocacy; professional development; enhanced insurance awareness; continued efforts on institute’s buildings, as well as reorganisation of the secretariat.

What new initiatives do you intend to introduce?
I will take up regular advocacy and press releases on the role of insurance in the security of lives, property and wealth creation. We intend to drive public awareness of insurance and help to rebuild the public confidence and trust through the activities of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria. In terms of professional development, there will be modification of the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) programmes to create more opportunities for all practitioners to attain regular attendance. Publication of an insurance e-Newsletter on regular basis to disseminate information on emerging development in the industry as a strategy for renewing the technical and professional knowledge of our members. International collaborations with similar professional bodies would be rejuvenated in order to offer the Institute and its members the opportunities to interface on global standards. The College of Insurance and Financial Management would be challenged to organise more relevant programmes in collaboration with other stakeholders in the industry, to provide qualitative education and training for persons engaged in the practice of insurance, provide consultancy services and undertake research.

Some past presidents have taken insurance awareness to schools; do you intend to continue the trend?
I will sustain distribution of insurance textbooks to secondary schools, tertiary institutions, states and national libraries. There would be engagement of secondary school students, undergraduates and new graduates through career fairs. I will ensure provision of the required assistance for the accreditation of at least two insurance departments in tertiary institutions to promote the study of insurance. These would be achieved with the support of all stakeholders, particularly National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), insurance companies and individual members. Companies would be approached to adopt schools across the nation to which books would be distributed. It is believed that much would be achieved with the participation of insurance companies and individuals.
Concerted efforts were made by the last three past Presidents to resuscitate the development of the Institute’s building on Victoria Island. Their effort represents our determination to complete the project. My knowledge of their endeavours makes it imperative for me to applaud them and give the firm assurance that I will continue from where they stopped.

Strategic action plan

The 2015 KPMG Report on the strategic action plan to reposition the Institute for relevance would be further implemented. The lofty ideas to grow the Institute and improve the relevance of the insurance industry would be best achieved when the Institute’s workforce is well equipped and motivated. My presidency would mould the Institute’s workforce to deliver on the key initiative of my action plan.

How has your journey into the insurance world been like?
My journey into the world of Insurance, unlike most of my colleagues was not by accident. I attended Lagos State College of Science and Technology now known as Lagos State Polytechnic where I emerged as the best graduating Higher National Diploma Student in the Insurance Department in 1987. I completed the Associateship examination of the Chartered Insurance Institute United Kingdom and became a Chartered insurance practitioner in 1988. My career in the insurance industry started in 1987 when late Ikidero employed me at Royal Exchange Assurance Plc. I had the wonderful opportunity of working with notable insurance professionals who guided my path to becoming a well-grounded insurance practitioner. I moved to Cornerstone Insurance Plc as a pioneer staff in 1991 on the invitation of Late Tunji Ogunkanmi and rose to the position of Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer. I had a brief stint at Nicon Insurance Plc when I was appointed an interim Managing Director by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Today, I am the promoter and Managing Director of Risk Analyst, an Insurance Broking firm.

When did you join the institute?
I joined the Institute in 1992 when I was elected an Associate and was elevated a Fellow in 2004. I have been a member of the Institute for 25 years and have been actively involved in many of its activities serving on several committees such as audit and general purposes committee, activities committee, strategy advisory committee, education committee, chairman organizing committee of the inaugural insurance industry mega conference, and presently the Chairman, Board of the College of Insurance and Financial Studies.

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