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NIA Rises Against Employees’ Compensation Bill

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The Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) has raised its opposition against the Employee Compensation Bill. The bill which is currently awaiting the attention of the National Assembly is seen by insurers as inimical to the smooth running and growth of the insurance industry. Raising its opposition, NIA opined that it was not proper to replace the Workmen’s Compensation Act 2004 with the Employee Compensation Scheme to be managed by the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, (NSITF). The insurers’ umbrella body recently wrote a strongly worded memorandum to the Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, stressing that the NSTIF is incapable of managing the scheme. The memo which was signed by Mr. Wole Oshin, chairman of the association, who stated that the trust fund has been incapable before now in managing the deductions from workers salaries occasioned by the volume of unpaid benefits to retirees
According to the NIA, the Workmen’s Compensation Act 2004 was statutorily required to provide benefits for work-related diseases such as injuries, accidents and death, in the course of duty.  It argued that the duty of performing this role the private sector had rested under the insurance companies for decades. It further stressed that the insurance companies have been playing this role well in accordance with the Act. The body stated that since the insurers have been performing this role well, it would be improper and a negation of the spirit of federal government reform program to take the responsibility away from it and entrust it to NSITF, a public institution which already has enough challenges to handle. According to NIA, "Nigerians are aware of how public institutions vested with monopolistic powers and duties have fared. We are not sure that Nigerians want to go through that experience again". The insurers’ body reiterated that the responsibility to handle the management of risks of accident, disease and death, and paying benefits to victims falls within the jurisdiction of insurance. It stressed further that since the insurers have been doing it, there was no gain taking it away from it especially as the NSITF does not have the prerequisites to manage it such as the right training, knowledge and expertise to manage risks emanating from these tasks.  The insurers’ body emphasized that "under the present Workmen’s Compensation Act the liability for Workmen’s Compensation is on the Employers, and they are expected to insure the liability with insurance companies who must provide the money for payment of compensation whenever the need arises". Earlier, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the regulatory body of the insurance industry had raised its objection to the move to transfer workmen’s compensation to the NSITF. With the latest move by the association, industry watchers are waiting to see which direction the pendulum would swing.
Veteran Applauds NAICOM over Claims’ Disputes Resolution
Alade Olafinmiyan, veteran insurance broker, has praised the oversight r of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), stressing that its promptness in rising to industry challenges has helped in curtailing the excesses of some insurance companies. He explained that apart from the intervention of the commission in addressing past challenges, the recent ones aimed at finding lasting solutions to disputes arising from claims is commendable. He recalled that in recent times, NAICOM has intervened in the redressing complaints arising from over 170 cases. HE stated that “the intervention led to settling claims’ dispute amounting to N182.321million. To have achieved this only within the first quarter of 2010 is an indication that the regulator is up to growing challenges facing the industry.”  According to spokesperson of the commission, Mr. Lucky Fiakpa he explained in a statement recently that most of the settled complaints were concluded  in January while the other cases which were spill- over from last year were also concluded within the time under reference.
Apparently excited at the way the Commission handled his claim issue, an assistant director with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) wrote to the Commission recently to express his feelings when he said he respectfully thank the commission “for the prompt action that compelled the insurance company to settle my claims after 987 days. It paid the sum of N338, 895.60 inclusive of the accrued interests for the period it held the money", he disclosed. Corroborating, a Loss adjuster also commended NAICOM when he wrote that to confirm that they have received the insurer’s cheque for the amount involved in full and final settlement of their indebtedness to their organization, while expressing deep appreciation to the commission for its prompt intervention and immediate conclusion of their case. Olafinmiyan emphasized that when a body is performing creditably, the achievement cannot be hidden from industry watchers who expect high ethical standard from public institutions.  He recalled the NAICOM’s recent breakdown of settled disputes concerning claims involved a total of 142 cases which were received by it between January and March 2010 while 72 of the correspondences were fresh complaints. It would be recalled that the commission’s image maker had stated its recent statement that, Properfunds Limited lodged a complaint before the commission that five insurance institutions issued their guarantee bonds in various sums of money in their favour and when there was a default, the insurance companies refused to settle the claims with incidental interests. He explained that rising from these complaints, the commission also resolved the case between Crusader General Insurance Limited and the complainant which brought about a cheque payment of N389.021.78 which had since been issued to the complainant as full and final settlement. Also as an attestation, Mr. Fola Daniel, commissioner for insurance, had expressed concern over the issue of non-payment of claims by few operators in the market which over the years has given the industry a bad name. The commissioner gave stern warning to operator that cheques must be paid out within 90 days after due process had been followed, adding that the commission would not hesitate to cancel the licence of any defaulty operator. The veteran advised the operators to cooperate with the leadership of NAICOM to ensure that its regulatory duties are performed creditably.

 


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AfDB Appoints Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho as Director of Statistics Department

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African Development Bank has appointed Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, an economist and statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department, effective June 16, 2024.

Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho

Dr Omotosho, a Nigerian national, has more than 21 years experience in developing data strategies to align with the strategic objectives of organisations. He also brings expertise in data compilation, data analytics, macroeconomic research, and policy analysis.

Omotosho previously served as Director of Research and Statistics at the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) in Sierra Leone, where he was seconded from the Central Bank of Nigeria. At WAMA, he provided advice on monetary and economic integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Prior to that he held various positions within the Statistics and Research Departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

As an Assistant Director in the Statistics Department, he led the data analytics team and managed the Central Bank’s strategic initiatives on big data and data analytics. He oversaw projects aimed at enhancing data analytics capabilities for policymaking, automating surveys and statistical systems, improving data sharing infrastructure and developing social media listening tools. His leadership fostered a culture of data analytics within the Central Bank, driving innovation and efficiency in operational and policy processes.

Dr Omotosho holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom (2021); a master’s degree in Applied Statistics and Datamining from the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (2011); a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Benin, Nigeria (2008); and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (2000).

He has contributed extensively to academic literature, with publications in reputable journals, including the Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, Journal of International Money & Finance, Macroeconomic & Finance in Emerging Market Economies, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Journal of Applied Statistics. His research covers big data, econometrics, monetary and fiscal policy interactions, business cycle drivers, and the macroeconomic implications of resource shocks for small open, emerging economies.

Omotosho is a member of the Nigerian Statistical Association, the International Association for Official Statistics, and the Royal Statistical Society.

Commenting on his appointment, he said, “I am grateful to President Adesina for this appointment, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the African Development Bank Group, an institution that plays such a pivotal role in the economic and social development of our beloved continent, Africa. I am fully committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position while collaborating effectively with the Bank’s senior leadership team, colleagues, and other strategic partners.”

Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, commented: “I am pleased to appoint Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, a respected statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department. Dr Omotosho brings to this role an impressive track record in statistics, economics, and data analytics. He will support the Bank in building a robust data ecosystem to achieve our strategic objectives and sustain our long-term development goals.”


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ATII Awards Scholarship to Students

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A knowledge transfer and technology innovation hub, African Technology and Innovation Institutes (ATII) has awarded scholarships to ten pupils from Bridge International Academy, Lagos.

Through its Junior Scholars Program in partnership with Lumina Educational and Empowerment Foundation (Lumina), the scholarship will meet the educational needs of the benefitting pupils through their primary education, which is extendable to their university education.

The Junior Scholars Program is an offshoot of  ATII’s  Innovation, Leaders, Fellowship and Scholars Program that aims to empower and cater to the welfare of students aged 3-12 years from underprivileged and low-income communities by partnering with other organisations to provide scholarships for these rough diamonds.

In addition to the scholarship, ATII also provides STEM-based back-to-school kits and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) materials to spark their desire for education and to contribute to their communities in STEM-related fields.

In her congratulatory message, the Founder of ATII,  Prof. Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua represented by Mr Sunday Awolowo, ATII’s Programs Manager, praised the students for their “outstanding academic excellence” and their “resolve to continue to improve in their academic pursuits, especially in the STEM fields.”

“We hope that the scholarships will continue to encourage you to do great work to pursue STEM. We hope one day in the future you all will be inspired to be an Engineer, a technologist, a mathematician or scientist,” Prof. Ekeng-Itua said.

The ATII Junior Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

Mrs Ezinne Tochie-Asogwa, Manager of Academics at Bridge International Academy, expressed her appreciation to ATII for the generous gesture.

“On behalf of the management and staff of Bridge International Academy, we appreciate the kind gesture of ATII.

ATII is passionate about the next generation of leaders and individuals who will change the world, pursuing its mission to promote African and Indigenous Technologies, while supporting human capital development in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The ATII scholarships will provide financial assistance to the students as they continue their education in STEM fields. The program will also provide mentorship and support from ATII professionals.

 


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CBN, FintechNGR Chart the Way Forward to Enhance Nigeria’s Fintech Ecosystem

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In light of recent developments aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s fintech sector, Ade Bajomo, President of FintechNGR, led a team from the Association’s Governing Council in an engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to chart the way forward.

Receiving the team at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, Philip Ikeazor, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, commended FintechNGR’s active advocacy efforts that have significantly improved the fintech ecosystem.

The Central Bank emphasized the need for the Association to work closely with stakeholders to operate within regulatory provisions, facilitate compliance, and establish robust risk management frameworks and governance structures.

Mr. Ikeazor stated, “The Central Bank understands the critical roles of fintechs in driving financial inclusion to the last mile. Our efforts are geared towards helping fintechs become more attractive to investors and achieve greater success.”

During the meeting, Ade Bajomo noted that while stakeholders strive to comply with regulatory requirements, they sometimes face challenges beyond their control.

“The common understanding within our ecosystem is that compliance makes the environment safer for all to innovate, scale, and collaborate. FintechNGR will ensure the co-creation of a support structure with the CBN to enhance compliance.”

Some of the initiatives the regulators plan to pursue with the ecosystem include making the 2024 Nigeria Fintech Week more impactful, enriching the activities of the Regulators Forum, organizing fintech learning series for various stakeholders, and exploring self-regulation status for FintechNGR to foster closer relationships with regulators.

FintechNGR remains committed to working with all regulators to better position the ecosystem to be more inclusive and impactful.

 


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