The fortune of the insurance industry is threatened if the long awaited Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 slips presidential assent.   NGOZI ONYEAKUSI reports

The exclusion of the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 from the list of 15 bills passed this week to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, less than two weeks to the end of his administration means that, there is no hope the Insurance Bill will see the light of the day in this dispensation.

If this is so, it will be quite unfortunate that despite all efforts put into coming up with the bill, by the various arms and industry stakeholders, will just go down the drain.

Although, this may not be new, judging from the fact that same happened to the Revised Insurance Bill in 2014 under the regime of the ex-President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan.

However, the implication of non-passage into law, is grave because the sector will need to embark on another fresh process with the new set of lawmakers making the 10th National Assembly members.

And as it stands, it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel of this bill, unless miracle, which sometimes happens, happened.

Although, insurance operators had high hopes that the bill would definitely be signed into law against all odds, events in the last few days may have dashed that hope.

This is because the industry operators and stakeholders who were hopeful that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will sign the long expected bill into law before leaving office, had come to realise that it is now mission impossible, less than 12 days to the inauguration of a new administration.

This has remained a source of concern for experts who strongly believed the bill, if signed into law, will better the lot of insurance industry well and position it for growth.

Although, the industry has, in recent time, shown resilience in business expansion and growth, looking at the end of fourth quarter 2022, there are more that can be done with the bill becoming an Act.

 The industry, for the recorded, reported significant improvement in key indices including gross premium, claims payment,  assets, improved market regulation, awareness and consumer confidence.4th quarter, 2022.

According to National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) fourth quarter report, insurance industry recorded a gross premium to tune of N726.2 billion, representing a growth of 36.3 percent over the same  quarter of the preceeding year, while it paid claims worth N318.2billion in the same period representing a 31.2 per cent growth.

Though the sector was able to record these milestones,  it is still plagued  by a lot of challenges  which experts said could be addressed if the Insurance Act 2003 is repealed.

Insurance Act 2003: Need For Amendment

The 20 year old Insurance Act 2003 deserves amendment.  To market observers, it is true that there is no perfect law in the world but the Act which is not only long overdue, need  to be amended so as to align with current realities not only in the country but also in the international market.

The call for review of Insurance Act  can be dated back to 2008 following economic recession which significantly presented among others, the need for amendment.

Interestingly, within the period the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance set up a Prof.Joe Irukwu led committee to review all insurance laws and as well  pursue amendment of stale laws that is the 2008 Insurance Bill. Unfortunately this bill did not see the light of the day.

Similarly, in 2016, Kemi Adeosun, then Minister for Finance inaugurated an insurance review committee chaired by Dr Omogbai Omo-Ebo, which was saddled with the responsibility of reviewing all insurance existing laws, market problems and making  recommendations that will form basis for the amendment draft for Insurance Bill 2018. This bill yet, was not signed into law.

Unarguably, the  Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020, which has remained source of hope for the  industry, is still trading the same part of earlier ones. History has repeated itself again. Thus, for the past 20 years, the regulatory law of the risk bearing industry has not been successfully reviewed nor amended. No doubt, so much time, energy and resources were put into the review exercise done for the aborted 2008, 2016, 2018 and now 2020 bills. For stakeholders, this does not augur well for the industry, judging from the fact that the sister industry- pension sector- has successfully reviewed its 2004 Pension Reforms Act  in 2014 and it’s preparing for another review that may be done this year or in 2024.

The problem is the bureaucracy in government.

Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020: Issues To Address

The bill seeks to address many of the industry headwinds by rectifying shortcomings of the Insurance Act 2003. One of the improvements would be in the area of recapitalisation. The bill has settled the definition of capital in the insurance domain, building on the framework in the Finance Act 2021, ending the incongruity between operators and regulators in the sector, which previously led to the cancellation of several proposed recapitalisation attempts by the regulator.

It’s worthy of note  that last recapitalisation in the industry took place in 2007, subsequent attempts to carry out recapitalisation  had proved abortive.

The bill will also introduce harsher penalties for fake insurance certificate perpetrators, improving public trust and reintroducing the risk-based supervision capital model to align the industry with international best practices.

Insurance industry Effort

The immediate past Chairman of Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA),  Mr Ganiyu Musa, had disclosed last year that insurers were closely monitoring developments on the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 and will continue to pursue same doggedly until it is finally passed into law.

NIA, he said, has participated in all the processes thus far and will continue to monitor developments in respect of the bill as it receives legislative attention, adding that, the bill, if passed into law, is expected that to have a positive impact on the insurance space in Nigeria and align it with global best practice.

“We must acknowledge the cooperation received from the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chairman and members of the House Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and other stakeholders in the journey thus far.

“We remain cautiously optimistic that the Bill will be signed into law before the tenure of the 9th National Assembly lapses.”

Benefits of The Bill

Experts in the industry are excited that provisions of the Bill in consideration when finally passed will have positive impact on the country’s insurance space, strengthen the weaknesses of the Insurance Act 2003 and align with global best practices.

“It is expected that the new law will have a positive impact on the insurance space in Nigeria and align it with global best practice.

“We must acknowledge the cooperation received from the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chairman and members of the House Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and other stakeholders in the journey thus far”,  said NIA chairman, Mr. Segun Omosehin when he assumed office.

According to the president of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria(CIIN), Edwin Igbiti,  the Insurance Bill translation to an Act, would be the best legacy President Muhammadu Buhari administration would bequeath the insurance industry.

He implored all insurance practitioners to come together and push for the signing of the bill in law.

Implication of Exclusion Of The Bill

Exclusion of Consolidated Insurance Bill from the other bills passed for presidential assent means that the industry will wait a while before the next administration sign it, that is if it gets to the table of incoming President. This delay may give room for weak capitalisation of the industry, unabated weaknesses of the moribund insurance Act 2003.  At the international level,  the risk bearing industry may not be able to play a leading role. Thus, the urgent need to strengthen the laws of the industry which the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020 would have done if signed into law at such a time as this.

Decrying  the exclusion of consolidated insurance bill amongst the 15 bills passed to President Muhammadu Buhari for an assent before leaving office, Chairman of Session, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) Year 2023 Fellows’ Event, Dan Okehi, called on Fellows in the insurance industry to arise to their responsibilities as it is their obligations to collaborate with National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) in ensuring that the bill becomes an Act.

Okehi stated that Fellows should note that the burden of growth and development of the sector rest on their shoulders as the industry’s policy makers.

On his part, a past President, CIIN, Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi, said: “there is supposed to be a synergy between the regulatory body and operators in the industry. The industry doesn’t have much visibility in the public space. This means we are not in government contemplation. The way we operate the industry has not given us visibility. It should be our priority.”

Coroborating, the Hon Lanre Laoshe, an insurance professional and former member of Houses of Representatives, explained that, with the  exclusion of the bill among the 15 passed to the President for assent, it means to start the process again from the beginning when NASS resume on June 4th, 2023. “If they really want to change their law, let them work or why didn’t the bill go far? Some may not want the bill to get there”, he said.

Also, Managing Director,  Peninscope  Professional Warranty  Limited, Mr Taiye Adediji pointed out that such omission will hinder development in the industry, cut the time frame that would enable the players acclimatise with the new law if signed into law now, in terms of developing consciousness about it as delaying it has put the players on suspense.

Simlarly, managing director,  Risk Sift Consultant Limited  Mrs Janet Omoniyi, said. the  industry cannot act on it until the president signed it into law. She said: “It means we will continue to use the obsolete law. The industry will have to wait till a  new set of NASS comes onboard, brings it up and work on it, then send it to the President. Something must have gone wrong along the line. May be it still needs to be fine tuned.”

Also, the vice president, Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria (ARIAN) Mr Jegede Kehinde , regretted that, not signing the bill will hinder insurance penetration  which is yet to reach 0.5%. According to him, a bill acceptable to all players will promote sense of belonging among insurers and bring about healthy competitions.

“It means NAICOM needs to be empowered.  There are a lot of innovations it wants to bring about in the industry.”

As well, the President,  Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr Moses Igbrude opined that, “when we visited NAICOM last week,  the Commissioner for lnsurance,  Mr Sunday Thomas,  promised the Commission has done some work to enhance insurance industry. If the industry bill didnot get the assent of present administration,  the question is – ls it that the bill is not ready. If yes, why is it not ready?. It means there will be delay. The bill will start all over again. Its supposed effect will be postponed. It means it will further delay the enhancement of the industry.”

 Way Forward 

Speaking on way forward, Ladipo-Ajayi said, all contending issues should be looked into. On behalf of the industry,  he stressed that, there must be someone monitoring the movement of the bill. At every stage, somebody must be on ground, he noted.

Similarly, Laoshe noted that, the industry should go back to the drawing board and find out why the bill didn’t go far.

In the same vein, Adediji stated that, “there is need to find out  the reason why  the bill has not got to the President table for his assent. Is it human error or the content of the law? Was it a mistake  – intentional or sabotage?  Is there another opportunity for the bill to get to President Buhari before he leaves office? These are some of the things industry regulator and operator’s should find out. Even though the president has few days left, as long as he is still in the office,  there is still hope if all necessary things are timely done.”

Omoniyi as wrell suggested  that there is need for the industry to agree together on how to move the industry forward.


Stakeholders believe it would be unfortunate If by May 29, the President Buhari did not give assent to the bill. The industry, they said, might have to start the process all over again.

While market observers expect insurance operators to look inward on the need to have representatives at the National Assembly, they urged them to think seriously about the importance of being proactive.

It would be recalled that it was when Hon Lanre Laoshe was a member of the House of Representatives that the lnsurance Act 2003 was signed into law. They said, there is need for strategic lobbying and resistance against bureaucracy in government.

It is hoped that when the incoming National Assembly kicks off, lnsurance bill will receive speedy attention so that it will be among the first set of bills to be signed into law by the incoming administration to enable the industry begin to tap into the opportunities provided by the new law.