Alhaji Bala Zakariya’u, former CEO and chairman of Niger Insurance Plc, is an insurance professional whose achievements motivated old and young professionals who believe that initiative, effort, and persistence are key determinants of success at demanding tasks. In this interview with Favour Nnabugwu Zakariya’u talks about issues in the sector. Excerpts
ELDERS in the insurance industry have stayed too long behind the scene, Sir, what have you been doing after your step down from Niger Insurance?
I am thankful to you for counting me among the elders of the industry, it is a very distinguish company worthy of keeping. As to why elders stay behind the scene I can only speculate on the answer, it should be to allow the younger professionals in the industry to manage the affairs of industry space, without undue interference by the elders.
Personally, after retiring as a Chief Executive officer and later as chairman of the Board, I have committed myself to following trends in the world of technology, for example my recent interest is of the evolution of block-chain technology which I believe like the internet before it, is also a general-purpose technology which is on the verge to influence the way people the world over will be conducting their lives.
Alhaji Bala Zakariya’u
Block-chain will also define in the nearest future the fundamental concept of business record keeping and data sharing also will inevitably create for use, new models for wealth creation.
So am busy with both formal and self-education in the areas of following trends in the vast and exciting field of digital technology. It is a very illuminating and fulfilling way to retire.
What is your take on the state of the nation’s insurance industry, are you satisfied with the way the sector is now?
Is very easy for you as a journalist who is writing history in a hurry, to miss some important things happening in the industry and which are building blocks for better things for the future of the industry. Let me give you examples, we have witnessed recently improvements in the regulatory environment and because of that the poor perception of the industry is changing. Insurance companies are better managed today than they were just few years ago. Also technology is improving service delivery across board.
Of course, the need for improvement cannot be over emphasised. The insurance buying public of today, I will stress, is more sophisticated and insurance practitioners must take note and reflect that in their service offerings. It is also important to note that as democracy gives everyone the chance to express his or her own views managers of enterprises including insurers must put in place governance structures to accommodate this important reality.
So generally, I am very happy with the progress we have made as a nation also as insurers but we all need to put in more efforts while aspiring for an even better future for our dear country.
What is your advice to the present and upcoming chief executives?
My one advice will be for companies to continue to modernise and adapt to the big changes happening all around them. Disruption caused by technological advances is happening everywhere and there is no industry that is insulated and as chief executives, they have the additional task of creating and protecting values for the owners of their companies, also being compliant with all the requirements of the regulator.
Are you satisfied with NAICOM’s risk-based capitalization?
Risk based capitalisation is becoming a universal application and is working well in other jurisdictions. I believe its application here will make it easy for the regulator to identify with certainty every company’s capacity to accept risks into their books. Anything that will simplify how the industry is governed will certainly help to improve the system. I also have seen determination on the part of the regulator to modernise the affairs of the industry and applying the risk based capital is a useful tool to use to meet that lofty objective.