BPE chief: NICON Insurance among few bad cases of privatisation

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the renewal of the appointment of Mr. Alexander Ayoola Okoh as the Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for a second term of four years in accordance with the provision of Section 17 (1)(a) and (2)(a) of the Public Enterprise (Privatization & Commercialization) Act, 1999.

The Director General (DG) of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh, has lamented the decay at the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON Insurance), describing it as one of the few bad cases of privatisation in the country.

He regretted that the organisation, which was a going concern before privatisation in 2005, was grossly mismanaged, and appealed to the management and staff to collaborate and cooperate with the new board on its rescue mission, to bring it to operational vibrancy and solid pedestal.

The new board of NICON Insurance formally took over the affairs of the enterprise with its maiden board meeting at the corporation’s head office in Abuja on July 26, 2021 amidst tight security.

The new board members had arrived the company’s premises as early as 7:30am but could not gain access to the boardroom as it was under lock and key while the only functional elevator in the building was shut down.

It was not until some of the management workers sauntered around the premises 8am that the elevator was eventually switched on and the boardroom was opened and cleaned up for the meeting.

Speaking at the meeting, Okoh, who is also a board member, lamented the decay in the organisation, noting that it was one of the few bad cases of privatisation in the country.

Addressing a handful of NICON’s management staff, led by the Deputy General Manager (DGM), Corporate Advocacy, Mr. Kunle Adewale, the interim Board Chairman, Alhaji Lamis Dikko, who led other board members, called for cooperation to reposition the insurance company which he described as a national legacy.

He said the meeting was a follow-up to the last one by the board where far-reaching decisions, including the immediate termination of the appointments of the erstwhile managing director and executive directors of the insurance company were taken.

A statement issued by the Head, Public Communications, BPE, Amina Tukur Othman, quoted Dikko as saying that the mandate of the new board is to preserve NICON Insurance as a going concern until a new investor comes on board as the previous owner had woefully failed to sustain and maintain the organisation.

He assured all employees that are desirous of staying back and work for the good of the organisation that they have nothing to fear but to support the new board to turn around the fortunes of the company.

Also speaking, the interim Managing Director, Mr. John Abuh Oyidiih, charged the workers to cooperate with the board and management to reclaim the lost glory of the insurance company, which he described as “an institution and can’t be allowed to go down”.

He added that they needed not to hold an allegiance to any individual but the institution.

NICON Insurance was privatised in 2005 with the core investor having 70 per cent shares, with the federal government retaining 30 per cent.

The federal government’s shares were later diluted but the fortunes of the company continued to decline with most of the assets used as collateral to collect loans from banks.

This prompted the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over the affairs of the company, a decision the core investor challenged in court.

The court ruled in favour of AMCON but the investor went on an appeal which the court asked the parties to maintain the status quo leading to Monday’s takeover by the new board.

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