NIGERIAN banker, entrepreneur and investor Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede has said that the country’s insurance and asset management sectors are too small to trigger prosperity and growth.
Aig-Imoukhuede, who spoke at a virtual press conference monitored by The ICIR ahead of the launch of his book entitled ‘Leaving the Tarmac: Buying a Bank, a Memoir by Aig-Imoukhuede,’ noted that the two sectors were bigger than the banking sector in other countries, lamenting that it was not the same in Africa’s biggest economy where banks were much bigger than other financial services industries.
“Nigerian banks are big enough right now, but insurance and asset management sectors are not big enough,” he said.
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“The largest financial intermediaries in any economy are not the banks, they are insurance and asset management companies where your future and legacy are preserved.”
Total assets of all Nigerian banks were estimated at N42.2 trillion as of the end of February 2020, according to a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Rafindadi Sanusi.
On the other hand, the value of Nigerian insurance industry’s assets was put at N1.8 trillion in June 2020 by the CBN.
Insurance firms in Nigeria say that citizens are not comfortable with insuring their lives and property, with many reluctant to pay for such services.
Aig-Imoukhuede was appointed in 2012 by the government of Goodluck Jonathan to look into the subsidy scam in Nigeria.
At the press conference on Wednesday, he said he was shocked to discover that people claimed subsidies on products they never imported.
He noted that multiple billions in subsidy claims were reduced to a very lower level immediately he was appointed, wondering whether fuel imports suddenly reduced one year after his appointment.
Aig-Imoukhuede and current chief executive of Access Bank Herbert Wigwe both founded the bank, which is now one of the biggest Tier-1 banks in the country.
According to Aig-Imoukhuede, building a bank, like building a nation, required sacrifices.
“Nigerian banking sector is one of the top five stories in the world today,” he said.
“There is a long way to go, but given the talents and opportunities in African market, the Nigerian banking sector can emerge as a global superpower,” he said.
He recalled that the 1999-2007 era, which was a period of renaissance, propelled the sector to a great height.
Like the title of his book, the investor said Nigeria had been left on the tarmac by other countries because the country could not manage its resources and talents.
He lamented that even with human and natural resources in the country, the standard of living was still low, saying that he was willing to work with policymakers to ensure the country was not left on the tarmac.
He said corruption went beyond bribes and economic leakages as it often reduced human beings to lower animals, stating that Nigeria would be a failed nation if there were no efforts to stop corruption.
“Ability to live your dream is being hampered and constrained in Nigeria because of faulty foundation.
This is why our youths spend so much time trying to fix the faulty foundation, which is not supposed to be their responsibility. ”
He stressed the need to build Nigeria’s primary healthcare system and fix health infrastructure, warning that the country could have crisis in the future without doing that.
Aig-Imoukhuede is the former chief executive officer of Access Bank. The autobiography captures his life experiences and career journey.