* L-R: Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke; Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Public Accounts, Friday Iwok; & Chairman of Anchor Insurance Company, Elijah Akpan
Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Friday Iwok, has expressed his committee’s satisfaction with the level of operations ongoing in Anchor Insurance, the indigenous company where the Akwa Ibom State Government owns about 60 percent shares.
Mr Iwok however said that his committee considers in strong terms that the state government should give assistance to the company to enable it make more dividends in the future.
Iwok made this known during an interactive session his committee had with the management team of the company at the assembly complex in Uyo, on Tuesday.
During his presentation, the Acting Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Jeremiah, who noted that the minimum paid up capital of the company had been raised to over N3 billion, said that it has consistently declared profit and paid dividends to its shareholders in the last six years.
Jeremiah listed some of the major challenges faced by the 29-year-old company to include lack of corporate headquarters in Lagos, weak competitive capacity and low capital base, adding the renovation of Anchor House at Aka Road, construction of five storey office complex at Wellington Bassey Way, acquisition of land at Banking Layout for future development, all in Uyo, and ongoing project in Calabar as its major projects.
In his remark, Mr. Iwok pointed out that If Akwa Ibom State has a company such as Anchor Insurance, then there was need to have some level of patronage from the government who owns about 60 percent shares of the company.
Iwok said, “If they collect dividends, they should play back in making sure that Anchor Insurance survives”.
“If we have works that will be given out in the state, at least some percentage should also be insured.
“People should also be insured with Anchor Insurance to make sure we have more dividends to pay shareholders and even the government”.
While he made reference to the former Co-operative and Mercantile banks owned by the state government, but which have closed down several years ago, Iwok charged the company to strategize in its business dealings in order to remain afloat in the insurance industry, as “a lot of people, including our sons and daughters working there, will be affected if the company is closed down”.
Both parties agreed to synergize further by holding another meeting where other stakeholders of government like the commissioners of finance, special duties, Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, as well as those in the internal revenue service will attend in order explore more ways forward.
While fielding questions from journalists shortly after the meeting, the Chairman of Anchor Insurance, Mr. Elijah Akpan, said the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) earlier came up with N10 million as the minimum capital base for every insurance company operating in the country.
“Anchor does not have up to that amount. And so we’re looking to recapitalize to grow our capital base to about N10 billion, that way we can take more lucrative businesses like the oil or power companies”, he said.
The company’s record shows that Anchor Insurance was incorporated in June 1989 and licensed in October 1989 as as a General Business (Non-life) insurance company, with the Akwa Ibom State Government holding 100 percent of its equity at the time.
In 1992,the company added life/pension class of insurance to make it attain the status of composite insurance company, while the state government divested a substantial part of its equity to a new set of private investors in 2003.
A new management team was engaged in 2008, following a successful recapitalisation, to reposition the company as a national player in the industry in line with international best practices.
The company’s management said Anchor Insurance has made tremendous growth in written premium income and profitability in the last ten years, while its branch network has increased from four to 23 with spread in the major geopolitical zones of Nigeria.