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Business News

Meet the people in the engine rooms of top companies on the NSE

The role of the secretary in corporate governance is critical as they are to ensure that good corporate practises are adopted and maintained.

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Meet the people in the engine rooms of top companies on the NSE

The history of corporate governance is often traced to series of business scams and failures in the corporate world, which led to the collapse of companies. Committees were formed to guide companies, and gradually they evolved into what is now called a board of directors.

The board tries to create a balance between economic and social goals, while cashing in on opportunities, without endangering the company’s assets. All of this is done under the guidance of the Company Secretary, who also serves as Board Secretary.

The role of the secretary in corporate governance is critical as they are to ensure that good corporate practises are adopted and maintained. Unarguably, no company can function without an efficient secretary. Little wonder a new secretary is always appointed immediately one leaves the position.

Let’s have a quick take on the men and women who form the engine rooms of some top companies trading in the NSE.

Sunday Ekwochi (Access Bank Plc)

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Ekwochi graduated as one of the top law students from the University of Jos and by 1998, he was done with the Nigerian Law School. For the last two decades, he has garnered varied experiences from top firms like the African Express Bank, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank Plc.

He is an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, and also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Association of Banks Legal Advisers and Company Secretaries.

Ekwochi attended the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, London in 2003 where he qualified as a Chartered Secretary. He has also attended several management development programmes at London Business School, Euromoney, Wharton Business School and IMD.

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He is currently Company Secretary of Access Bank Plc, a position he has held since March 2010. He played a critical role in documenting and managing the intricacies of several buy-outs over the years, the most recent of which is the just concluded merger of Access Bank with Diamond Bank Plc.

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Meet the people in the engine rooms of top companies on the NSE

Temitope Hassan (Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc)

Temitope Hassan is a multi-disciplined lawyer with a law degree from the London South Bank University, United Kingdom, in Insurance degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka, and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

She was appointed Company Secretary of Dangote Sugar in January 2020, with almost 2 decades of experience. She worked as Company Secretary and Legal Adviser at UBA Pensions Custodian Ltd, and before that, was the Head of the Company Secretariat of Skye Bank Plc.

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Courtesy of valuable skills and expertise gained from previous experiences, Hassan is seasoned in legal drafting, dispute resolution, and corporate strategies.

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She has attended several courses on regulatory compliance, corporate services, corporate governance advisory, investor relations and is a certified trainer and an accredited mentor of the National Mentoring Pilot Project UK. She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria.

READ MORE: NSE publishes guidance to facilitate effective virtual meetings for stakeholders amidst Covid-19 

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Oluseye Kosoko (FBN Holdings)

Kosoko joined the FBN Group in 2017 to replace the outgoing Company secretary.

Before this, he was the Company Secretary and Head, Legal with Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited.

His 30 years’ experience cuts through Banking and Finance, Telecommunications, Law teaching and practice and Taxation planning and advisory. He worked with Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited (Now Airtel Networks), Henley Crankshaw Solicitors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Nigeria International Bank Limited (Citibank Nigeria).

Seye had started his career with a stint at the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University where he was pioneer lecturer, before he practiced with Professor A.B. Kasunmu’s Chambers.

He has law degrees from the former University of Ife now known as Obafemi Awolowo University, and the University of Lagos, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985. He is an Advisory Board Member of the General Counsel Summit, Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Member of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Besides being a legal counsel, Seye has extensive experience as a business executive and corporate governance advisory.

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Bili Odum (UBA)

Odum is group company secretary of UBA, and has occupied this office since march 2010. Before then he served as the company secretary and legal adviser at the Kakawa discount house limited for 2 years,  and worked with the BGL limited as General Counsel.

since the late twentieth century, his experience has cut across strategic corporate positions in the financial services sector including Asset Management, Structured Finance, Legal Advisory and Corporate Governance. He has also proven himself in Human Resource Management, Administration, Knowledge Management, and Business Communication.

Bili Odum has his law degree from Edo State University, Ekpoma, and was enrolled as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1990. He is also a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the International Bar Association and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom).

READ MORE: Surviving the looming recession in the Nigerian tech space

Madibinet Cisse (Ecobank Transnational Inc)

Cisse is the Company Secretary of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI). He also has multidisciplinary degrees, with a Masters degree in law from Harvard Law School, a Masters degree in Banking and Finance from the Paris Descartes Universite in Paris, a Masters in Business Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law from the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in Paris.

With his versatile background, he is qualified to practise English and French law, and the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa. He is also an Attorney and Counsellor at Law at the New York Bar of Attorneys.

He was an associate in the Finance departments of two Paris law firms – Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Gide Loyrette- Nouel, and also an associate in the Legal and Tax department of Ernst & Young in Conakry, Guinea.

He joined Ecobank in January 2017 from the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was Senior Vice President and Lead Counsel.

Meet the people in the engine rooms of top companies on the NSE

Mahmud Kazaure (Dangote Cement Plc)

Kazaure was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987, though he now has the license to practise in Nigeria, and the states of Maryland and New York in the USA; he can also appear before the Supreme Court of the United States.

His experience also covers contractual and legislative drafting, having obtained a Master of Comparative Jurisprudence Degree from Howard University School of Law, Washington DC in 1994.

He joined Dangote Cement as Company Lawyer in 2011, bringing with him his vast experience in commercial law, civil litigation and international business.

READ MORE: Transcorp Group CEO, Owen Omogiafo unveils new strategic vision for Nigeria’s largest listed conglomerate at company’s AGM

Erhi Obebeduo (GTBank)

Erhi Obebeduo was appointed Company secretary with Guaranty Trust Bank in 2017, after serving as the Head, Legal group and Assistant Company Secretary for over a decade.

Obebeduo has garnered about 20 years experience since he was called to bar; most of which have been in commercial banking which is his core specialisation.

He obtained his Master’s Degree in International Commercial Law, from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and his first law degree from the University of Benin.

He is a ICMC Chartered Mediator and Conciliator and also belongs to several professional bodies.

 

Ahmed Aliyu (BUA Group)

Aliyu is Chief Legal Officer/Company Secretary of BUA Group.

He joined the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria PLC which merged with Obu cement earlier this year to become BUA group. Before then he had worked with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria where he rose to the position of Zonal Manager of various states.

He has about two decades experience, and is seasoned through and through in Litigation & Arbitration, Legal Drafting, Company Law, Capital Markets, Corporate Governance, Management and International Business.

He obtained his law degrees from Ahmadu Bello University, before attending the Nigerian Law School and later on, the prestigious Harvard Law School (Executive Education).

Aliyu is a member of several professional bodies including the International Bar Association, London, Nigerian Bar Association, and the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

READ ALSO: Facebook to pay $550 million over privacy violations lawsuit 

Somuyiwa Sonubi (Union Bank of Nigeria Plc)

Sonubi is one of the few Company Secretaries who know their firms like the back of their hands. He has spent over 2 decades in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, starting in 1997 as Legal Manager.

He was elevated to Company Secretary in 2010, after holding the position of Deputy Company Secretary for 5 years.

He got his law degrees from Obafemi Awolowo University, and the University of Lagos, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988.

 

Ayotola Jagun, (Oando Plc.)

Ayotola Jagun joined Oando Plc as Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary, after leaving Capital G Limited, a financial services Group based in Bermuda, where she worked as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary.

Her work experience spans two decades working on corporate and commercial law, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and civil litigation.

She started her legal career with Chief Rotimi Williams Chambers, and has also worked with frontline companies like Akzo Nobel Plc and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the United Kingdom, Sara Lee UK Holdings Limited, as well as Citi Group in Bermuda where she was Senior Corporate, Risk & Control Manager.

She obtained her first law degree from the University of Central England in 1989, and her LLM at Sidney Sussex College, University Of Cambridge in 1990. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1992 and in 2004, went ahead to bag an M.Sc.in Corporate Governance & Ethics from the Birkbeck College, University of London.

Ayotola is a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales and an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

READ ALSO: NSE launches Growth Board to attract SMEs with growth potentials

Abidemi Ademola (Unilever Nigeria Plc)

Ademola has law degrees from the Obafemi Awolowo University and the Lagos State University.

She joined Unilever Nigeria Plc in 2012 as Secretary and General Counsel and was later Director, Legal and Secretary before moving on to become Company Secretary in 2020.

Bidemi has spent most of her 2-decade career as a Corporate Counsel and Chartered Secretary, partnering the Unilever business to manage legal and regulatory risks and delivering innovative legal solutions to legal, compliance & governance issues.

Abidemi is a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Nigeria, and the Society of Corporate Governance.

 

Uto Ukpanah (MTN Nigeria Communications Plc)

Uto Ukpanah became Company Secretary of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc in July 2005.
Her specialty covers corporate governance and telecommunications, issues of ethics and financial services.

She is a Fellow and Member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria. She is a Certified Ethics Officer from the Ethics Institute, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and has been actively involved in developing various corporate governance and ethics related codes, given her extensive global experience. She sits on the boards of several organisations including educational institutions and not-for-profit organisations.

She is a member of Steering Committee on National Code of Corporate Governance in Nigeria, as well as the Committee of the Code and Corporate Governance for the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, and Secretary of Bankers Committee Sub-Committee on Corporate Governance.

In the early years of her career, she worked with United Bank for Africa Plc.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrator of Nigeria (ICSAN)

 

Edith Onwuchekwa (Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc)

Mrs. Edith Onwuchekwa assumed the position of Company Secretary/Chief Governance and Compliance Officer of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc in June 2019.

Before this, she was Legal and Compliance Director at Lafarge Africa Plc. She also worked as Company Secretary and Head of Legal at Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, Head of Public affairs, and Legal Counsel, Sub-saharan Africa.

She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from University of Uyo, Barrister at Law from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja, as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

She became a Chartered Secretary when she finished with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators UK, in 2009.

Godwin Samuel, (UAC Nigeria)

Godwin became Company Secretary and Legal Adviser with UAC Nigeria in 2006, and has spent over 2 decades with the UAC group, since 1997 when he joined as Manager, Legal Services.

He worked with the UACN Property Development Company PLC (‘UPDC’) and its subsidiaries UPDC Hotels Ltd and Manor Gardens Property Development Company Ltd., the Allied Products PLC (“CAP PLC”), GM Nigeria Ltd, Opticom Leasing Company Ltd, UAC Foods Limited and other UAC subsidiaries. He is also a Non-Executive Director of Livestock Feeds PLC, a subsidiary of UAC of Nigeria PLC.

For almost three decades, he has garnered experience from the academia and field practice of his profession, giving him a versatile mix that is unique to him – law teacher, legal practitioner, corporate counsel, and corporate governance guru.

The overall best graduating Law student of the 1990 Law class of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Godwin went ahead to obtain other degrees.

He is an alumnus of Haggai Institute Leadership programme, Singapore (2005), Developing General Management Potential programme of Cranfield University, United Kingdom (2005) and is a member of different professional groups.

He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association and its Section on Business Law, International Bar Association, Nigerian Institute of Management, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria, and several others.

 

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Coronavirus

Cost of Ivermectin soars after research suggest 75% chance of cutting Covid-19 deaths

Ivermectin prices have risen after Research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team shows drug can reduce Covid-19 deaths

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As Azuka laid down in bed feverish, he had resigned to his fate believing he was not going to make it to the next day.

Just 3 days into the new year and all the fun he had, attending weddings and burial ceremonies in the east all seemed like a big mistake. He must have caught covid-19 at one of those events, he thought.

Since attending the last event, he fell sick and has been exhibiting the symptoms of Covid-19 and just waiting to die until someone recommended Ivermectin, a little known drug as a potential medicine that could help save his life.

READ: Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

A few days later he recovered and spread the news to friends and family – he believes Ivermectin cured him.

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The rush to purchase Ivermectin in Lagos has increased of late after stories similar to that of Azuka (not his real name) spread. As Nigeria’s caseloads rise past 120k cases, some Nigerians are increasingly worried about contracting Covid-19, rushing to pharmacies to purchase a drug that they all believe is the most portent to fight Covid-19.

READ: Hepatitis C drugs may be effective against COVID-19, virus may spread through high-rise buildings

What is Ivermectin?

According to the World Health Organisation, Ivermectin was originally produced in the 1980s as a veterinary drug used largely for nematode control in cattle, horses, pigs, and dogs and became the standard for control of the ectoparasitic disease, scabies. It soon became the world’s most profitable veterinary drug.

Since then, Ivermectin has been used on humans for controlling strongyloidiasis, a human pathogenic parasitic roundworm causing the disease strongyloidiasis. According to medical sources, it is also known in the US as threadworm, UK, and Australia as pinworms.

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In Nigeria, it has been used to treat worms, according to a pharmacist who spoke to Nairametrics.

READ: Nigeria, others to receive first-ever HIV generic drug for babies in the first half of 2021

“Originally it’s a worm expeller (Antihelminthic) used in the elimination of parasitic worms from the body. They use it in combination with doxycycline. They also use Vitamin C in combination with Axrthromycin.”

However, more recently, the drug is now being used for the treatment of Covid-19 pushing demands for the drug high across pharmacies in Lagos. A Nairametrics survey suggests the drug cost as high as N100,000.

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Another pharmacist who craved anonymity explains.

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“It was one of the available free drugs dispensed to patients at clinics in Nigeria – for eliminating different types of worms from the body. People usually don’t buy it from pharmacies because of the low price, thinking it’s not good quality tabled for expelling worms. It was not expensive and almost cost next to nothing, but now it sells for as high as N200 per tablet”

At N200 per tablet, a pack of 500 tablets could go for as high as N100,000. From all indications, the prices are unstable and could be purchased from as little as N20,000 per pack of 500 tablets to as high as N100,000. It all depends on demand and supply and who is under pressure to get a “cure”.

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READ: COVID-19: WHO warns against Gilead’s remdesivir drug approved by US FDA

Is the drug credible?

Several social media posts and videos allude to the efficacy of the drug in “preventing and curing” Covid-19 but this is yet to be certified by the WHO.

The drug however came into the limelight after a Financial Times article claimed the drug had a chance of cutting covid-19 deaths by up to 75%.

The article was based on research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team led by the University of Liverpool lecturer Andrew Hill. A Nigerian Olufemi Emmanual Babalola, from Bingham University/Lagos University, Nigeria is also part of the group.

READ: WHO study reveals new discovery about remdesivir drug’s effect on Covid-19 patients

Here is an excerpt of the result of the research conducted by the group

“Ivermectin was associated with reduced inflammatory markers (C-Reactive Protein, d-dimer, and ferritin) and faster viral clearance by PCR. Viral clearance was treatment dose- and duration-dependent. Ivermectin showed significantly shorter duration of hospitalization compared to control. In six RCTs of moderate or severe infection, there was a 75% reduction in mortality (Relative Risk=0.25 [95%CI 0.12- 0.52]; p=0.0002); 14/650 (2.1%) deaths on ivermectin; 57/597 (9.5%) deaths in controls) with favorable clinical recovery and reduced hospitalization. “

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Currently, the only other drug with the same level of worldwide unofficial approval for treatment of Covid-19 is Remdesivir, after it also showed an effect on improving recovery rate for Covid-19 patients.

READ: US Mission recognises Nigerian doctor who helped develop COVID-19 vaccine

The choice between waiting for a vaccine or self-medication

More recently, the search for cures for Covid-19 has been overshadowed by vaccine breakthroughs across the world. For most governments, preventing covid-19 is better than curing it which is why more effort is geared towards vaccine distributions and other preventive measures such as insisting on facemasks and introducing new lockdowns.

But for developing economies like Nigeria, where self-medication is prevalent, drugs like Ivermectin are easier to purchase over the counter as well as administer. Just like the demand for chloroquine, zinc, and vitamin C soared in the first wave of Covid-19, demand for Ivermectin is rising along with its price.

Fortunately, Ivermectin is backed by research even though the researchers expressed caution as more trials need to be conducted.

READ: Nigeria records 1,964 new cases of Covid-19, highest daily surge

“Despite the encouraging trend this existing data base demonstrates, it is not yet a sufficiently robust evidence base to justify the use or regulatory approval of ivermectin. However, the current paucity of high-quality evidence only highlights the clear need for additional, higher-quality and larger-scale clinical trials, warranted to investigate the use of ivermectin further.

“The maximum effective dose of ivermectin needs to be clarified and new clinical trials should use a consistent multi-day dosing regime, with at least 0.4mg/kg/day. The appropriate dose and schedule of ivermectin still requires evaluation and the current randomized clinical trials of ivermectin need to be continued until ready for rigorous review by regulatory agencies.” International Ivermectin Project Team 

Asides Ivermectin, Nigerians have also resorted to traditional medicine such as a beverage of lemongrass, dogonyaro leaves, garlic, ginger, and bitter kola to prevent and cure Covid-19, despite orthodox vaccines proven to be effective.

Perhaps it is because no one is sure when the vaccine will get to Nigeria after it was initially meant to arrive in January and since pushed to February 2021. And even if it does arrive in Nigeria, most people do not believe it will get to ordinary Nigerians on time especially when they cite the way the Covid-19 palliatives was handled.

For now, the need for self-reliance is driving people towards any drug they believe can cure covid-19.

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Obituaries

Veteran talk-show host, Larry King dies at 87

Legendary longtime CNN talk show host, Larry King is dead.

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Larry King, the multiple award-winning TV and radio host has died at the age of 87.

King who had a long-running show on CNN, Larry King Live was a household name for his many interviews with political leaders, celebrities and newsmakers.

King’s death was announced on his official Twitter handle stating that he passed on Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA.

The statement read in part:

“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”

The statement did not however, reveal the cause of death, but sources say King was hospitalised for COVID-19 in early January.

Since the news broke, friends, colleagues and admirers have taken to different social networks to express their sadness and condole with the family of the celebrated broadcaster.

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What you should know about Larry King

  • King rose to fame in the 1970s with his radio programme The Larry King Show, on the commercial network Mutual Broadcasting System.
  • He hosted the Larry King Live on CNN for 25 years, between 1985 and 2010, carrying out more than 30,000 interviews, including every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.
  • King also wrote a column for the USA Today newspaper for over 20 years.
  • After leaving CNN, King hosted another programme, Larry King Now, broadcast on Hulu and RT, Russia’s state-controlled international broadcaster.

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Financial Services

Niger Insurance Plc gets shareholders nod to restructure business

Niger Insurance Plc has announced plans to restructure its insurance business into distinct but mutually dependent business entities.

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Edwin Igbiti

Niger Insurance Plc has obtained shareholders’ approval to restructure its insurance business into general, life and business insurance, with each segment to be structured as a separate legal entity.

This is part of the resolutions passed at the 50th Annual General Meeting of Niger Insurance Plc., held on 20th of January, 2021 at Peninsula Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.

The decision to restructure the company is in a bid to make it more efficient and profitable to stakeholders, especially as efforts are geared towards overturning a loss of about 1,1723.2% Year-on-Year, earlier made by the company in its last reported financial statement, Q2, 2020, as reported by Nairametrics.

Other key decisions reached at the 50th AGM include;

  • The re-appointment of Mr Ebi Enaholo and Mrs. Olufemi Owopetu as Directors of the company.
  • Acceptance of the presented financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the report of the audit committee, directors and auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to fix the remuneration of the auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to appoint external auditors to replace retiring auditors of the company.
  • The appointment of four individuals as members of the audit committee.
  • A decision to restructure the company’s business capital was also reached.

In case you missed it: The shareholders of Niger Insurance Plc in the 49th Annual General Meeting approved the decision by the company’s board to raise additional capital to the tune of N15 billion, in a bid to meet the revised recapitalization targets for general and life insurance companies.

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What you should know: The House of Representatives had in December 2020 directed NAICOM to suspend the mandatory deadline for the first phase of 50%-60% of the minimum paid-up share capital for insurance and reinsurance firms.

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