Olaotan Soyinka, MD/ CEO STI
BY KUNLE OGEDENGBE—--The contribution of the insurance industry into the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is less than one per cent over the years. This, according to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun at a recent event of the Nigerian Council of Insurance Brokers, (NCRIB), is not a welcome development if our economy is to grow exponentially and government of Nigeria is not happy with this. Former Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy in the last administration, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also said such situation is not acceptable to the government of Nigeria at the 2014 NCRIB conference in Abuja.
To redress this situation, different players in the Nigerian insurance industry have engaged the insuring public to enhance insurance contribution to the gross domestic product of the country. Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc is leaving no stone unturned is ensuring the insurance contribution to the gross domestic product of Nigeria increases from the present under one per cent. It is for this that the underwriting company is sponsoring the Ibadan Open Golf Tournament for the past six years.
This act of Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc goes in line with the position of Prof. Anne Gregory of the University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom that stakeholders should be involved in developing corporate brands. In her paper published in the Journal of Marketing Management entitled Involving Stakeholders in Developing Corporate Brands: the Communication Dimension, Prof. Gregory underlined four strategies that should be used to develop the corporate brand and these are information, consultation, involvement and partnership. It is for this that partnering stakeholders through golf is a strong way of increasing insurance penetration in Nigeria through information sharing about insurance, consultations and involvement as golfers across the country are major stakeholders in the country.
Despite the big potential in the Nigerian economy, the insurance industry has not been able to tap into the economic potential and bring out economic benefits for the country. How will Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, explain that in a country of 198 million people, insurance contributes less than one per cent to the economy at only 0.6 per cent and South Africa, second economy in the continent, contributes 15 per cent to the economy and in Morocco where insurance contributes three per cent? Also in Kenya, the largest economy in East Africa, insurance also contributes three per cent.
It should be underlined that the problems of insurance in Nigeria is multifaceted but partnering the stakeholders as Sovereign Trust is doing as a leading brand is a step that will not only work towards higher insurance penetration in Nigeria but will also address some of the shortcomings insurance is facing as information about insurance will be shared along with consultation and involvement of the stakeholders as posited by Prof. Gregory. The positive multiplier effects of this development will benefit the industry in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.
The importance of stakeholders in corporate management cannot be under stated as companies and industries thrive by dealing with the stakeholders in ensuring that the objectives of the individual, group, community, organisation, or even a nation are met mutually. Mutual in the sense that while the interest of the corporate body is being met; those of the stakeholders will also be met for it is only in that situation that there can be real stakeholder partnership between the organisation and the stakeholders for a better future for all especially for higher insurance penetration in Nigeria.
This year’s tournament, the 6th Sovereign Trust Open Golf Tournament was won by Olajide Owolabi of Abeokuta Golf Club. Abiodun Oyewoga came second. Owolabi who is playing handicap 0 won the Sovereign Trust Open with 149 Gross. Abiodun Oyewoga played 153 Gross. Alfa Sanusi who played 74 Gross won the pro category ahead of Emeka Obi and Monday Daniel who played 77 and 78 Gross respectively.
In the female category, Evelyn Oyome won ahead of Alaba Olatunji while Chief Babajide Olatunde-Agbeja clinched the insurance practitioner prize. Folasade Ajala emerged victorious in the net category ahead of Alhaja Otolola Adesiyan and Anne Oladejo.
The male champion, Owolabi said that the secret of his success was that he always took the game seriously. Hear him: “If I have an opportunity to participate in any tournament. I visit the range in order to improve my game and train well ahead of any tournament.”
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Idowu Salami, Captain of Ibadan Golf Club (IGC), who could not hide his excitement at the success of this year’s tournament said “this is a golf tournament that has become a watershed in the annals of golf competition not only in Ibadan Golf Club but also at both national and international amateur competitions, in terms of participation and national spread, but also ranks amongst the largest corporate sponsored events within the golfing circle”.
He thanked STI for sponsoring the tournament in perpetuity, promising that IGC would work hard to making a Pro-Am event. “We are grateful for the faith the STI management has in our club and we shall work assiduously in the planning and organisation until it becomes a full fledge Pro-Am Event”, the Captain said.
In a clime where infidelity to sponsorship promises is rife, no thanks to the harsh business climate, STI certainly deserves some gravitas for demonstrating consistency and admirable strength of brand character. This particularly is against the backdrop that over the years, STI has witnessed a change of leadership batons. This fact was certainly not lost on IGC boss, as he expressed his immense appreciation to the sponsors.
According to Salami, “the unbroken promise kept over the years despite the change in the management leadership of the company not only stands this tournament, but also defines this company as a solid corporate entity clothed with unhindered growth and development, deepening customers confidence irrespective of who is at the helms of affairs. Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc has kept faith even in the face of the challenging economic environment prevalent in the country today”.
Responding on behalf of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Olaotan Soyinka, the Assistant General Manager/Head of Corporate Communications and Brand Management, Mr. Segun Bankole, assured the club of the firm’s resolve in supporting the game of golf and sports development in general. “We still remain true to our commitment of sponsoring the tournament in perpetuity as part of our contribution to the development of golf and sports generally in our country. Our foray in this regard is not fortuitous but rather a management well-thought out decision to always give back to our operating environment at all levels of management as it relates to health, sports and environment.
“As a socially responsible corporate entity, we will, as much as the opportunity avail us, to continue to support and promote sporting excellence and qualitative recreation both locally and internationally. Our unmatched records are testimonies of our unflinching commitment towards the enhancement of human capital through sporting activities”, Bankole added.
Beyond its generous support for the development of the game of golf, what holds significant is the ingenuity of STI to deploy its sponsorship of the elite game as a tool to penetrate the vast insurance market. The logic is glaring enough. Since the elites love to play golf, a sponsorship by STI is inevitably a sure way of driving its brand into the consciousness of the golfers and indeed the general public as a brand that truly covers. That certainly suggests a strategic business partnership for the insuring public and the organisation.
An avid golfer, a trustee of the IGC who is also a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, commended the organisers for a good tournament. “I think I should place on record our sincere gratitude to STI for the trust, time and resources they have invested in the tournament year in year out. You are contributing to the development of the game in Nigeria. We pray for your success to continue to do more for the development of sports in Nigeria”, he stressed.
Dignitaries at the three-day tournament included Prince Oyinlola; Chief Babajide Olajide-Agbeja, CEO of the brokerage firm, Boff and Company and a trustee of IGC, who also emerged as the winner of the insurance practitioner category; Mr. Doyin Owolabi, former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; Mr. Jacob Erhabor, the executive vice chairman of Edge Leasing Solutions Limited; Mr. Niyi Odusi, Executive Director, Branch Operations & Business Development of Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc; Sanni Oladimeji, STI’s Deputy General Manager, Risk Management and Compliance; and Emmanuel Anikibe, STI’s Assistant General Manager, Marketing amongst others.
Ogedengbe sent this article from Lagos.