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Expert calls for collaboration in drive for funeral insurance policy growth

Olumuyiwa Onikoyi, director of MO Funerals International has called for collaborative efforts to drive the country’s funeral insurance policy

Onikoyi advocated for the creation of a unified voice in the funeral industry which can push a united cause that is favourable to the Nigerian government and all stakeholders on the funeral insurance policy.

In an interview with the London-certified funeral director, he stated that creating an association for funeral directors in Nigeria will result in a win-win situation for the government, insurance brokers, Nigerians, and the directors.

He emphasised the importance of funeral insurance policy to include less financial and logistics burdens on the relatives of deceased; ease of doing funeral business; cutting the red tape to give way to modern approaches and reduce risks amongst other benefits.

Read Also: Africa’s recovery from covid-19 will be slow

“To create an enabling environment for funeral directors, the main issue is identifying the strategies which the government will push out. In Nigeria currently, we don’t have a unified funeral directing association which is very important if we want to have headway and gain the government’s attention,” he said.

“All funeral directors need to have one unified voice that will stand and push the cause of the industry across to the government,” he added.

He also stated that live-stream coverage during funeral services is gaining prominence considering the impacts of the pandemic lockdown amidst other changes, an encouragement for MO Funerals International who has prior plans to venture into broadcasting on radio transmitters as a means of contributing to social distancing.

However, the reluctance of some clients in Nigeria to foot all bills relating to the effective delivery of the services which is seldom encountered with overseas clients is proving to be a challenge, he says.

“MO Funerals has received a lot of success in the areas of live-streams during funeral services. We intend getting into broadcasting burial services on AM/FM transmitters so people don’t have to get out of their cars,” he said.

“We once had a young woman that passed away and the family wanted to have a service, so we did a set up in our parking lot, and more than 10 cars drove by and paid their last respects to the deceased,” he added.

Onikoyi, a Master’s Degree holder in Information Security and Computer Forensics from the University of East London, MPhil in Cybersecurity and BSc in Computing Information System from Goldsmith College, University of London revealed that Covid-19 has effected diverse changes in the industry.

With the availability of the webpage, it has become easy to engage clients and complete all pre-arrangements virtually. He further expressed surprise at the African system not embracing cremation, especially considering the changes which the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to funeral services.

“One surprise we had at MO Funerals is that the pandemic has not increased demand for cremations. Notably, As African, we are not really into Cremation but the shutdown/Lockdown may also be reversing the trend toward traditional funerals.”

According to him, the key reasons why many people are choosing cremation are separation of family across the U.S. (non-traditional family nucleus); increasing acceptance of the cremation process in our culture, and eco-consciousness tendencies in consumers (don’t want to take up precious land space with a traditional burial in a cemetery.

He noted that pre-planning arrangements culture is also on the rise. “The percentage of the population that feels it’s important to pre-plan funeral and cemetery and vaults purchases have jumped up.”

With offices in the UK and South Africa, he revealed that his organisation committed employees had to work from home in compliance with Covid-19 regulations to ensure efficient delivery of services.

He added that Covid-19 played a significant role in the recent upsurge witnessed in the funereal industry.

“We view ourselves as ‘final responders’, which is a play on the words ‘first responder’. When the pandemic hit, it gave a chance for the industry to thrive, because we were going to be there, no matter what we had to go through to be able to serve our communities,” he stated.

He further added that the idea to venture into the industry came to form when he travelled abroad, though he grew up as a member of Boy’s Brigade. As a senior project manager at the Ministry of Defence in the UK where he was the focal point for bereaved fallen officers, the experience gained and moments shared propelled him to engage in the funereal industry.

“Seeking to promote one-stop funeral directing business in Nigeria, my role as a managing partner is to provide a memorable experience for the deceased’s family to reflect the celebration of their lifestyle even in death via phone or face to face, as well as to build customer loyalty by leveraging interpersonal skills and offering top customer service to our numerous client during the most difficult time of losing their love ones.

“With over 10 years of professional experience in dealing with bereavement across multi-cultural ethnicity around the globe and Nigeria in particular, these tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the arrangements for the funeral ceremony,” he said.

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