NIA Chairman, Tope Smart
By TOPE ADARAMOLA, Lagos
There is no way the narrative of the insurance industry in Nigeria would be complete without a conspicuous space allotted to Mr Tope Smart, who is not only the Group Managing Director of one of the foremost insurance companies in Nigeria, but also the Chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association, a body that has over the years protected the interest of all underwriting companies in Nigeria, as well as insurance consumers.
Smart is a perfect bridge between the old and younger generation of insurance practitioners, having put in roughly three decades in the risk management profession.
The second class upper degree insurance graduate of the prestigious university of Lagos has had a very rich and rewarding career crystalising in his early rise to zenith position of managing director of defunct Vigilant Insurance Company Ltd even when many of his contemporaries were at a loss as to their future career paths.
On successful merger with NEM Insurance, due to recapitalization drive, it was just most expedient that Tope, as he is fondly called by his contemporaries was thrown up as the Managing Director of the company.
From that time it has been catalogue of successes given the strong positioning of the NEM brand as one of the numero uno of the insurance underwriting companies in Nigeria today.
Having been recognized for his uncanny wisdom, humility and sound professional acumen, Tope Smart was elected Chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association, a body of which Governing Board he had been for up to 15 years.
Like the proverbial golden fish that could not be hidden, Tope again brought pride to the Nigerian nation and the insurance industry particularly when the insurance operators in Africa rose in unison to elect him the Vice President of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) in Johannesburg, South Africa. As if to test the sagacity of Mr Smart, it looks quite coincidental that the confab also decided that the next AIO Conference for 2020 should be held in Nigeria.
This is placing a heavy burden of playing host to no fewer than four thousand insurance operators on Mr Tope Smart, the Nigerian insurance industry and the nation. Happily, Mr Smart has taken up the responsibility as he often does, mobilizing his studded team to work.
As the main Nigerian ambassador of the AIO, Mr Smart is quite optimistic that the forthcoming conference would bring bounty of goodies to the Nigerian nation in terms of positive image, as well as showcase the insurance industry which had been imperiled by poor perception leading to abysmally poor patronage by government and the populace.
According to him, the confab would “catalyse the growth of the industry in Africa by bringing attention to the industry as a pivot for genuine national growth and development, but that has not been adequately recognized”. He boasts that it would be the best confab of the continental body to be organized in history.
As the day comes nearer towards the event, though challenging as the tasks could seem, there is a glimmer of hope that Mr Smart will bring in his rare traits and ingenuity as a superb administrator, savvy professional and uncanny humility (which is a forerunner of success) to bear in giving Africa and most importantly our nation, Nigeria a conference to relish for a long time to come in terms of effectiveness of organization.
It’s another test of the midas touch which Mr Smart has often put on everything that God providentially puts his way. This, to me, would not be an exception!