• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Elegy for late Remi Olowude


Life is brutish, nasty, poor and short was the lamentation of Thomas Hobbs. This writer could not agree less with the philosophical icon. Not even with the gradual and painful exit of men whom one could describe as the “flowers of the human society”. This writer was like many Nigerians, especially in the insurance industry, devastated by news of the demise of Mr. Remi Olowude, pioneer of IGI Plc and a man who bestrode the Insurance industry like a colossus. It is painful that a chapter has been closed in the history of the Nigerian insurance industry and the financial services sector in general.  Olowude always came across as a man who was approachable, witty and generous in all dimensions of life. You cannot miss his boldness, frankness and crave to do things differently, virtues which he horned since his tutelage at the then octopus NICON Insurance Corporation. At NICON, young Olowude showed irrepressible traits of an upwardly mobile executive who was not content with the arm chair disposition of most insurance practitioners of yesteryears. Inspite of his scholastic inclination that put him on the threshold of a Doctoral degree in Econometrics at the University of Santa Clara, USA, after obtaining a glowing Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, Olowude amazingly gave in to the allure of being an insurance practitioner with distinction. He brought to bear on the underwriting world his robust multi- disciplinary background.  Not the type to be twined in the then pervasive conservative cocoon, Olowude pioneered IGI Insurance Company Limited as a wholly private company, a feat that was an uphill task in those days. Against all odds, IGI opened the flood gate for other corporate initiatives, while the company in itself became one of the templates for modern day insurance operation. Olowude, without a doubt, brought dynamism and candor to the insurance industry and regardless of divergent opinions that people at some point may have about him and his style, it is an inimitable fact that Olowude was a leader in the conjectures of J. C Maxwell who connected superbly with his workers and subordinates or followers. Through his large heart and affableness Olowude turned the IGI into an academy of some sort, with a strong nexus connecting his employees even when they may have left the company.  Personally, Olowude’s  large heart comes to play in the recruitment of insurance professionals from diverse backgrounds who he may have met in the course of his work life. It is therefore not strange for the “human products”of IGI to be seen dotting the land scape and holding commanding heights in the nation’s politics and economy. Among the notable “products of IGI” are the present Deputy Governor of Osun State, Mrs Laoye Tomori and the Commissioner for Education in Lagos State, Mr Bisi Oladunjoye, to mention but a few.  There is definitely no way the history of Nigeria’s industry into foreign markets would be told without a mention of Olowude’s IGI. The company opened the flood gate of insurance operation to Uganda, Sudan, the Gambia and Ghana before other companies followed. Rightly, he may be regarded as the avant-garde of Nigerian insurance expansionism!

In spite of his love and deep passion for the insurance industry, Olowude made impressionable landmarks in other avocations, notably communications and sports, going by his special interest in promoting the Nigerian local league to prominence. Though, ill health did not allow him perform most effectively as he would have wanted to as the Chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association, the little he could do in that office remained etched in the minds of operators and members. It was during his tenure that greater momentum was given to the Nigerian Insurance Industry Data Base (NIID), earlier conceived by his predecessor, Barrister Olusola Ladipo- Ajayi. The NIID has today become a useful tool in the hands of the vehicle inspection authorities to militate against counterfeiting of insurance documents. The fear of NIID has definitely become the beginning of wisdom for motorists in some parts of Nigeria today.

Definitely, with the demise of Olowude, the wise ones should begin to reflect on the finitude of life. Surely, if death needed money, Olowude would not have been its victim; if it needed connection, it would have given more that it bargained for. Alas, all these are vain in the day of death’s dreadful visitation. What a miserable Life is this? We strive to acquire all the good things of life only to leave them behind when life itself is sweetest. For Olowude, the world, the Nigerian nation and insurance fraternity would have wished you were here for a longer time, so they could continue to benefit from your rich repository of ideas, valuable and vigorous life.

Suffice it to conclude in the words of the great American President, Abraham Lincolnin one of his memorable addresses: According to him, “The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we did while here! In this instance, Remi Olowude, an honoured and revered member of the Nigerian society, gave himself unstintingly to the course of growing the insurance broking profession and deepened the financial services sector, fighting hard for every good cause he believed in and now like a good actor, he has departed the terrestrial world triumphantly.  May God grant his soul a repose.