New NIA Chairman, Tope Smart, taking oath of office
* Tope Smart now NIA Chairman
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Chuks Udo Okonta
The volume of business written by insurance companies grew from N315.96 billion in 2016 to an estimated N363 billion in 2017, the former Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Eddie Efekoha, has said.
He disclosed this today at the association’s 47th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, adding that the growth represented an increase of 15 per cent over the 2016 figure.
Efekoha maintained that the industry operators in collaboration with the National Insurance commission (NAICOM) have embarked on various initiative to deepen insurance penetration. These initiatives according to him, included, the insurance industry roadmap; financial inclusion; micro insurance; bancassurance and the insurance industry rebranding project.
He noted that the association’s Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) initiative and other strategic efforts will increase insurance uptake by the public.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director, NEM Insurance Plc, Tope Smart, was elected as the Chairman of the association. Also elected as council members of the association were, Group Managing Director, AIICO Insurance Plc, Edwin Igbiti; Managing Director, Mutual Benefits Assurance, Segun Omosehin and Managing Director, Capital Express Company Limited, Mrs Bola Odukale. Six more members are expected to be brought into the council.
While addressing the members, the new Chairman, said he will do everything possible to move the industry forward. He called on members to to support him in moving the industry forward.
He said the association will continue to collaborate with other arms of the industry and the National Insurance Commission.
Smart and past NIA Chairman, Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi
Tope Smart is from Ijagba in Ondo State. He was born on the14th of April, 1964 at Omuo Ekiti in Old Ondo State now Ekiti State. He started his education from St. Silas Primary School, Omuo– Ekiti between 1970 and 1976.
He continued his Secondary Education within the same vicinity by attending the Community Grammar School, Omuo Ekiti where he completed his O’ level examination and emerged as the overall best graduating student in 1981.
Smart was not done with education like some of his counterparts that dropped out of school immediately after the completion of the Secondary Education. He got admission at the Federal School of Arts and Science in Ondo for his Advanced level program. This step led him to gain admission into the prestigious University of Lagos where he read Insurance and graduated in 1987 with a Second Class Upper degree and also won the University’s prize for the overall best graduating student in Insurance department. Mr. Smart equally won the Unity Life and Fire Insurance Company Limited prize for the best graduating student in Insurance in the same year.
He proceeded immediately after graduation for the National Youth Service Corps program at Everyman Insurance Brokers, Abuja where he was involved in the overall operations of the branch office. He contributed in no small measure to the rapid growth of the Company. After the National Youth Service, he was rewardedwith a permanent employment as a Branch Manager with the same firm. He however left Abuja to join Nigerian-French Insurance Company Limited as one of the pioneer staff in 1989.
In 1991, Smart completed his professional examination with the award of CII London where he equally won the prize for Distinction in Property and Pecuniary Insurance. He served Nigerian French in various capacities and became an outstanding staff in the company. No wonder, he was rewarded with a double promotion and was made to head the Marine Unit of the company, a position he held till he left the company.
In 1991 he left Nigerian French and joined hands with two other people to pioneer Perpetual Assurance Company Limited as Assistant Controller. In this position, he was responsible for the development of the Technical and Marketing policies of the company, a task he performed beyond the expectation of the Board. He was therefore rewarded with a promotion to the position of a Controller, barely a year after the company commenced operations in 1992. In 1994, due to his continuous impressive results he was again promoted to the position of Assistant General Manager (Operations) of the company.
In the year 1995, Smart joined Vigilant Insurance Company Limited as the General Manager/Chief Executive Officer. He was responsible for the overall growth and development of the organization. In view of the outstanding results posted in two years, the Board in 1997 approved his elevation to the position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer with shareholding in the company.
He transformed the company from N6 Million annual premium income in 1995 to an industry leader with a recorded premium income of about N1 Billion in 2005. The company was acknowledged and adjudged as one of the fastest growing Insurance companies in Nigeria then. The company was not only making profit but consistently paid dividends to its shareholders throughout the period. This excellent performance was rewarded with the Active Corporate Executive award for Excellence by Credit News in April, 2000. This was followed with the Award of Excellence by the Actuary Science and Insurance Students’ Association, University of Lagos in September, 2001.
In 2007, he successfully spearheaded the merger arrangement between Vigilant Insurance Company Limited and NEM Insurance Plc. After the merger, Mr. Smart was appointed the Managing Director of the merged entity. The company has since become the delight of shareholders and brokers alike.
He has properly positioned NEM to be one of the industry leaders today. The company has won several awards.
A visionary leader, Tope Smart, a very passionate Insurance Executive initiated the construction of a befitting edifice for NEM Insurance Plc. The building, now a pride to the Industry has contributed to the promotion of the image of the Nigeria Insurance Industry.
In 2009, he set up a subsidiary in Ghana, named NEM Insurance Ghana Limited which he wanted to use as a Springboard to launch out to other West African Countries.
Smart presently sits on the Board of Regency NEM Insurance and NEM Asset Nigeria Limited among others.
In 2014, he was appointed by the Federal Government as Co-Chairman of Insurance Industry Transformation Committee. An alumnus of Havard Business School, he is a member of Ikoyi Club 1938.
He an Assistant Pastor with Redeemed Christian Church of God is happily married with children.