Insurance

Former Director General NIA Funmi Adeyemi passes on

Late prof. Adeyemi

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Chuks Udo Okonta

Former Director-General of Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA) Prof. Moses Olorunfumi Adeyemi has passed on to eternity.

The former Legal Adviser of National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON) and visiting Professor of Insurance, University of Gambia ,gave up the ghost, early this morning at Eko Hospital, Lagos, after a brief illness.

The erudite Lawyer, alumnus of University of Lagos, and a pastor of Christ Apostolic Church, Ebute Meta was 77.

In a statement issued by her daughter, Mrs Jumoke Ifaturoti, and signef by hos cousin, Chief Sina Ogunbambo, noted that prof.
Adeyemi will be committed to mother earth on Friday, July 12, 2019 at his residence in Okun – Owa, Odogbolu Local Government, Ogun State after a funeral service to be conducted by Christ Apostolic Church of Nigeria.

Assistant Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Tope Adaramola, in a tribute writes: It was initially a piece of disturbing news, more so just coming few days after the insurance industry was hit by the news of demise of Chief Oladipupo Bailey, an iconic insurance practitioner and former Commissioner for Insurance. Now it’s confirmed that Prof. Olorunfunmi Moses Adeyemi, former Director General of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) and one of the finest insurance lawyers in Nigeria, in the mold of Prof. Joe Irukwu, SAN, is no more.

He died in Lagos during a brief illness. Personally, this is an unenviable task for me to undertake the tribute of these two notable figures whom I knew quite well and drew significant inspiration from just like many others who had a relationship with them while they lived. They also in one way or the other shaped my perspective of life.

Nonetheless, I owe their memories this write-ups as mark of appreciation for what they stood for during their lifetime as well as a tonic for those of us who are living to know that whatever we do on this side of eternity, whether good or bad would be remembered someday.

It is an irony that the duo were friends and they both hail from Ogun State. They were of the Ijebu extraction. Their friendship dated back to their childhood days, to the extent of belonging to the same famous age grade in Ijebu land and having to perform the duties of being Chairman of each other’s children’s wedding ceremonies at different times. But despite this closeness, the two were quite principled in their different rights when it comes to how they felt their professional tasks should be undertaken.

To this extent they had serious disagreements that projected them as adversaries in the eyes of the public when they both held command positions in the insurance industry. I personally worked with Late Funmi Adeyemi as the Head of Public Relations during his tenure as Director General of the Nigerian Infieldfeild where he taught insurance law and wrote celebrated and landmark books on insurance law in Nigeria.

The books are compulsory read by insurance and risk management scholars both in Nigerian universities and institutions offering insurance in the country, the Gambia and other parts of the world.

Having to work with Late Adeyemi during his days at NIA was quite challenging; you had to match up with his high level of reasoning, intellection, and officiousness. He never suffered fools gladly.

I remember him asking me the first day I joined the NIA to go to my office and write down in clear terms what I had come to do in NIA as a PR man, as well as what values I going to add value to my new employer.

He was quite detailed and belonged to the old school of trainers who instilled discipline in their subordinates in all ramifications. Frankly, as a young man, I never liked him initially because I believed he was too officious and diligent to the extent of marking my internal memo as if he was a school teacher.

I remembered writing an essay for him and in his characteristic way he called me: “PRM can I see you now”? On getting to his office, I peeped and saw he had underlined a particular phrase I used in my article with a red biro. I knew he was up to something. Thank goodness, I was able to defend that grammatical discretion.

In his characteristic attributes of also learning and submitting to superior arguments, he retorted “I submit to you on that” sarcastically saying further that “you know you guys read modern English!” I also did not like him for his frugality. Each time he traveled and came back, he would give you gifts that were too token in my own estimation. He would also say that every token should matter to a man that would live a life of financial freedom.

He was a disciplinarian to a fault and I was at the butt of his administrative punishments many times because of the nature of my job and closeness to him. He would say “Tope, I want you to be seasoned. I can pardon grammatical slips from any numerate professional, but not from you as a budding PR professional.

As I grew up I appreciated his discipline and relish many of the skills and aptitude I gleaned from his Spartan, but studious life. On the part of the NIA, Late Adeyemi Stands undoubtedly as one decision-making process. Through his legal powers he affirmed the NIA staving off legislation that could have emasculated the Association, not even sparing NAICOM, the regulatory institution, under which his friend, Late Dipo Bailey held sway.

On principle, their relationship became frosty and thank goodness, they must have made up before their deaths. NIA and NAICOM were in court on several grounds, particularly on who should be the rightful custodian of the security fund which NIA had accumulated over the years.

Also, the issue of whether only those who possessed the CII certificates would be made CEOs of companies was also contentious and drew the ire of the two, and even taken to the theatre of the courts. There is no way the history of the NIA would be written without a conspicuous space allotted to Adeyemi’s impact.

He also lent the insurance industry his gift of law having come handy in the legal battle between NCRIB and NAICOM on the propriety of the NCRIB Act No 21 of 2003 which was through him won at the High Courts.

As Legal Adviser, Rev. Adeyemi helped the NCRIB significantly and happily the Council conferred on him the honourary Fellowship of the Council in appreciation of his unselfish devotion to the course of the Council. Surely, the place of Adeyemi in the history of the industry cannot also be missing. While serving as then Legal Adviser to the famous Nicon Insurance Corporation (NICON), Adeyemi in concert with the adroit leadership of Late Yinka Lijadu, took the company to the heights due to their shrewd management of resources.

It was a time Nicon, without a dime from the then federal government, built the luxuriant Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel, Abuja, founded NAL Merchant Bank and had significant hands in the establishment of many corporate business institutions. It was the golden era of the Nigerian insurance industry!.

A prolific writer and clergy man of the CAC denomination, Prof Adeyemi who is also a visiting professor to the West African Insurance Institute (WAII) in The Gambia, must have had a premonition of his death when a three-man team of my boss, Mr. Fatai Adegbenro, our Legal Manager, Seun Korode and I visited him in his Magodo residence in Lagos.

He told us he was already wounding off his legal firm as age was catching up with him. It was an emotional and painful moment. It’s an understatement to say he would be sorely missed by the industry which is still smarting from the loss of his friend, Dr. Bailey. My take is that its high time the industry and by extension, all industries began to celebrate their forebears before they take their eventual exit.

But in all these happenings we must take to heart that death is the bus stop of all humans, and definitely we shall all be remembered for what we all did while on this side of life, whether good or bad. For Prof Adeyemi, its bye to one of the legal minds of the insurance industry.

The world would miss him!

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