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No doubt, death is a necessary end for all mortals and like pilgrims that we truly are, everyone will one day literally get to his journey’s terminal point. This calls for deep introspection by all on how best to spend our lives while on this side of eternity.
The news of the demise of former President of Professional Insurance Ladies Association (PILA) and admirable product of the Nigerian Insurance industry, Dr Tonia Smart, came like a thunderbolt in the wind to many professionals and stakeholders. Tonia, a delectable wife of another insurance industry’s iconic figure and Group Managing Director of NEM Insurance Plc, Mr Tope Smart, did not any inch seem a candidate of early death as she was quite vivacious, charming and as conversational as usual. I spoke with her some few weeks back and she was hale and hearty. Unfortunately we have lost her at the unripe age of 57.
There is no doubt that Dr Tonia Smart’s life was that of humility and infectious kindness. Not the type to flout her intellect and huge social capital, which God generously endowed her and her husband, she would always give due respect to all those that came her way, regardless of their position and station, indicating sound family grooming and fear of God. The insurance industry would miss her resourcefulness as a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute, marker of the CIIN exams and teacher.
Her foray into the insurance industry is a study in career fluidity. Despite being a graduate of Chemistry and Masters’ Degree holder in the same discipline from the University of Lagos and one time Science Reporter with famous Punch Newspapers, Dr Smart perched with the Insurance Industry seamlessly, bagging the coveted Associateship of the Chartered Insurance Institute London and Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria.
Her penchant for professional scholarship earned her the position of Ambassador of the CII to Nigeria till her painful demise. Having horned her professional skills from Hogg Robinson Nigeria and later Capital Express Insurance Company Ltd as a Business Development Manager, Mrs Smart’s passion for Life Insurance was unbendable.
She had flourishing career with Nigeria Life and Pension Consultants Ltd as Assistant General Manager and left the company to join the Pension Commission of Lagos State (LASPEC) as Assistant Director/HOD Inspectorate.
Her multiprenueral inclination came to the fore when she retired from LASPEC to found her pet project, York City Consult Ltd. Like the golden ish that could not be hidden it was not surprising to many that she was appointed as Chairman of the Ondo State Pension Commission by the Governor of the State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, where she made impressionable imprints on the State’s pension administration as a pathway to quality life for pensioners after retirement.
A multi disciplinary professional, Dr Smart was a member of Senate of Junior Chamber International, the prestigious Ikoyi Club and Associate member of the Women in Business Management & Public Service (WIMBIZ).
While the entire insurance industry is still smarting from the pains of the demise of this valuable human asset, our consolation should be that the deceased left a footprint of service and professionalism.
Though the void is obvious everywhere she served and touched while here, our hearts must particularly go to the admirable husband of the deceased, Mr Tope Smart, the NEM Insurance family, which sense of loss could not be fathomed at this grieving period.
As mortal beings still with the breath of life, we all could only wish to also finish well and live positive lives of service while we have the opportunity. We must all strive to uphold the good virtues of humility, service and human kindness which Dr Smart stood for, as a way of memorialising the great life she lived while with us.
As final arrangements are being made for committal of the remains of Dr Smart to mother earth, our pained heart could only say adieu to a lovely sister, friend, professional colleague and noble soul until we meet at the resurrection morning, where we would part no more!
Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers