By Tope Adaramola
It is no longer news that the Awori born Lagosian and national icon, Asiwaju (Dr) Michael Olawale-Cole, CON, has been elected as the 24th President of the prestigious Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
The Chamber, established in 1888 is one of the oldest in Africa and has carved admirable feat for itself as a strong and potent voice for the organized private sector through its promotion of sound business ethics and public policy advocacy thrust. The Chamber has impressively increased its membership strength from just four at inception to over 2,500 today.
There is no doubt that the emergence of Asiwaju Olawale Cole as President of the Chamber is an icing of some sort on his eventful life and career as a consummate public administrator, entrepreneur, Insurance Broking professional, humanist, community leader and politician.
A highly focused and diligent personae, Olawale-Cole’s odyssey could be likened to a man who, though unwittingly, lived by the popular Japanese principle of “Kaizen” which infuses “constant and never ending improvement in man”, making him to soar unfettered in life and career.
Though a man of encyclopedic dimensions, having served as a two time Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Past District Governor of Rotary Club International, President of the prestigious Lagos Alumni Association and President of the Nigerian Institute of Management, where his trademarks were superlative accomplishments as a leader, his pedigree and contributions to the profession of Insurance Broking as President obviously fascinated this writer.
There is definitely no way the narrative of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) which is the collective for Insurance Broking professionals in Nigeria would be written without a conspicuous chapter devoted to the niche of Asiwaju Olawale-Cole. At a period when the Council was striving for more relevance and brand presence, Asiwaju Olawale-Cole as 10th President gave the desired ginger to its aspirations.
Records show that it was during his tenure that the Council conceived several initiatives that have been institutionalized in the Council till date. Among others, he took the first step in setting the pathway for a glamorous investiture ceremony to draw the attention of those that matter in the society to the Council. This was achieved at his investiture held at the Airport Hotel Ikeja, where the crème de la crème in the society were present.
Writing on his leadership initiatives, the revered pioneer scribe of the Council, Dr. Remi Alo noted that Asiwaju Olawale-Cole came to lead the Council at a time when the challenges of globalization and how to contend with it by professionals was bogging. He noted that with adroit leadership skills, Asiwaju helped the Council to wade through. It was also noted that during his tenure, the now popular “Brokers Evening” of the Council was conceived as a bi-monthly bridge building platform between Insurance Underwriters and Brokers. The inaugural edition was hosted by the defunct Unic Insurance Co. Ltd under the leadership of Nimbe Oviosu.
In terms of the NCRIB law, although Asiwaju helped to lay the preliminaries and gathered the fragments, the vision for the NCRIB Act materialized under the presidency of High Chief Prosper Okpue and Prince Dr Feyisayo Soyewo. The Council will also not forget in a hurry the Councils strategic business and international adventurism to such institutions as the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA). He also envisioned the erection of a befitting secretariat complex for the Council, which later materialized fully under Dr Teslim Sanusi and Barr. Laide Osijo.
As expected, the emergence of Asiwaju Olawale-Cole has tickled great excitement amongst members of the Chamber, where he has held strategic leadership positions such as Deputy President, Vice President and Chairpersons of several other Committees, the excitement amongst Insurance Brokers is more as exemplified in the message of felicitations forwarded to him by the Council’s President, Mr. Rotimi Edu, mni. Edu expressed confidence that Asiwaju Olawale-Cole has earned the required pedigree as an astute insurance professional to give strong and progressive leadership to the Chamber.
He (Edu) was particularly enthused by the overwhelming success of the recently organized Lagos International Trade Fair where the Council facilitated insurance industry’s presence for the first time, a feat that was significantly oiled by Asiwaju Olawale-Cole as the Chamber’s Deputy President. The NCRIB looks forward to more involvement of the industry in future Fairs.
Although it should not be lost on anyone that a great task beckons as President of the famous LCCI, more so that the nation’s economy has regrettably remained comatose, putting huge operational challenges on operators who are significantly members of the Chamber, there is no doubt that Asiwaju Olawale-Cole, like a famous navigator that he is, is also a proponent of the legendary Benjamin Distraeli, who posited that “the secret of great leaders is that they are prepared before their time”.
He definitely has all the seasoning needed for the position and it is hoped that the entire insurance industry would most notably take advantage of this great product of the profession to forge more effective synergy with the organized private sector through the LCCI, in order to catalyze its dreams of deepening insurance acceptance in the country.
Tope Adaramola is
Executive Secretary of NCRIB