PROLIFIC SUNDAY PEOPLE:Oluremi Olowude, Insurance Monument Per Excellence

 ‘’The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.’-Mark Twain
That Lord Twain's quote no doubt is one that vividly speaks volume on the life and times of  the  just recently gone to the great beyond of The Executive Vice-Chairman of the Industrial and General Insurance Plc (IGI) and immediate past Chairman of the umbrella body for insurance and reinsurance companies, Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA); Mr. Remi Olowude
THE Insurance giant who last month  died in a hospital in the United States of America  after a protracted illness is a brand that the insurance and business world will not forget in haste..
Olowude,during his days on earth it can be recalled  deployed his international business expertise, professionalism and vision to build a conglomerate with interests in various business sectors spanning financial services, telecommunications, oil and gas, mortgage banking and aviation.
The deceased was Chief Executive Officer of IGI and the Chairman of National Insurance Corporation Limited, a publicly quoted company in Uganda.  He was also the Co-chairman of SONARWA Holdings, which owns separate life and general insurance companies in Rwanda.
An associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London, Olowude had a Masters Degree in Economics and had completed the coursework for the award of a Doctorate degree from the University of Santa Clara, California, USA before his death today.
His last insurance industry outing was during the interactive session between the members of the governing board of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and insurance industry operators in Lagos in March 11, 2014.
As the leader of the insurance industry at the meeting, Olowude canvassed a bail-out for insurance companies. 
The death of Olowude is a sad one for us in Osun and Nigeria as a whole. Here is a man of immense qualities, which he had employed to promote everything ideal in his lifetime.
Olowude, unarguably, distinguished himself in the insurance and business sector to the extent that his name became a household name across the country.
Throughout his sojourn on the earthly surface, he distinguished himself as a man of immense wealth, a perfect gentle man and an Omoluabi per excellence, which is what Osun epitomizes.
There is therefore, no gainsaying the fact that Olowude’s exit would create a huge gap in the business and insurance sector in Nigeria.Many have written all sort of tributes on the man Olowude, but a tribute by his loyalist, Tope Adaramola moved me, here Tope: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 yesteryear's. In spite 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. 
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.

IGI vows to preserve Olowude’s legacies

In most Africa nations, if an icon dies, his legacy dies with him, can that be same with IGI/OLOWUDE?
No, no no the company seems to be saying.Only last week The company   vowed  to sustain the legacies of its founder and Executive Vice-Chairman, Dr. Oluremi Andrew Olowude, who died on Sunday.
The company has opened condolence messages at the late CEO’s private residence and the company’s offices at home and abroad.
In a statement announcing Olowude’s passing on behalf of the board and management yesterday, signed by IGI’s Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Steve Ilo, the company assured “all stakeholders that we shall preserve the IGI legacy and vigorously pursue the dream and vision of the departed founder. “
The statement said: “A visionary entrepreneur with remarkable patriotic zeal, Dr. Olowude was a self-driven achiever and business leader, who built a virile conglomerate with interests in insurance, banking, health management services, construction, and telecommunications services. He was a front line member of Corporate Nigeria and the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA).
“IGI Plc, which he founded in 1992, is a leading insurance company in Nigeria underwriting all classes of insurance business. IGI is also present in Uganda, Rwanda and The Gambia, with a representative office in London.
“The Board and Management assure all stakeholders that we shall preserve the IGI legacy and vigorously pursue the dream and vision of the departed founder.
During his life time , if there is one thing that late Olowude loves so much is nothing than soccer, he gets his kick by the game and made sure his company associated with big brand names
The Nigeria’s foremost sports-friendly insurance company, Industrial and General Insurance Plc (IGI) endorsed many supers starts,latest of which is  Super Eagles
striker, Osaze Odemwingie as its Brand Ambassador for the next three years.Executive Vice Chairman of the company, Mr Remi Olowude, made the announcement in Abuja  at the formal signing of the Brand Endorsement Agreement between IGI Plc and Odemwingie.
He noted that both the company and Odemwingie were well-known and appreciated brands within and outside Nigeria. He added that the endorsement would help to sell both the company and the player to the outside world since the Eagles star would be required to be the face of the company.“At IGI, we believe that our partnership provides an opportunity to leverage the personality of an iconic national sporting figure as the company’s brand ambassador,” he said. “We settled for Odemwingie because of his reputation, commitment and dedication to the Nigerian national team over the years. He will help in projecting the image and reach of the company to sports loving audience across the world.”
Late Olowude disclosed that IGI had in the past entered into contracts with such sporting figures as footballer Rashidi Yekini and Olympic gold medalist, Chioma Ajunwa to help them develop their careersHe noted that in recognition of IGI’s roles in sports development in the country, the company had continually been appointed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as the official insurer of the national football teams and was recently appointed the official insurer of the Nigeria Premier League. He urged Odemwingie and his colleagues in the Super Eagles to perform creditably well in all their matches, noting that all Nigerians are behind them. He also urged other corporate organizations to provide support for the Super Eagles and individual players. 
“We should all join hands to create an enabling environment for our footballers so that they too can reach the level of the Peles and the Maradonas of this world and take our football to the highest pedestal,”  was his last wish
To think the Chief Executive Officer/vice chairman of one of the biggest private insurance companies in Nigeria is a sports enthusiast!
Remi Olowude talks about sports with so much relish. “I used to be a sportsman and ran both 200 and 400 meters race when I was younger,” he recalls with glee. “I even participated in relays. I also went for long jumps but not hurdle.
“Because I love soccer, I promote soccer a lot. The Industrial and General Insurance Plc is the official insurer of all the national football teams. Nigerian soccer appears to be dying and we are trying to revive it by sponsoring grass-roots soccer with the football tournament, Remi Olowude cup. From last year’s tournament, we discovered two great players whom we are sending to Europe for training. The whole essence is to discover new and young talents and in essence take youths off the street. IGI sponsored Kanu Nwankwo, Rashidi Yekini, and the first Olympic gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa.”
Currently, the chairman of the National collegiate sports foundation, Olowude didn’t have any inkling in his early years that he would end up playing very pivotal roles in the insurance sector.
Having chosen to study mathematical economics at the University of Lagos, he had his eyes set for the civil service.
“During my time, a first degree was seen as a meal ticket,” reminisces the 60-year-old Inisha, Osun state born.
“But it became apparent to some of us that at some point in the future, unless one had a profession, one may not be able to make the type of progress that one desires. I was just studying the structure of the Nigerian economy and looking at the manufacturing and services industry and comparing it with the business cycle.
“I found out that the services industry grew irrespective of whether it was an economic boom or a recession. I didn’t want to join the bandwagon by going to the banking industry, accounting and the rest of them. So I had a chat with some insurance personnel, got impressed and decided to write the insurance exams even though it was three weeks to my final exams in school. I didn’t mind because I could multi-task and thank God I passed the exams.”
After his stint in the civil service (National planning), and another at the National Insurance Corporation, he felt it was about time to be independent.
“I had thought that I would spend only five years in NICON but I ended up staying longer than I envisaged. When I decided to set up shop, I spoke with a couple of people I had interacted with while in government — about 31 of us.
“They weren’t people who had too much money, but they had integrity and were capable of adding value to the Nigerian economy. Together, we wanted to bring in credibility to the insurance industry.”
His childhood was fun.
“I grew up in Ede, Ibadan and Lagos,” he reminisces
“My father was a library officer and my mother, a teacher and seamstress. I read in the library in the morning and went swimming in the afternoon. My father was a strict disciplinarian and at primary school, I had started dabbling into algebra. My mother, also a strict disciplinarian, would ensure we went to church.”
Not done on his childhood, he says:  “I lived with my maternal uncle, who was gentle and had traits that were quite unusual, he rarely drank, was a PhD holder and was outstanding in anything he did. He encouraged me to be focused in life. I wasn’t always the best but God has been kind to me.”
Though now more interested in enterprising ventures, he would not forget his love for fast cars as a young man.
“Then, I drove fast cars and ran races with a lot of people.”
Being married for 33 years is no joke.
Remembering his first meeting with Bunmi, his wife, Olowude recalls:
“When I saw her, something instantly told me she would be my wife. Immediately, I told her and she told me to forget it. She was very stubborn at first but she eventually succumbed. As a young man, I didn’t want to get married but when I met her, I became a lot more tranquilized.”
Still on his wife, he says, “I didn’t make a mistake at all and if I have to get married again it would have to be her. She has been my pillar of support.”
Ask the IGI boss what life has taught him at 60 and he replies:
“Humility. I have learn to be humble and to respect others and their views. I have also learnt to contribute to our society in my own little way without necessarily making any noise about it.”
Was that why he didn’t celebrate his 60th birthday(why alive)?
“When I was 50, the drums were really rolled out. In fact, it was almost going to become a carnival of sorts. So I made up my mind never to repeat that and to ensure strict compliance, I would always leave the country two days to my birthday.”
“Moreover, the nation was approaching an election and I didn’t want any political party to feel more favored or give people the impression that I am a member of any political party by reason of the caliber of people that may likely attend the party.
“In all honesty, I have achieved more than the things I projected for myself. All I wanted to do as the son of a librarian was to contribute to knowledge by writing books and getting my PhD.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t had enough time to write about my experiences — personally and in my field, economics and insurance, my later day calling. These are some of the things I hope to do in my later days.”, So sad, he never was able to write all he dream of

Oluremi Andrew Olowude was an Economist and Chartered Insurance Professional and international entrepreneur. He was one of the most accomplished and exceptional personalities of his generation. A man of great vision and diligence, “Remi” – as he was fondly called by his friends and associates - was a giant of the insurance industry in Nigeria who founded the IGI Plc in 1991. He subsequently established the IGI Group comprising IGI Plc, its local and offshore subsidiaries and sister-companies.
Under his versatile leadership as the founding Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of IGI Plc, he built the IGI Group into a formidable insurance brand in Nigeria. He was the driving force behind the phenomenal achievements of the brand which has made the conglomerate a dynamic global player with diverse business interests in Nigeria and across the African continent. He remained the Executive Vice Chairman of IGI Plc till his passage on Saturday 27th September 2014.
 Remi was a scion and distinguished ambassador of a proud heritage: the illustrious Olowude family of Inisa-Ejigbo, Osun State. He was born on 26th April 1951 to the Christian family of Deacon Joseph Olaniyan Olowude and Madam Felicia Moshobalaje Olowude – both deceased. He was the first child of nine siblings.
Remi had a sound multidisciplinary, academic and professional background.  For his primary and secondary education, he attended Ara Baptist Day School in Ara and Ede Baptist High School, Ede, both in Osun State. He proceeded to the Baptist High School in Iwo, Osun State where he passed his Advanced Level Certificate examinations in flying colours. Thereafter, he gained admission to study Economics at the University of Lagos, graduating in 1973 with a B.Sc. in Quantitative Economics.  He left for the United States in 1975 to further his knowledge of Economics and subsequently received an M.Sc. degree in Applied Economics from the University of Santa Clara in 1976. 
He returned home to his alma mater, the University of Lagos, for a Doctorate Programme in Applied Economics.  He passed the Ph.D Sitting Examination in 1978 even as he read for the qualifying examinations of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII) London.  He successfully completed the ACII examinations in 1981 to become a fully chartered insurance practitioner.

Remi was a man of great conviction and consistency. Through his entrepreneurial skills and groundbreaking marketing initiatives, he, almost single-highhandedly, was responsible for transforming the erstwhile lethargic insurance industry in Nigeria into a vibrant and modernized sub-sector of the financial inter-mediation and services sector.
A courageous team leader who led from the front, he never shied away from confronting a challenge with all the resources he could muster, once he was convinced of the legitimacy and rightfulness of a cause. His successful crusade against all forms of monopoly, especially in the insurance of government assets, remains a watershed in the history of insurance practice in Nigeria. The campaign, which he prosecuted with his trademark zeal and doggedness, significantly shifted competition in the industry to top gear and opened fresh streams of revenue for the operators.  
He raised the quality and capacity of manpower in his industry by successfully grooming a generation of first-class professionals in insurance and other vocations, ingraining in them the virtues of hard work, dedication and service. He bred a crop of talent, many of whom graduated from his “IGI Academy” and then progressed to top-drawer positions in the insurance industry and allied businesses.
With Remi in the pilot seat, IGI soared to the N1billion mark in premium income in 1996, thus becoming the biggest private insurance company in Nigeria in terms of volume of business after only four years in operation. IGI raised the status of Nigeria in the international insurance market by winning the prestigious Euromarket Award twice in succession in 1999 and 2002 and in 2002
Ever the pace-setter, Remi led the foray of insurance companies into offshore operations when, under his leadership, IGI Plc won a World Bank-supervised bid for a core investor for the state-owned National Insurance Corporation of Kampala, Uganda in 2005. This acquisition made IGI the first Nigerian insurance company to operate offshore, and is currently one of the largest Nigerian investments in any sector in East Africa. IGI Plc has since established its foothold in other African companies including Rwanda, and The Gambia.
A warm and generous soul with an infectious charm and vivacity, Remi was a philanthropist par-excellence. He was reputed for his immense financial support for educational institutions, community development programmes, youth empowerment and sports promotion. His life-long passion for and personal commitment to the development of sports became an integral part of his business philosophy. Remi made IGI the country’s most sports-friendly insurance company, and a valued partner of the Federal as well as State Governments in the development of sports at the community, state and national levels. For example in 1996, IGI sponsored the training of star athlete, Chioma Ajunwa, who later clinched Nigeria’s first-ever Olympic Gold Medal. The company also committed millions of naira yearly on the promotion and development of Football, Golf, Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis and other sports.  It is little wonder then that IGI has remained the Official Insurer of all the five National Football teams (Super Eagles, Flying Eagles, Falcons Under-23, and Under-17).
Remi’s deep personal interest and involvement in youth development is remarkable. He was the founding Chairman of the National Collegiate Sports Foundation (NCSF), a private sector-led initiative which was established in 1998 with a national mandate to restore glory to school sports.  The NCSF, under the leadership of Remi, organized several sports activities among secondary schools, including the maiden edition of the first Shell Cup for All Nigerian Secondary Schools Competition in 1998-1999 as well as the Nestle Milo Secondary Schools Basketball Championship from 1999 to date. 
Remi was also the Chairman, NYSC Foundation, an independent national initiative created by former NYSC members and public-spirited Nigerians with the aim of sourcing funds to help sustain the noble ideals of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. 
At the community level, Remi built the Joseph Olaniyan Olowude Primary School in his hometown, Inisa-Ejigbo and continued to provide personal financial support for secondary and tertiary institutions across Nigeria.  In May 2006, he donated a 60million multi-purpose Hall to Bowen University Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria. He was the Patron of the most prestigious social and philanthropic club in Ejigbo and environs – The Ejigbo Eagles Club. He was single-handedly responsible for the payment of salaries of the PTA teachers in Ajoda Comprehensive High School in Ejigbo.  He also donated some medical equipment to the government of the State of Osun and the Baptist Medical Centre, Ejigbo. He also built an information center for technology for Crescent University, Abeokuta. 
He donated a modern Church for his hometown as well as an electricity infrastructure. He was also a major contributor to building the modern sanctuary of Ikoyi Baptist Church, Lagos. In addition to his generous contributions to major development projects in churches regardless of denominations, he also sponsored various ventures of the Rotary International Lions Club, other non-governmental groups in the Lagos area and in other parts of the country.    
In recognition of his selfless roles in uplifting the living standards of the people, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, conferred on Remi the illustrious award of Distinguished Omoluabi and named him as an eminent member of the State of Osun Hall of Fame in 2012. He was conferred with the title of Babalaje of Iruland by His Royal Majesty, the Oniru of Iruland for his community development in Victoria Island. He was conferred with many chieftaincy titles in Abeokuta and Igbo land but Remi preferred to be referred to as simply “Mr”.
Remi received other multiple individual awards and honours during his life time from corporate organization both inside and outside Nigeria in recognition of his valuable social responsibility efforts. Among them are, Fellow, Kwara State Polytechnic, Offa – 1998; Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International – 1999; Fellow, Lagos State Polytechnic – 2002; Recipient Euromarket Award for Enterprise – 2000; Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) – 2006; Doctor of Science (DSc) in Business Administration, Crescent University – 2010.; ;.
Remi also sat on the boards of several top-notch companies that cut across insurance, banking, health management, telecommunications, environment management, engineering and construction, amongst others. He was the immediate past Chairman of Nigeria Insurers Association, (NIA); Chairman, National Insurance Corporation (NIC), Kampala, Uganda; Co-Chairman, Sonarwa Holding, Kigali, Rwanda; Chairman, IGI Gamstar Insurance Company, Banjul, The Gambia; Chairman, Monarch Communications Limited; Chairman, Global Trust Savings and Loans, Limited; Deputy Chairman, International Health & Management Services Limited; Chairman, Discovery Medical & Scientific Services Limited; Chairman, Chairman, Perfect Structures Limited.
He was also a Member of the Governing Council of Osun State University and Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State.
In addition to being a patently industrious professional and an entrepreneur with incredible zeal, Remi was also very dedicated to his family.  He was a magnificent man who was passionate about ensuring that his immediate and extended family was close knit. Remi could be described as a loving husband, a devoted father, a kind brother and a true and dependable friend. He married his beautiful heartthrob, Olubunmi (nee Akitunde), a professional Laboratory Technologist, on April 28, 1979 in Lagos. Remi, alongside his amiable wife, was a strong pillar of support for their four lovely children – Mofoluwaso, Folasade, Olubukola and Andrew, his son-laws – Olaleye  & Gbenga and his grandchild, Simisola. Remi nurtured his family passionately and was instrumental in the milestones that each child achieved. 
National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Dangote, Ex Gov Osoba/Adebayo at the historic burial of late V.Chairman, Industrial and General Insurance plc (IGI) Chief Remi Olowude, ...

No doubt Mr Olowude lived like king and was buried as one, as attested to the high and mighty that attended his burial,in Lagos on 24th October 2014-it was roll call of who is who in the Country


 No doubt he is dead but he lives on
CERUTTI M OSAGIE, can be reached on


  1. Thanks for sharing. I have been fascinated by this man's life, which I heard about only after his passing. Glad to know such men lived close by.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I have been fascinated by this man's life, which I heard about only after his passing. Glad to know such men lived close by.


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