Monday, June 6, 2022


A lady of class and panache, Lady Isioma Chuwuma, a past President of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) and only female Managing Director of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation. She has represented the industry and her family admirably well. In celebration of this woman of substance on her 70th birthday, I thought it expedient to bring again to the fore the piece I wrote on her during her glorious retirement from Nigeria Re as Managing Director. Enjoy and take more peep into this life of purpose: 
The Nigerian insurance industry, without a doubt, is blessed with the finest crops of professionals and good heads one could think of around. This is obviously against the notion of many, especially those who are often eager to benchmark the depth of insurance operators with their ilks in banking and others in the financial ecosystem. Such persons often forget that the intricacies of insurance and the seasoning that is required to become professionally certified is quite rigorous and could only be matched by few professions.
A testament to this becomes apparent when attention is intently paid to some few outstanding professionals in the risk management profession, some of who have made impressionable impact on the industry and national economy. As an annalist, this writer is of strong persuasion that adequate light had not been paid to the industry’s good heads, causing their low appreciation by the public as well as the industry they represent. 
One personae that could be described as a “silent labourer” and iconic figure in Nigeria’s insurance space is Lady Isioma Chukwuma; the just retired Managing Director of Nigerian Reinsurance Corporation. She was also a past President of the Chartered Insurance Institute of which she is the 5th Female President after the likes of Mrs Erelu Aina; Mrs Comfort Rowaiye; and Mrs. Seyi Ifatoroti. Chukwuma, like these other heroines of the insurance profession strived to brave the odds in a male dominated profession, changing the leadership narrative, gender wise. It is most news worthy that Chukwuma retired from the headship of Nigerian Reinsurance Corporation after serving from March 18, 2009 till date. On introspection, Nigeria Re was the nation’s flagship reinsurance company through which the likes of great minds like Professor Joe Irukwu, Sir Ogala Osoka and Mr Trinity Mirilla became industry household names. 
In the words of American veteran General, Mark Arthur, “Old soldeirs never die, they fade away”, I am inclined to flip this saying “Professionals do not die, or retire, they only fade away”. Even though Chukwuma may have witnessed an eclipse in her work career in the industry she would remain invaluably constant in rendering value and good will to the industry for a long time to come. Her footprints on the Chartered Insurance Industry (CIIN) and the reinsurance world would remain etched in the minds of those who had the privilege of working and consorting with her. Issy, as she is often called by childhood friends is a testimonial of the wise saying that “whatever the mind can conceive, it could achieve”. Her foray into the industry could be said to be providential going by the fact that she studied French in her first degree, graduating with an enviable second class upper division from the University of Ibadan in 1978. A proud indigene of Asaba in Delta State, Lady Chukwuma had immediate post-graduation experience as a school teacher where she ostensibly got infused with the virtues of humility, diligence and super relatiosioner skill that made her a good follower and an admirable boss. Her inroad into the field of insurance was in 1980 when she was employed amongst a few Graduate Trainees in Nigeria Re. In spite of her non numerate discipline, Lady Chukwuma through dint of hard work, tenacity of purpose and hard work braced the odds by sitting for and passing the Chartered Insurance Institute of London examinations qualifying for the prestigious Associateship of the Institute. This open the door for her meteoric rise through several strategic departments of the company such as Marketing, Accident, Clients Services Property and Overseas Inward Department. 
On the side of the CIIN, it is not just share providence that Lady Chukwuma became a female President. She assiduously worked for it through her unselfish devotion to the course of the Institute for more than 16 years of serving on the Governing Council which is the highest organ of the Institute. She had untainted records as Chairman of the Fire Offices Committee; Chairman of the Governing Board that oversaw the founding of the now renowned College of Insurance and Financial Management and the Mandatory Continuous Professional Development Committee. Chukwuma also left her sound footprints as member of the Activities and Education Committee from where she became Treasurer and Deputy President. It could be remembered that on assumption of office as President, Lady Chukwuma put forward an 11-point agenda which served as the trajectory for her value delivery in office. Without trying to rehash all the agenda points, it is on record that some milestones such as the entrenchment of the Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC) which is the amalgamation of the different sectoral voices of the insurance industry was accomplished. Aside from becoming the voice of the industry and rallying point for settlement of professional differences that may arise amongst operators, the Committee has inched up the image of the industry in the eyes of the public through its yearly high profile conference. Similarly, the Institute under her tenure expanded the scope of the CIIN examinations to include Insurance Broking and Loss Adjusting. The tenure also made an inroad into the federal and state civil service in the placement of insurance professional certificates holders appropriately in terms of employment in the service while at the same time positioned the College of Insurance and Financial Management to the status of a world class professional training institution. 
Since leadership in the view of J.C Maxwell is influence and connection with the led, Lady Chukwuma’s life and leadership style has continued to attract the fancy of many professional within and outside the industry. Apart from permanently etching her name in roll of honours of the insurance industry, the kind words and compliments showered on her at the exit of a glorious career cannot be repressed. In what seemed an encapsulation of the plaudits, the President of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Mr Rotimi Edu, mni, said “on reflections, Lady Chukwuma brought class, humility and panache to the institute and the industry to the extent that she is a testament of an ideal woman in leadership. She utilized her tenure and position and chequered years in the industry to strengthen the bond of relationship amongst operators. We can only wish her well on this great day as she joins the proud league of the septuagenarians

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