Tuesday, December 19, 2023


Although she departed this side of eternity 365 days  ago, the entire insurance industry, both within and outside Nigeria, are still smarting from the demise of Dr Tonia Smart, former President of the Professional Insurance Ladies Association and one of the heroines of the insurance profession in Nigeria. 
In alignment with the biblical saying that sweet is the memory of the righteous, the trail of the good works and infallible imprints of Late Dr Tonia Smart on the sands of time and history have continued to trail her even in death. Aside from the admirable husband, Mr Tope Smart, Chairman of NEM Insurance Plc, who has had to contend with the twist of faith by taking succour in the all-knowing powers of the Almighty who gives and takes unquestionably, colleagues and professional colleagues have continued to rue her untimely exit particularly when her services and devotion were  most needed.  
Recalling the sad event about a year ago, news of the demise of the ebullient Tonia Smart hit the insurance space like a thunderbolt in the wind, more so that she never seemed a candidate of early death. Prior to her death, 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 she died at the unripe age of 57.
There is no doubt that Dr Tonia Smarts 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  always gave 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 has continued to miss her resourcefulness as a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute, marker of the CIIN exams and teacher. On the international plane, her position as the ambassador of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is yet to be filled. It is noteworthy that Dr Tonias  dream of talking the Professional Insurance Ladies Association to the continental plane nurtured under her tenure crystallised at the conference of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) in Algeria,when the General Assembly of the AIO granted the continental recognition to PILA under the aegis of African Insurance Women Association (AIWA). Painfully, though Dr Smart was not physically present, her immortal spirit would be delighted on the great accomplishment. 
The deceaseds foray into the insurance industry is without a doubt a study in career fluidity. Though she graduated in Chemistry and holds a Masters Degree in the same discipline from the University of Lagos through which she was a one time Science Reporter with the 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 in quick succession.
Having horned her professional skills from Hogg Robinson Nigeria and later Capital Express Insurance Company Ltd as a Business Development Manager, Mrs Smarts 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 fish 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 States 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).
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.
In a bid to memorialise the noble and affective life of Dr Tonia Smart one year after, family members and hordes of well wishers would be congregating on The Redeemed Christian Church, Banana Island, Ikoyi Lagos, to moderately celebrate the life of the iconic personality, offering praises to God for a well spent life, while many would glean unimpeachable wisdom about how to life their lives for impact on this side of eternity.
May the Almighty God continue to grant the soul of Dr Tonia Smart repose. Amen.   

Tope Adaramola is the Executive Secretary/CEO of
The Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers

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