Seventy years ago in the pristine agrarian town of Ago- Iwoye, in the present Ijebu North Local Government of Ogun State, little was it known that a baby boy born into the royal family of the Soyewos would someday grow to become the succorer of many, a fountain of joy and literally a salt that would sweeten the lives of hordes of people that would come his way, not just in his immediate environment, but also in the entire world.
Born by an ageing father with five other wives before his mother, it was distressing enough that Feyisayo could not enjoy the full benefits of his father’s strength and vigor growing up. He actually lost the benefit of fatherhood quite early, as he had barely completed his primary school before his dad deceased at the age of 95.
Although the death of papa left a big hollow in the little heart of Feyisayo, he was greatly succored by his mother, who was providentially blessed with the gift of old age. His early life odyssey was buoyed by his sparkling brilliance while in school, making it possible for him to earn several scholarship awards that complemented the strides of his mother to see him become successful in life. Mama died recently at the ripe age of 100. With this, it was as if the Almighty God compensated Feyisayo for his early deprivation of fatherly care and affection.
From the start of life throughout these past 70 years, it is not out of place to aver that the life of Prince Soyewo fits squarely into the inquisition of the famous Garth Nix, who gave the poser: “Does the walker chose the path or the path the walker?” As pencil in the hand of the maker, the life of Prince Soyewo has been a testimonial of God’s providence, as he lived the fullness of days as an insurance professional of class, a community and religious leader, as well as an unquestionably fine mind.
Although Prince Soyewo is a man of many parts, having contemplated becoming a pharmacist while growing up, he has today stamped his most significant footprints in the profession of insurance broking where he joined many early professionals and great minds to path-find what has today become the trajectory of growth and sustenance of the insurance industry, generally.
Surely, there is no way the annals of the insurance profession and insurance broking would be written in Nigeria, without a conspicuous space allotted to the sterling contributions and unselfish devotion of this “princely insurance professional” and proud son of Ago Iwoye. He has without a doubt acquitted himself as one of the most distinguished and pragmatic professionals to head the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers till date as President.
The entire membership of the Council and the insurance industry hold Prince (Dr) Soyewo in high esteem, based on the invaluable contributions and landmark feats which he recorded while steering the rudder of the Council as President. Bold and highly courageous, Prince Soyewo did everything within his whims to challenge all obstacles which could have militated against the growth, independence and sustenance of the Council, turning them all to stepping stones for the Council’s great accomplishments. With these sterling feats, his name is today written in gold in the hall of NCRIB’s respected past presidents and “Living Ancestors”.
Prince Soyewo as the 12th President of the NCRIB championed the Charter status for the Council, changing its narrative from a mere “collaboration of insurance broking professionals” that it was for many years, to a chartered professional body that could hold its head high in the comity of other professional institutions in Nigerian and abroad. On assumption of office, Prince Soyewo like a US war time General, Delano Roosevelt, identified with clear sight the mandate that must be accomplished and went all out to ensure that the Council earned the respect it deserves through the NCRIB Act, which happily was signed into law by then President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR. This unequalled feat earned Soyewo the sobriquet “NCRIB Charter President”. Although the passage and early implementation of the Act was fraught with strong institutional challenges and resistance, particularly from the then National Insurance Commission, the doggedness and tenacity of purpose of Prince Soyewo came as the magic needed for the Council to roundly win the legal cases instituted to challenge the Brokers’ law, both at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court which finally affirmed the beautiful Act.
Buoyed by the victory of the NCRIB Act, Prince Soyewo relentlessly chatted clear paths for the Council with reputable institutions and government agencies as he rallied members to pay strategic courtesy visits to those institutions to shed light on the beautiful and resourceful profession of Insurance Broking. Of course, the image of the Council inched up significantly as indexed by a spike in quality membership registration with the Council. With increase in the numerical strength came the need to create more Chapters to expand the horizon of practice by the emerging number of operators. It is on record that the Abuja Area Committee and the Lagos Area Committee came into existence through the vision and dynamic motives of Prince Dr. Soyewo.
He also saw the need to fortify intra-insurance industry relationship with such institutions as the CIIN, the NIA and ILAN, without compromising the rising profile and status of its members. The same vigour was put into relationship with international insurance bodies such as Association of Insurance Brokers AIBA (an associate institution of the AIO) of which he later became Chairman and made an impressionable mark. Indeed, Prince Soyewo’s era could be termed a golden era in the annals of the Council.
It is to the credit of the princely and debonair Past President that he has remained passionately committed to the unity and progress of the Council, even during daunting challenges, always making himself available to give stoic support and valuable counsel to all his successors who desired and value it. An adroit crisis manager and quintessential professional, Prince Soyewo has continually enriched the Governing Board of the Council and its numerous members with his infallible emotional intelligence and jokes which are always suffused with timeless wisdom. Outside the insurance circles, Prince Soyewo is a philanthropist of note and a man with noble spirit who has affected his immediate community, Ago Iwoye, and entire humanity.
Little wonder the Federal Government under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, considered him worthy for conferment of the prestigious national honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR). Prince Soyewo would continue to be a source of inspiration to many younger fellows and upcoming professionals many of whom he gave tremendous back up to find their feat in life. Considering his abundant grace of grit, diplomacy and social relations skills, finding a pathway in politics was not a difficult task. Although he may not have been endowed with the required DNA to stand an elective position, Soyewo has worked behind the scene to ensure the rise of many prominent political players and leaders across the strata, with his main focus on good governance and orderly society.
Since there is a wise saying that the whole world often rise in celebrating any man who lives unselfishly for the world, it would not be a surprise that the events lined up to mark the landmark birthday of the iconic Prince Soyewo in his Ago-Iwoye town would attract multitudes of persons from different walks of life, each of whom would have a specific reason to rejoice and felicitate a man who in one way or the other has etched in their hearts an indelible mark of love, compassion and friendliness.
Tope Adaramola is the
Deputy Executive Secretary of NCRIB