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How we raised Insurance College to enviable height –Dr Oyetayo, former Rector

By Henry Uche

On assumption of office as the pioneer Rector of the College of Insurance and Financial Management (CIFM) on April  7, 2014, Dr Yeside Oyetayo, took the bull by the horn to project the institution as a citedal of knowledge, a vision she accomplished. before exiting office

In this interview with Daily Sun, the insurance expert said she took the mantle of leadership when the college had no fund nor structure on ground. At that time, the college was operating from the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria’s (CIIN’s) building at Ebute-metta, yet she was able to make something out of nothing. Proudly enough, her legacies are loud and solid for her successor, Dr Chizoba Ehiogu, to build on, even as she moves on to break new grounds for the advancement of insurance business in Nigeria.


What  we met on ground in 2014?

When I assumed duty at the CIFM, the College did not have any structures on ground. The campus was still under construction and there was neither an administrative plan nor a solid academic arrangement in place. The College was only running a few short-term technical courses and the Agency Proficiency workshops annually at different locations but mainly at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Alausa, Ikeja. Not much was heard about the College, as it had no visibility within the insurance industry.

It was like start-up business for me. But I began the pace setting and trail brazing task of putting together a world class institution providing cutting edge training of global standards together with partners locally and internationally.

At inception, it was very scary considering the College had no funds in its account, and my Board was able to solicit a take-off grant of N20million from the CIIN. This was barely enough to furnish and run the office. We had to find a way to drastically increase revenue through training and it was not surprising that within a couple months of  my assumption, we developed the curriculum for five programmes which were approved by the Governing Council of the CIIN for the College among which was the Diploma in Insurance and Graduate Induction. We commenced the promotion of our programmes and movement to the campus in January 2015 to facilitate the commencement of the Diploma in Insurance Programme. 

Today, five insurance companies nominated students and the maiden Diploma Programme commenced in January 2015. Our faculty was drawn from the pool of skilled and passionate trainers in the academia and the industry. 

We had also designed a more robust training calendar introducing training programmes in areas where skill gaps were identified.

We simultaneously commenced the task of getting the College registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and creating a brand for the College leveraging on CIIN by programmes which served as a platform to sensitise the industry about College activities. 

Within a year of moving to campus, (Km 40, Lagos Ibadan Expressway, Oloke Toro, By Asese, Ogun State), we commenced and successfully graduated the students of the Maiden Diploma in Insurance Programme, we began collaborative training with the ILO Impact Insurance Facility and GIZ, we furnished and commissioned the College, organised short-term training programmes that more than doubled the number and income in the previous years. In the first year of operating as a College, we achieved a lot so much that members of the Board were amazed at the number of activities that were going on in the College

What we left on ground

To the glory of God, the CIFM has really grown tremendously. From operating under the Training Directorate in the CIIN Secretariat to a full fledged College, it has moved from an annual income of N20million in 2014 to about N290million in 2022. Similarly, from three unfurnished buildings to seven fully furnished accommodation and office space which include a 1500-seater hall, surely, we are doing exceedingly great, and we remain auspicious.

Academics and other programmes of the College

I can boldly say that the College has been pivotal to human capacity development in the insurance industry in Nigeria and indeed Africa since I joined in 2014. This was achieved through a conscious effort at corporate branding and pursuing the vision of the College which is ‘To be the Insurance College of Choice in Africa’. I am proud of the academic development of the College rising from two programmes in 2014, to five in 2015 and twelve training programmes in 2022, which speak to the training needs of all cadres within the industry from insurance agents to directors of insurance firms.

The CIFM is the only institution authorised by NAICOM to provide mandatory certification for Bancassurance Officers and Retiree Life Annuity Officers in the industry. We collaborated with the Commission to develop a rich curriculum for these programmes. This is aside the Agency Proficiency Workshops we organise on behalf of the CIIN our parent body for insurance agents.

We also have training programmes offered jointly with international organisations such as the ILO Impact Insurance Facility and ILO Certified Microinsurance and Inclusive Insurance Trainers. These are local facilitators who were trained and became certified during my tenure under the CIFM platform. We are the first and only insurance institution in the whole of Africa till date that has achieved this feat.

We have also held collaborative training with GIZ and Actuaries Without Borders (AWB) to mention a few and the College has also been the external examiner of Insurance Training Institute for over three years now, a testament to the quality of our academic services.

In the last four years the CIFM conducted two major research which were sponsored by the CIIN and the College. We assembled a research team consisting of members for the academia and the industry who worked together to enrich the results of our research. The first was a skill audit aimed at identifying the skill gaps in the industry. The second investigated the provision of inclusive insurance products to MSMEs as a means of solving some of the mortality problems of these enterprises while also increasing the penetration figures of the industry. Results and recommendations of thes research would contribute immensely to the talent management and the penetration levels of the industry if applied effectively.

We are also involved in the actuarial skill development initiatives in the industry. The CIFM under my tenure influenced the NAICOM Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) Scholarship which today has six qualifiers. We are also a part of the UNDP funded initiative with Milliman.

Finally, we are about to commence the CIFM International Journal of Insurance and Management Sciences. The editors have been appointed for this peer reviewed journal which is to support the academic pursuits of the College.

Rating the College with peers across Africa

I would say the College is one of the top three insurance Colleges in Africa going by our achievements and the quality of our services and training.

Major challenge of your tenure

The major challenge I faced during my tenure was the attitude of the industry towards non-mandatory training programmes. It was quite frustrating to identify skill gaps, develop training curriculum and organise workshops to boost human capital development only to have a few companies nominate staff to attend. We practically plead with learning and development officers and HR staff to get nominations for these workshops. Ironically, results of the Skill Audit Research we conducted for the CIIN in 2021 revealed that personnel within the Nigerian insurance industry understand the importance of training in their skill acquisition and career development, but often do not get nominated for the training. Nonetheless, we do have some companies that take staff training seriously.

How do we tackle this care- less attitude by operators who fail turn up for capacity building?

We just have to continue to sensitize them on the importance of skilling, Reskilling and Upskilling of employees. On the other hand one can work on securing scholarships for insurance professionals like it was done with the NAICOM CAA Scholarship.

Your happiest moment

Smiles… During my nine and half years of service, some of my happy moments include:  •The movement of the College from the CIIN Secretariat to its campus in Oloke Torotoro in Asese, Ogun State.

•The commencement and successful completion, and graduation of students of the maiden Diploma in Insurance Programme in 2015.

•The commencement of international training workshops (ILO and GIZ) in the College with participants from different parts of Africa in July 2015.

•The Commissioning of the College in 2015.

•Nomination as part of the entourage of the CIIN President to visit the then Vice President in Aso Rock ahead of the first Insurance Conference in Abuja.

•The appointment of the College as the certifying institution for Bancassurance in 2017. 

•Nomination of the College by NAICOM in 2019 to organise mandatory training for directors of insurance companies tagged ‘Insurance Directors’ Conference’ .

•Numerous recognitions and accolades received for the CIFM both locally and in the African continent.

•Selection as one of the top 50 women in insurance in Africa.

•Nomination in April 2023 to represent the College at the UNDP sponsored training on Climate and Disaster Risk Financing (CDRF) in Cape Town, South Africa, and

•A lot more that I cannot begin to list here.

How College can meet human capital requirement of Insurance Industry

The CIFM brand that was built during my tenure is indisputably known for the quality of its training. We have continuously raised the bar in human capital development in the Nigerian insurance industry. We do not just organise training programmes on our own but work with all the stakeholders within the industry to determine skill gaps and design appropriate training programmes and initiatives. We are lucky to have international organisations partner with us on this journey. As a matter of fact, most of these organisations approach us based on the reputation we have built as a reliable partner in the human capital development initiatives in the Nigerian insurance industry.

For instance, gaps in actuarial and underwriting skills were identified in our skill audit research and we have been part of several initiatives on actuarial development even before the research. We initiated discussions with various stakeholders in this regard and we succeeded in getting NAICOM to sponsor the CAA (Certified Actuarial Analyst) Scholarship which provided sponsorship for staff of regulated insurance organisations for CAA exams, tutorials, and study materials. We have at least six qualifying students on the programme and CIFM has been the implementing partner for the project. Currently the CIFM is part of the actuarial development initiatives being sponsored by UNDP in Nigeria.   

Graduates from our Diploma in Insurance Programme are making waves in the industry after because they are so well grounded that they complete their professional examinations within a year of graduation.

We also continuously organise graduate induction programmes for organisations that request for such. Preparing non-insurance graduates for a successful career in insurance.

We also conducted research that supported not only the skill development but also market penetration to enable the industry grow to its full capacity.

Any regrets?

Honestly, I have no regrets. I came with a lot of passion and desire to make a difference. When I look back at the last nine and half years, I can only give thanks to God. As I say often, the CIFM was a project handed to me by God and that is why with all sense of humility, we have been able to build this enviable legacy- the leadership of which I am happy to hand over to my successor. It has not been a bed of roses, but I will forever thank God for this opportunity of a lifetime.

Secondly, I have been blessed with a very dynamic Council and Board that supported this brand that we all are proud of. They sourced funding, developed strategic plans, and pursued the CIFM project with so much dedication. Without mincing words, the insurance industry contributed immensely to the infrastructural development of the College through the donation of equipment, generator, sponsorship of buildings and chalets which provided rapid growth on campus.

The NAICOM, Insurance firms, professionals and members of the CIIN Council rallied round the CIFM. It was often said that the College was the future of the CIIN. I am cocksure everyone is proud to say the CIFM is their college!

Furthermore, I met wonderful people, great minds, and made very dependable and lasting friends that continue to impact my career and personal life.

This is not forgetting the numerous trainers and facilitators local and international, within and outside the insurance industry that worked tirelessly with me on this journey. They supported my desire for excellence, ethical standards, and integrity. I couldn’t have been able to deliver all these training without them. I also worked with a great and passionate team who gave their body, heart, and soul to the College. It was a great honour to work with a group of very young people, many of whom were just starting off their lives and career. We worked so hard and closed late very often trying to achieve our dreams for the College. Thus, we all stayed on campus together during the week. Oftentimes, work felt like the extension of home for me because of the time we spend together at work and the way we related with each other guided by our civility code. Everyone is important so we do not look or talk down on any staff. Honestly, in as much as I have tried to inspire every member of my team with whom I have shared happy moments and challenging times, they have also impacted me positively and I hold fond memories of all the members of my team. I was sometimes not only their CEO but also their spiritual leader especially when nominations were not coming, and our targets are not met!!!. 

The CIFM platform afforded me the opportunity to impact positively on the African continent through my membership African Association of Insurance Educators and Trainers (AAIET) and the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) Book Review Committee. 

I have no regrets whatsoever because I am the trail brazing and pacesetting pioneer Rector of the College of Insurance and Financial Management. To the glory of God, I am leaving a solid legacy that would endure for a very long time.

Five years projection

In the next five years, I see the CIFM expand the scope of its services beyond Africa and growing into the global insurance college of choice that we envisioned it to be. 

What charge you u giving your successor?

To keep the flag flying and take the CIFM to even greater heights.

Where are you heading to/ what do stakeholders in the industry expect from you going forward?

I hope to remain within the Nigerian and indeed African insurance industry to offer my skills and experience while I pursue my ambition to become a professor of insurance law in the not too distant future by the Grace of God’.