ABUJA – Former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof Joe Irukwu, is dead. He died at the age of 89.
A statement by Prince Harrison Eze Okorie, President General, Amaokwe Item Welfare Union, said: “The Amaokwe Item Welfare Union on behalf of entire Amaba Ukwu kindred and the immediate family hereby announce the glorious but painful demise of our great patron, father, grandfather, son and brother, Prof (Chief)Joseph Ogbonnaya Irukwu, SAN, CFR.
“The Union on behalf Amaokwe Community, commiserates with the family and prays to God to grant his soul peaceful rest.
“The Union enjoins all Amaokwe sons and daughters to mourn the exit of this giant as we also remember to uphold his family in prayers in this moment of grief.”
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Irukwu, a lawyer, lecturer, author and insurance guru, was the founding managing director of Nigerian Reinsurance Corporation.
He founded African Development Insurance Company thereafter, which was later sold to Diamond Bank.
Irukwu obtained a degree in Law and Insurance from a British university in 1962. Upon returning to Nigeria, he took employment with West African Provincial Insurance Company, a British firm operating out of Lagos. Originally, a legal adviser, he rose within the firm and joined the managerial cadre of the firm’s insurance department in 1965.
In 1970, he was appointed chief executive officer of Unity Life and Fire Insurance Company and it was while working at Unity that his profile began to rise. In 1972, the government appointed him head of the student loans board, a committee with the responsibility to disburse loans to thousands of students.
In 1977, Irukwu became the pioneer chief executive of Nigerian Reinsurance Corporation, a government owned business established to increase the local share of reinsurance premium income. Prior to the establishment of the firm, insurance firms in Nigeria, conducted reinsurance transactions with foreign companies.
To boost the local insurance market and reduce foreign exchange out-flow, the government founded Nigerian Re. The new firm was given the right of first refusal for any reinsurance transaction to be conducted in Nigeria. One of Irukwu’s main challenges was to recruit and train talent in a line of business that was new to Nigeria. The firm engaged foreign institutions in the training of workers and sponsored a training school in Lagos.
Irukwu published his first book, Insurance Law and Practice in Nigeria in 1967 and his second book, Accident and Motor Insurance in West Africa was published in 1974. His third book, Insurance Management in Africa was published in 1976.