Asiwaju Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole: Steering LCCI To New Heights

Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON, MFR, stands tall as an accomplished businessman boasting an intimidating profile. The distinguished business mogul is the Founder of Colenson Group of Companies, a conglomerate that proudly spreads its tentacles across insurance, consultancy, real estate, oil, and gas, among others.

A two-time Commissioner in Lagos State, Olawale-Cole, owing to his glowing resume filled with remarkable achievements in December 2021 was elected President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

An Alumnus of the prestigious University of Lagos; University of Cambridge; South West London College; the All Saints University of America and Harvard Business School, USA, the illustrious businessman also served as President of the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC); Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM); University of Lagos Alumni Association and a former District Governor of Rotary for District 9110.

Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole was born on August 24th, 1949, to his mother, an Awori from a ruling house in Isolo, and father who worked for West African Airways. He was bred in Lagos, Nigeria. Worthy of note, his brother is the reigning Oba of Ojota Kingdom – Oba Olawale-Cole.

Asiwaju Micheal Olawale-Cole studied Accounting at the University of Lagos. He launched his professional career with Total Oil as an Account manager, but after just a year, his undiluted thirst for knowledge led him to England for further studies – it was while there, he met his now-wife, a daughter to the late Chief Amzat Adebowale.

A one-time Commissioner for Finance, later, works, Lagos State, past District Governor of Rotary Club International, President of the prestigious Lagos Alumni Association, and President of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole has in no small measure proved himself an influential voice in leadership.

As commissioner for finance, Lagos State, he increased the internally generated revenue whereby it hit 1 billion in his first year. He also re-organizes the internal revenue department which was in charge of taxes in Lagos State. That alone, doubled the income met on ground. Today the internal growth rate (IGR) of the state is in multiple billions. Ever one to stay true to his core values, he admits his rotary background helps keep him in check, making sure his integrity and image remain intact.

Also as proof of his influential leadership, as the Commissioner for Works and Transport in the state, he initiated the repair of roads at night, especially in areas where there was heavy traffic such as Ikeja and Lagos Island. The Daily Times, full of praise ran a cover page story about it making the headline “Ghosts now repaired roads in Lagos State” this was because nobody saw the people that were working on the roads.

As an entrepreneur, Asiwaju Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole started his first company, an insurance brokerage firm, in 1983 which he started from his savings gotten from his salary while working with the Lever brothers. After resigning he went into a full-time business.

A humanitarian at heart, his journey as a Rotarian began in 1989 when he joined the club while still working with Lever brothers Nigeria. He served as president of the Rotary Club of Isolo between 1983 and 1984. The Rotary center in Ikeja, Lagos, was built during his tenure as district governor.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, elected Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole on 4th December 2021 as its 24th President to steer the ship of the Chamber for the next two years.

There is no question that the emergence of Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale Cole as President of the Chamber is an icing of some sorts on his outstanding life and career as a consummate public administrator, entrepreneur, Insurance Broking adept, humanist, community leader, and politician.

There is undoubtedly no way the biography of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) which is the collective for Insurance Broking professionals in Nigeria would be written without a conspicuous chapter devoted to the niche of Asiwaju Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole. At a period when the Council was seeking more relevance and brand presence, Asiwaju as the 10th President gave the desired vitality to its aspirations.

Records reveal that it was during his term that the Council conceived several ambitions that have been institutionalized in the Council to date. Among others, he took the first step in setting the pathway for a glamorous investiture ceremony to draw the attention of those that matter in the society to the Council.

This was accomplished at his investiture held at the Airport Hotel Ikeja, where the very best in the society were present. Engraving on his management initiatives, the revered pioneer scribe of the Council, Dr. Remi Alo noted that Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole came to lead the Council at a time when the challenges of globalization and how to affirm with it by professionals were bogging. He noted that with adroit leadership skills, he helped the Council to wade through.

It was also noted that during his term, the now popular “Brokers Evening” of the Council was conceived as a bi-monthly bridge-
building platform between Insurance Underwriters and Brokers. The inaugural edition was hosted by the defunct Unic Insurance Co. Ltd under the leadership of Nimbe Oviosu. In terms of the NCRIB law, although Asiwaju assisted to lay the preliminaries and huddled the fragments, the vision for the NCRIB Act materialized under the presidency of High Chief Prosper Okpue and Prince Dr. Feyisayo Soyewo.

The Council will also not forget in a hurry the Council’s strategic business and international adventurism toward such institutions as the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA). He also foretold the erection of a befitting secretariat complex for the Council, which later materialized fully under Dr. Teslim Sanusi and Barr. Laide Osijo.

As expected, the emergence of Asiwaju has been met with great enthusiasm amongst members of the Chamber, where he has held strategic leadership positions such as Deputy President, Vice President, and Chairpersons of several other Committees. The excitement amongst Insurance Brokers is more exemplified in the message of felicitations forwarded to him by the Council’s President, Mr. Rotimi Edu, mni. Edu expressed confidence that he has earned the required pedigree as an astute insurance professional to give strong and progressive leadership to the Chamber.

Although it should not be lost on anyone that a great task beckons as President of the famous LCCI, more so that the nation’s economy has regrettably remained stagnant, putting huge operational challenges on operators who are significant members of the Chamber, there is no question that Asiwaju Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole, like a popular navigator that he is, is also a follower of the legendary Benjamin Distraeli, who posited that “the secret of great leaders is that they are prepared before their time”. He has all the seasoning needed for the position and it is hoped that the entire insurance industry would most notably take advantage of this great product of the profession to forge more effective synergy with the organized private sector through the LCCI, to catalyze its dreams of deepening insurance acceptance in the country.     

A highly focused and diligent man, Asiwaju Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole’s odyssey could be likened to a man who, though unwittingly, lived by the popular Japanese principle of “Kaizen” which infuses “constant and never-ending improvement in man”, making him soar unfettered in life and career.