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WAII Celebrates 29 and 30

Jul 15, 2008, 7:06 AM | Article By: By Augustine Kanjia

The West African Insurance Institute set up some 30 years ago recently celebrated their 30th anniversary and their 29th graduation ceremony at the Jerma Beach Hotel.

Dr. Prince Mike Ikupolati, the Director General of WAII awarded 20 influencial and hard working personnel in insurance and outside it. Insurance, in the face of developing economy in the sub region is vital and had been thoughtful by those who set it up for the region some 30 years ago. It was built in Liberia's capital Monrovia and had flourished there until when their war raged and they had to evacuate and a peaceful place named to be transferred there and that is The Gambia. Before coming to The Gambia, a lot of prominent people have passed through their hands. The institute is here and striving to meet the insurance needs of it member states. Society and Development chief picks the rest of the story.

The occasion was graced by His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone who happens to be one of the first students of WAII while in Liberia and President Jammeh the host.

Little did many know that Insurance would have dominion over business and lives but the visionaries knew it would go beyond what it had started with in those days. President Koroma came with other ministers who had attended the Institute including his Trade and Industry Minister. WAII had everything in place to welcome the visiting president and his entourage.

During the 29th WAII Graduation, and coincidentally their 30th Anniversary, President Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone's president and an alma mater of WAII, presiding over the momentous ceremony at the Jerma Beach Hotel in Kololi president Koroma says, "The West African Insurance Institute has attained academic distinction and is now renowned. It continues to attract many in the sub-region. In its thirtieth year of educating insurance practitioners, WAII has acquired the record of graduating over 3,000 students including many insurance industry leaders. It is a legend that some of the noteworthy graduates are now national public figures as ministers of government and others are yet presidents of their nations."

He pointed out to the graduating students that they were about to leave and venture into the world to assume new responsibilities, face new challenges and the complexities of the insurance industries, noting that they must always look for  excellence. He said they should note that there is responsibility ahead that is attached to their courses offered in the institution. He says, "The grandness of attending this institute carries a great responsibility to use your knowledge and training for improving the lives of others in your respective countries."

He urged all to give their best so as to live a mark in serving their countries as good citizens. "This is a proud moment for me to be part of the 29th graduation ceremony of WAII where I was myself a student," President Koroma said.

Dr. Prince Mike Ikupolati, the Director of WAII, said the institute was established through a treaty by five West African countries; The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. He said the institution was relocated to The Gambia in 1991 following the NPFL war against the state.

Dr. Ikupolati appealed for more support for the institute to cater for the growing insurance need of the sub-region.

SoS Musa Gibril Bala Gaye, Chairman WAII Governing Council, said that the development of human resource capacity is a very important ingredient for economic development.

President Koroma's entourage includes, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Employment and Presidential Affairs.

During the Dinner and Award Ceremony at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, hundreds of distinguished and invited guests were present. The two presidents though were in the premises of the Hotel arrived as usual. The High Table was full of notable and prominent people of The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria.

President Jammeh answering to the MC's question of saying a few words, he asked the learned what in a speech could mean a few words. In a joke he arouse every body's emotion to laughter adding relief to the long programme. "How many words make a few words?" He pointed the question to SoS Crispin Gray Johnson. On another note he delved into another point.

President Jammeh said the institution was set up by several countries meaning they should help out to make it a better place. "Many have asked me about the secret of development in The Gambia," he said. He said he has always said there is no secret.  He suggested that all member countries affiliated to WAII show that they belong.

Earlier on Dr. Prince Mike Ikupolati, the Director General of WAII, had asked with his team for President Jammeh to give them a bus. The president's first impression was that the institution had many prominent ex-students who could do more. At the end, he gave them their heart desire.

President Jammeh at the Dinner and Award Ceremony at Kairaba Hotel donated a huge sum of money and a key of a Fifty-Seater-Bus to WAII on their 30th anniversary.

President Yayah A. JJ Jammeh, president of The Gambia donated 4. 5 Million Dalasis to the West African Insurance Institute in lieu of their request to improve the institution. In addition, President Jammeh handed the key of a new Fifty-Seater-Bus to his comrade, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, one of the first students of the institution.

Noting that the institution was funded by philanthropists, set up by countries of the sub region President Jammeh said, "I see that the institution was set up by countries. All member countries affiliated to WAII would contribute annually (compulsory) and donations would be voluntary."

President Jammeh said, the first time they asked for a bus he said to them that their ex-students are normally well off. "But I decided to give them a Fifty-Seater-Bus, well air conditioned and the last of my buses. I am beginning the contribution before other member states with this 4.5 Million Dalasis, charity begins at home."

Dr. Mike Ikupolati, the Director of WAII expressed joy at receiving such a laudable gesture from the President of the land. He was overwhelmed over the bus and above all the huge amount the president contributed. He says, When you are given such amount you cannot eat and you would not be able to talk, so I am."

President Koroma from Sierra Leone promised to fund WAII's library project from start to finish.

In amazement some invited guests applauded His Excellency President Jammeh for such a laudable gesture. Chairman Musa of the Sierra Leone Nationals Union in The Gambia says, "President Jammeh has done it again! He is a humanitarian and has mankind at heart. God will bless him for such a laudable gesture to the poor."

President Jammeh, President Koroma, Chief Dr. Sonny Odogo and seventeen others received different types of awards. Members from the member countries also received the award, some in absentia.

Dr. Prince Mike Ikupolati said the International Insurance Company of Nigeria had donated 4 Million Naira. The Director General of WAII further said that they had five winners in their essay competition, which have been compiled into a book, and answers questions like "where are you?" The answers and more are in the book.

Johnny Wilcott, the Vice Director of WAII gave the vote of thanks. The gathering was entertained by a Nigerian band, Jola Dance Troop, Sembe Cultural Troop and the Police Band.