TEK: A leader and legend bids the world final farewell

The late Taukeme Edwin Koroye TEK

Taukeme Edwin Koroye (TEK), death drew the final curtain on your eventful life on Saturday, November 18, 2017. It brought a painful end to your valued contributions to corporate Nigeria, especially the Nigerian financial services sector and accounting profession, where your legacy of integrity, strength of character and professionalism are aspired to by practitioners.

With these uncommon outstanding qualities, you soared to the pinnacle of your career and never allowed the ‘power of office’ to corrupt your values. Everyone who met you attested to your brilliance, and acknowledged your huge contributions to the vibrant sector at the heart of the nation’s economy.

TEK, our path first crossed at Access Bank, from where you retired as an executive director in 2014. As one of the leaders in the bank where ‘Generals’ lead the battle from the front, you inspired a crop of new professionals and raised an army of a new generation of business leaders, whose expertise today sustain the industry.

Again, we met at Nestoil when you came out of retirement to help with the ongoing restructuring of the leading indigenous engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) company. In your assignment as group executive director (finance and operations), you brought fresh energy and passion to the organisation, and built solid bridges across employee networks.

From Abuloma in Port Harcourt to Warri where the company has operational bases, through Okija in Anambra State to Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, and projects sites across the country, employees knew that a leader had arrived the organisation. You bonded and connected with employees individually, and visited their work locations to understand their daily challenges, just as you did as executive director, operations and information technology at Access Bank.

Our second meeting brought me closer to you because of shared experience and the fact that my relationship with you improved after you had left Access Bank. Unlike my initial closeness to you which was inspired by my admiration of your use of language (diction), often read from mails to staff and in memos and where I acquired the expression ‘take a dim view of’, the second meeting provided access to discovering your wonderful personality.

You were first a teacher of men, a leader of people, and then a legend as you helped build institutions. TEK, like most men of substance, you shunned the limelight and allowed mankind to enjoy the value you brought to bear, instead of seeking personal glory that inspires ordinary men.

For members of ‘Citi Bank Class of 1987’, most of whom have become business leaders and accomplished in their own right, leaders like TEK are rare.  His vision, expressed in his model of how the internal control and audit functions should run in a bank, conceived mid-career, although with several adaptations now, served as the compass that guided many to their accomplishments, and revolutionised anti-fraud frameworks of banks.

If I expressly credited you with outright professionalisation of the internal control and audit functions in the Nigerian banking sector, you would disagree because you always recognized the contributions of other people. So, the visibility of your influence on the career path and role as a forerunner, have reserved a revered place for your name in the history of the profession.

Beyond your career, you had a genuine love for mankind and always expressed concerns about crumbling social values and lack of infrastructure in our society. My last discussion of these issues with you was upon my return from Bayelsa State, particularly the Ijaw speaking parts. I recounted to you my experiences as I journeyed through Bomadi and Burutu Local Governments in Delta State to communities in Ekeremor Local Government in Bayelsa State.

Disconsolately, I vividly painted to you the pictures of neglect, deprivation and hopelessness I saw on my visit to those communities. The dire conditions in these villages forced me to admit that life is not truly fair, and its generosity does not come without a price. I struggled to reconcile the level of indigence in the Ijaw speaking communities I visited with the fact that the State is one of Nigeria’s largest oil-producing states.

Rather than being disturbed my account, you expressed familiarity with the situation and regretted that your inability to change the situation of the people in the area. In an emotion-laden voice and your characteristic candour, you said “Segun that is where I come from, I know everything you are talking about. The situation in my area deteriorates daily and I wish I could do much more to save my people”.

As I listened to you reel out your development plans for selected communities in Bayelsa State, my mind was resolving how you were able to emerge from such deprivation to graduate with a Second Class Upper Degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos, attended Harvard Business School, became a Fellow of Chartered Institutes of Accountants and served on the board of several leading companies, including Linkage Assurance Plc, Petrodata Management Services Ltd, Wapic Insurance Plc and Access Bank Plc, you broke my thought with a bang on the table, “Gbam! Chief, in this phase of my life, I will be more dedicated to the service of my people”.

TEK, you were a very good man who loved his family and served mankind. You believed in God and lived a good life, which sadly was not as long as we wanted you around.

Rest in peace, Taukeme Edwin Koroye.

  • Segun Fafore submitted this piece from Lagos. He can be reached via segunfafore@gmail.com