Otunba Subomi Balogun at 83: An Embodiment of Grace and Greatness

There is no gainsaying the fact that Otunba (Dr.) Michael Olasubomi Balogun, the Founder of FCMB Group and Olori Omo-oba of Ijebuland has reached an altitude in life that is shaping his attitude of gratitude to God. At age 83, his  conviction that he has a duty to devote the rest of his life to serve God, society and do things that adds significant value to humanity has continued to wax stronger. As he often says, “when the final call comes, you will just open your hands and say, God, here I am. To be able to do that, you need the grace of God’’.

 

Indeed, since his birth on March 9, 1934 at Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, Otunba Balogun has grown to gracefully become an outstanding personality, a great phenomenon and embodiment of achievements within his immediate environment and far beyond. His story is that of a man who understood early in life that the true essence of wealth is achieved only when it is deployed to the service of humanity, especially the less privileged. A man of proven immense wealth who is highly regarded, respected and honoured in the society, the honour bestowed on Otunba Balogun does not, however, stem from the immensity of his wealth, but from the good use to which he has put this wealth for the service of humanity.

 

Over this period, he has garnered many epithets and appellations which present him as a colossus bestriding every aspect of national life. Apart from being the founder of FCMB Group, he is the Otunba Tunwase, the Olori Omo-oba of Ijebu; the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians, the Baba Oba of Ijebu-Ife and the Asalu-Oba of Ijebu Mushin. Otunba Balogun is a baron of the Nigerian capital and money markets; doyen, pioneer and role model of entrepreneurial banking in Nigeria; a constructive philanthropist and a distinguished church leader who has devoted a substantial part of his private resources towards the care and service of the less privileged.

 

A lover of children who has built several institutions for the health care, welfare and survival of children, Otunba Balogun is also a distinguished author, opinion leader, writer and a respected community leader whose contributions for community welfare continue to expand even as he grows older. A business icon, a philanthropist par excellence and a strong adherent to the Christian religion faith, he is also a strong character with unwavering inner convictions to which his resounding successes in many spheres of life could be attributed.

 

“I have a very strong character. There is nothing that I did that I wish I had not done. I have no regret over any of my past actions”, he says. Recalling when he was to set up  First City Monument Bank (FCMB),a wholly Nigerian Bank which he singlehandedly established, he said he was coming up with a culture of excellence and  he went ahead to define what the culture of excellence would be. It is to his credit that he was the first to create a special dining room for banks and was also the first to insist on bank staff wearing dark suits.

 

Over the years, this icon of our time has distinguished himself with rare altruism—sleeping, waking  and thinking about how to impact positively on communities and people, especially the less privileged in his society.  Philanthropy is almost always an interesting pastime for those who have the giving spirit and for Otunba Balogun, it goes beyond a pastime to what could be seen as a creed, hence he set up the ‘Otunba Tunwase Foundation’ through which he ventilates his philanthropic spirit in services to the community.

 

Otunba Balogun has several awards in his kitty. He is a recipient of the American Biographical Institute Inc’s Distinguished Leadership Award for outstanding contributions to the development of Investment Banking. He is also a recipient of the University of Ibadan’s Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding achievements both in the field of Law and his contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria; a Merit Award for philanthropic services to Ogun State in particular and the country as a whole, and also the Ijebu Development Association award and Council Membership of a number of multi-national Chambers of Commerce. The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria made him a Fellow of the Institute for his pioneering and outstanding contribution to the Banking Industry.