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Banking legend Otunba Subomi Balogun in the 1980s



Otunba Subomi Balogun

Nearly two decades after retiring from the active banking industry, the 86-year-old Subomi Balogun still has a great influence in Nigeria’s banking industry. Some even argue that his influence after retirement is as great as when he was still chairman and chief executive officer of FCMB, Nigeria’s first wholly-owned commercial bank. In 2004, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced new minimum equity of 25 billion naira, and Balogun withdrew from retirement to lead the campaign. Under his influence and promotion, even if FCMB eventually acquired six other banks that could not meet the requirements, the company’s issued shares were oversubscribed.

Who is Olasubomi Balogun?

Olasubomi Olaotan Olaonipekun Balogun was born on March 9, 1934, in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state

He received his secondary education at Igbobi College in Yaba, Lagos, and then wrote and passed the Cambridge School Level 1 Certificate in 1952, and then passed the General Certificate Examination (GCE) Advanced Certificate. After that, Subomi taught in a middle school for a while and then went to the London School of Economics (LSE) to study in 1956. After graduating in June 1959, he was appointed as a lawyer of the British Bar in December 1959.

Later, he was sponsored by the Western Region Government and received special training in legal drafting in Whitehall and the City of London, especially expertise in financial legislation, instruments, and agreements. After completion, he served as the Royal Legal Counsel at the then Ministry of Justice of Western Nigeria and then served as the Parliamentary Assistant Legal Counsel at the Lagos Federal Ministry of Justice.

Subomi served as the chief legal counsel and company secretary of the Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (NIDB) for 9 years (1966 to 1975). This is part of the reason for his interest in banks. Subsequently, he received training at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (also known as the World Bank) and its private sector subsidiary International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington. He further learned from leading stockbrokers, investment banks, and merchant banks in London and New York.

By 1973, Subomi Balogun (Subomi Balogun) had shown a high level of professionalism, even if he became the managing director of Icon Securities Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of NIDB. He later became a member of the team that converted Icon Securities into a merchant bank. Later, he led Icon Stockbrokers Limited, the most important stock brokerage company he established. He was subsequently seconded to Icon Limited (merchant banker) as an executive director until he left the company in 1977 to establish.

He recalled that he finally left because of the pain of being cheated. After returning from the American course, he proposed the idea of ​​establishing a commercial bank. Although he was the most qualified person to serve as the CEO of the new institution, he was overthrown. “When I was elected as the Chief Executive, someone told me that despite all the plea, I cannot serve as the Chief Executive because I happened to have received basic training in law. I was 42 years old and they brought a little or no basis from the age of 32. Young inexperienced people came to America,” he recalled.

He recalled when he prayed at home. But when his son asked him why he prayed to lead another person’s bank instead of owning a bank, he woke up. This question from a 9-year-old child inspired the 43-year-old child to start alone even without a partner.

Established the first Nigerian merchant bank.

In December 1977, Subomi Balogun established City Securities Limited, the first institution in Nigeria to merge the issuing company and stock brokerage business into one name. This was just the first step in establishing the merchant bank he wanted. From there, he established the first Nigerian wholly-owned commercial bank – First City Merchant Bank Limited. “People thought it was impossible. Someone said I would either end up as a multi-billionaire or go to jail,” Subomi said.

“When it came to selecting the Chief Executive, I was told that in spite of all entreaties, that I could not be the Chief Executive because I happened to have basic training in law. I was 42 and they brought a young man with little or no experience, from America, at 32, to take my place,” he added, as he was known popularly as the King of Pathfinder.

He also recalled that this was done under the intervention of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who had just been elected as the Vice President of the Second Republic. “But for him, FCMB is still a dream,” Balogun said. Within a week, he received a call from Yomi Akintola, Minister of Finance, stating that his license had been granted.

It is no easy task to start a bank with one hand. This is the honor Balogun has won among bank founders. In the first two decades, he led the bank, doubled as chairman and chief executive officer, and successfully pushed it beyond the world. The bank’s paid-up capital increased from N2 million naira when it was established in 1979 to N1.5 billion naira, and as of December 2002, the total shareholders’ funds had increased to N2.65 billion naira.

After the bank became General Bank in 2001, its name was changed from First City Commercial Bank to First City Monument Bank. Three years later, on July 15, 2004, FCMB changed from a private limited liability company to a public limited liability company and was listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) on December 21, 2004.

On his 60th birthday, he started building the Otunba Tunwase National Pediatric Center (OTNPC) as a gift to Nigeria. OTNPC is a referral organization responsible for children’s health and welfare, and also provides a way for specialized research and academic research on various childhood diseases and diseases. For his outstanding contribution to the development of investment banking, he received the American Biographical Institute’s Outstanding Leadership Award and received a Juris Doctor of Ibadan University (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of law achievement. To the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Fight for a century

To celebrate the 86th birthday in March 2020, Balogun revealed in an interview that even in his 80s, he regularly exercises and swims.

“A friend of mine once visited and asked why I still use a staircase when there is an elevator. I said I still want to be walking like a sprinter. By the time I am 90, I would be praying to be 100 and I would still want to be articulate and maintain my cerebral gifts,” he stated.

He is a member of the Chartered Bankers Association of Nigeria (CIBN) and a board member of several multinational chambers of commerce. He holds several traditional titles among the people of Ijebu and has received many awards and recognitions.


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