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Subomi Balogun: Banker extraordinaire who defied odds

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By  Idowu Abdullahi

Like it is for all mortals, the founder of First City Monument Bank, Subomi Balogun, on Friday, breathed his last. He reportedly died at an undisclosed hospital in London, United Kingdom.

With his passing, the banking and money market sector has lost a colossus. Aside from professionals, traditional title holders, particularly in Ijebu, Ogun State, have been thrown into mourning.

Like in the banking and money market sector, the late philanthropist never lost touch with his Yoruba root, he was an embodiment of culture.

His nearly 9 decades on earth were eventful and rewarding. So fulfilled he was that his quiet life was loud. He was unassuming in all spheres of life. https://live.primis-amp.tech/content/video/amp/videoIframe.php?s=113240#amp=1

Apart from being the founder of FCMB Group, the late Balogun was 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.

Early life

Balogun was born in 1934 in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State to Muslim parents. The deceased was said to have converted to Christianity while in secondary school.

He graduated from Igbobi College in Lagos and proceeded to study Law at the London School of Economics. Before leaving for Europe, he briefly worked as a teacher. After earning his law degree, he returned to Nigeria to join the Ministry of Justice, Western Region.

Nigerian capital, money baron

“Balogun is a baron of the Nigerian capital and money markets; doyen, pioneer and role model of entrepreneurial banking in Nigeria,” an FCMB press release celebrating its CEO read in part.

To his credit, the deceased entered into the financial sector, reshaped and became a household name in the industry until his death.

He was also described as a constructive philanthropist and a distinguished church leader who devoted a substantial part of his private resources toward the care and service of the less privileged.

Reminiscing on death

“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,’’ he was quoted to have said.

To be well positioned for God’s grace, he devoted his life post-active banking years to “serve God, society and do things that add significant value to humanity has continued to wax stronger”.


“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 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,” the FCMB statement said on his philanthropic gestures.

‘No regret’

During his lifetime, was said to be a strong character with unwavering inner convictions that earned him resounding successes in many spheres of life.

“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,” the late billionaire was quoted to have said.

Reflecting on his life during an interview with The PUNCH in 2019 on his 85th birthday, Balogun said, “I am at peace with my God. I marvel on every occasion at why He has been so kind to me. I don’t have any airs about me; I am always myself. I can only credit this to the amazing grace of God. m

“At the climax of anything I may have achieved, I attribute everything to the awesomeness of God and His love for little me. I spend all my time talking about God. A friend recently called me and said he noticed that before I say three words, I would mention God. It is a measure of my appreciation to attribute everything that has happened to me to the amazing grace of the almighty God.

“I am just humbled by the awesomeness of the almighty God to think of a puny human being like me. I see my contemporaries, people who had achieved even before I was born, and those I consider my mentors, and on every given occasion, I am amazed as to why God has been so kind to me. I will spend the rest of my life thanking Him. There are many of my peers who have one problem or the other, but I am still hale and hearty. I still swim regularly.”


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.

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