There is no new thing to write about Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, the man who single-handedly founded a merchant bank in Nigeria. He was born on 9 March 1934 at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria. He went to Igbobi College, Yaba and then went ahead to study Law at the London School of Economics and was called to the English bar in 1959.
His journey into the financial sector began when he was sponsored by the Western Regional Government to receive special training in Legal Drafting in Whitehall and the City of London, with particular specialisation in financial legislation, instruments, and agreements.
Upon completion, he served as a Crown Counsel in both the Ministry of Justice of the then Western Nigeria and then, as Assistant Parliamentary Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos.
He went on to serve as Principal Counsel and Company Secretary to the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), likely the point where he developed an interest in banking.
Later on, he received training at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), also known as the World Bank, and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), both in Washington DC. He went further to learn from leading stockbrokers, investment banks, and merchant banks in London and New York.
Balogun showed a great level of expertise which made him part of the team that converted Icon Securities into a merchant bank after working as the Director of Operations.
He later headed Icon Stockbrokers Limited, a foremost stockbroking firm that he was instrumental in establishing. He was subsequently seconded to Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers), as an Executive Director and was there till 1977 when he left to set up his company.
In December 1977, Balogun set up City Securities Limited, the first institution in Nigeria to ever combine an issuing house and stockbroking business under one name. This was only the first step to establishing the merchant bank which he wanted. From there, he set up the first wholly Nigerian-owned merchant bank – First City Merchant Bank Limited.
In 2001, the name of the bank was changed from First City Merchant Bank to First City Monument Bank, after it became a universal bank.
Three years later, on 15 July 2004, FCMB changed its status from a private limited liability company to a public limited liability company and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on 21 December 2004.
He was a people man. He set up a foundation, Otunba Tunwase Foundation through which carried out his numerous philanthropic activities. He built healthcare institutions particularly targeted at children, including the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital, a newly built and fully-equipped air-conditioned 40-bed Children’s Centre which he donated in 1989. It was named after his mother – Iye Subomi’s Child Care Centre.
And on his 60th birthday, he started building the Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre (OTNPC). The OTNPC is a referral institution taking care of child healthcare and welfare, and also providing an avenue for specialised studies and academic research into all manners of children’s diseases and ailments. He donated the centre to the University of Ibadan’s University College Teaching Hospital.
Though very wealthy and influential, kept a very low profile in spite of that. He is reportedly worth an estimated net worth of $700 million. He was a lover of exotic cars in his fleet. He was a staunch lover of the British luxury car, Rolls Royce, and he owns eleven of the expensive limousines making him top the list of Nigerians with the most Rolls Royce.
He also owned one of the most prestigious and expensive mansions in the country. The N500 million property sits at Glover Road, Ikoyi and about a replica of it in his home town, Ijebu-Ode.
Apart from being a businessman and a philanthropist, Balogun, a direct descendant of Oba Tunwase of Ijebu-Ode never forgot his roots and his culture. He was the Otunba Tunwase of Ijebuland, he was the Olori Omoba of Ijebuland and also the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians. It is worthy of mention that Balogun was born to Muslim parents but later converted to Christianity from his school days and remained a devoted Christian till he passed on. He was a strong adherent of the Christian faith, he also had a strong character with unwavering inner convictions to which his resounding successes in many spheres of life could be attributed.
Indeed, he grew gracefully and became an outstanding personality, a great phenomenon and embodiment of achievements within his immediate environment and far beyond. His story was 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 was highly regarded, respected and honoured in society. The honour bestowed on him did not stem from the immensity of his wealth, but from the good use to which he had put this wealth for the service of humanity.
He was a well-respected community leader whose contributions to community welfare continued to expand and will certainly outlive him.
After living a fully ripe life, he once revealed that he had no regret over anything he ever did. “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.
The man of many caps finally took a bow on Thursday 18th May 2023, after a brief illness in London, United Kingdom. The family revealed that he passed on surrounded by his family.
“With a heavy heart but with gratitude and total submission to the will of the Almighty God, we announce the passing of our Patriarch and the Founder of FCMB, Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, CON, The Olori Omo Oba Akile Ijebu and Asiwaju of ljebu Christians, who passed away, following a very brief illness, at the age of 89 years, in the evening of Thursday 18th May 2023, in London, United Kingdom, surrounded by his family,” the family statement read in parts. His soul rest in peace.
Author: Kangmwa Gofwen
Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria