On Friday, May 19th, 2023, the Nigerian business world was shocked to learn that Otunba Subomi Balogun, the founder of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), and Olori Omoba of Ijebuland, had died at the age of 89 in London.
Otunba Balogun was a true trailblazer and icon in the Nigerian banking landscape, pioneering investment banking and indigenous financial entrepreneurship. In addition, he was a philanthropist, a devout Christian, and a respected Ijebu chief.
Otunba Balogun, born on March 9, 1934, into a prominent family in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, had a distinguished academic career.
He attended Ijebu-Ode Grammar School and CMS Grammar School in Lagos before attending the London School of Economics to study law. In 1959, he was admitted to the English Bar, and in 1961, he was admitted to the Nigerian Bar. He began his legal career at Olu Ayoola and Co., where he eventually rose to become a partner. Later, he founded his own law firm, Balogun, Badejo, and Co.
Otunba Balogun’s career in finance began in 1973 when he was appointed executive director of the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB). He was instrumental in establishing the bank’s merchant banking arm, ICON Limited (Merchant Bankers), which he later led as managing director and CEO.
He established City Securities Ltd, Nigeria’s first institution that served as both an issuing house and a stock brokerage firm, in 1977. In 1982, this was changed to First City Merchant Bank.
In 1982, he founded his own merchant bank, First City Merchant Bank Limited (FCMB), which was the first bank in Nigeria to be established without government or foreign assistance.
FCMB quickly established itself as a market leader in Nigeria, offering innovative products and services such as commercial paper, equipment leasing, corporate finance, and money market operations. Otunba Balogun also expanded the bank’s operations outside of Nigeria, opening branches in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
Following FCMB’s conversion to a universal bank in 2001, the name was changed from First City Merchant Bank to First City Monument Bank.FCMB evolved into a universal bank, providing retail banking services in addition to its core investment banking activities.
After 27 years of visionary leadership, Otunba Balogun retired as FCMB’s group chief executive in 2006. He served as chairman of the board until 2010, when he was succeeded by his son, Ladi Balogun. In addition, he transferred his majority stake in FCMB to a trust for the benefit of his children and charity. He served as FCMB’s honorary life president until his death.
Otunba Balogun was a successful banker as well as a generous philanthropist. In 1986, he established the Otunba Tunwase Foundation to provide health care, education, and welfare to children and the less fortunate.
He also endowed several chairs and scholarships at various universities and donated a multi-billion naira pediatric center to the University of Ibadan. He supported numerous professional organizations and associations, including the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)
Otunba Balogun was also a devout Christian who served God and humanity with passion and humility. He was the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians and a founding member of The Fountain of Life Church. He authored several books on Christianity, banking, and leadership.
He was also a lover of arts and culture and supported many initiatives to promote the Ijebu heritage. He held several chieftaincy titles, such as the Olori Omo-oba of Ijebuland, the Asalu-Oba of Ijebu Mushin, and the Baba Oba of Ijebu-Ife.
Otunba Balogun was married to his beloved wife, Olori Abimbola Balogun, for over 60 years and they were blessed with four children and many grandchildren.
He was a devoted family man who cherished his wife and children above all else.
Otunba Subomi Balogun was a renowned Nigerian banker, lawyer, and philanthropist who founded the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) in 1982. He was also a prominent Ijebu chief and a descendant of Oba Tunwase of Ijebu-Ode. He passed away on May 19, 2023, at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife and four sons, who are all successful in their respective fields.
Here is a brief profile of each of his sons
Bolaji Balogun– He is the eldest son and the CEO of Chapel Hill Denham Group, a financial advisory services firm. He has over 19 years of experience in investment banking and was a co-founder of Econet Wireless Nigeria. He is also the chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc. He is married to Kemi, the daughter of Frank Aig-Imoukhuede, a veteran journalist and author. They have five children: Sayo, Dayo, Timi, Kanyinsola, and Funmilade.
Jide Balogun – He is the second son and a director of FCMB Group Plc. He is also involved in other businesses and investments. He is married to Uche, the daughter of Chief Sonny Odogwu, a billionaire businessman and Ide-Asaba. They have a strong bond of friendship with Otunba Balogun.
Ladi Balogun – He is the third son and the group chief executive of FCMB Group Plc. He has been with the bank for over 20 years and has played a key role in its growth and transformation. He is also the founder and chairman of Legacy Pension Managers Limited, a leading pension fund administrator in Nigeria. He is married to Banke, a lawyer and entrepreneur. They have three children: Subomi, Tobi, and Tomi.
Gboyega Balogun – He is the youngest son and the co-founder and managing director of CardinalStone Partners Limited, an investment banking firm. He has over 15 years of experience in finance and capital markets. He is also a director of FCMB Group Plc and Legacy Pension Managers Limited. He is married to Emma, a chartered accountant and fashion designer. They have two children: Femi and Simi.
Otunba Balogun will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, associates, and admirers. He was a rare gem who left an indelible mark on the Nigerian banking industry and society at large. He lived a life of excellence, integrity, service, and legacy. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Things you need to know about late Otunba Subomi Balogun
- Subomi Balogun was born in 1934 in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State to Muslim parents, and converted to Christianity while in secondary school.
- He graduated from the London School of Economics, where he studied Law.
- As a young banker, he founded First City Merchant Bank (FCMB) in 1982, later becoming First City Monument Bank Group in 2001.
- He retired as the group chief executive of FCMB in 2006 after 27 years of leadership.
- Balogun is a baron of the Nigerian capital and money market.
- During his lifetime he was a direct descendant of Oba Tunwase of Ijebu-Ode and held the chieftaincy title of Otunba Tunwase, the Olori Omoba of Ijebuland and the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians.
- Asides from Balogun’s business dealings, he is also a philanthropist. He established The Otunba Tunwase Foundation to cater to the welfare of the less privileged and also donated a pediatric center to the University of Ibadan.
- He was married to Olori Abimbola Balogun, and they are blessed with four sons and many grandchildren.