Flood of tributes as Otunba Subomi Balogun dies at 89

May 20, 2023

• Buhari, Gbajibiamila, Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, others mourn

The nation was thrown into mourning yesterday as news filtered in midday announcing the death of the business magnate, lawyer and founder of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Group, Otunba Subomi Balogun, who breathe his last at the age of 89 years in a London hospital after a brief illness.

As news of his passing reverberated across the business community and beyond, hail of tributes poured in from all corners of the globe as many spoke of the Ijebu prince in affectionate terms and superlative adjectives.

Firing the first salvo, President Muhammadu Buhari mourned the death of the late icon even as he condoled with the Balogun family and the business community over the loss.

In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari lauded the philanthropy and humanitarian services of the late Otunba Tunwase of Ijebuland to the community and the nation.

“The President condoles with family members, friends, and associates of the revered businessman, whose legacy of kindness and charity stretched into many homes, institutions, and communities, touching lives through education, health, and multiple empowerment opportunities.

“President Buhari affirms that Chief Balogun, through foresight, wisdom, and hard work, lived ahead of his time, by starting the First City Merchant Bank in 1983, which has grown over the years, with branches across the country, and working assiduously for the take-off and success of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“The President notes the outpouring of testimonies on the life and times of the legendary banker, especially his towering influence in grooming many talented leaders in the sector, who had since set up their investment platforms, within and outside the country.

“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will receive the soul of the departed, and comfort all his loved ones,” the statement said.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, described the demise of the founder of the First Monument City Bank, Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, as painful.

The Speaker said the death of the banker of note in the early hours of Friday in London came at a time when his wise counsel would be needed as the country transits to a new government.

While commiserating with the family, people and government of Ogun State over his demise, Gbajabiamila said Otunba Balogun’s impacts and innovations on the Nigerian banking sector cannot be overemphasised, which makes his death painful.

He said Otunba Balogun would be sorely missed and urged his family and friends to take solace in the knowledge that he lived a fulfilled life while contributing positively to society and the Nigerian economy.

The Speaker also prayed for the repose of the soul of the late septuagenarian, and for God to forgive his trespasses. He sent heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Ogun State over the loss.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the late Otunba Balogun as a renowned technocrat, seasoned administrator and philanthropist, who made a mark in the country by contributing to the growth and development of the banking sector in Nigeria.

In a condolence message issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, on Friday, Governor Sanwo-Olu also commended Balogun’s contribution to the economy of Nigeria as boardroom guru and employer of labour, especially as the founder of FCMB among several other companies.

The governor while condoling with the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Awujale of Ijebu Kingdom, Oba Sikiru Adetona and the entire people of Ogun State, especially the indigenes of Ijebu on the demise of their illustrious son and elder statesman, also sympathised with the Managing Director of FCMB, Mrs. Yemisi Edun and the entire management and Staff of the financial institution.

He said: “On behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, I want to express my sincere condolences to the family, friends and associates of Otunba Subomi Balogun, as well as management and staff of FCMB.

“I pray that God will grant him eternal rest and grant his immediate family, friends, associates, FCMB team, the banking industry and the people of Ogun State, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

In his tribute Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun described the death of the Olori Omo Oba of Ijebuland as a colossal loss.

Mourning the passing of the business mogul and philanthropist, the governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, described the death of Balogun as a colossal loss, not only to Ogun State, but Nigeria and the business world.

He noted that the late Olori Omo Oba of Ijebuland was one of the foremost entrepreneurs who took banking to an enviable level in the country.

Abiodun added that apart from being a business magnate, Chief Subomi Balogun was a devoted Christian, a loving father and husband as well as lover of Ijebuland.

The governor said the contributions of the late banker to the socio-economic development of Ijebuland and Ogun State was humongous and beneficial to numerous people and entities.

According to the statement, the vacuum created by the demise of Balogun will be difficult to fill, pointing out that his love for humanity and dedication to the service of God was worth emulation.

While commiserating with the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona and the entire people of Ijebu on the passing of the renowned entrepreneur, Abiodun equally condoled the immediate family left behind by him.

He emphasised that the philanthropic gestures and good sense of fashion and traditions of one of the illustrious sons of Ogun state, will be sorely missed.

While praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased, the governor urged his family members not to grief, but find solace in the fact that Chief Subomi Balogun lived a life of industry, service to God and humanity.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, in his tribute described IOtunba Balogun as an “icon of the African banking and finance industry.”

“I celebrate the extremely accomplished life of the private and public sector colossus, Chief Michael Olasubomi Balogun, the Founder of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and icon of the African banking and finance industry, “ Obaseki said, adding that “Chief Balogun was a dexterous banker, who deployed his intellect for the service of humanity and his country.”

“A blue blood and scion of Ijebuland, in Ogun State, Chief Balogun, after acquiring a law degree at the London School of Economics, cut his teeth as a banker working for the World Bank before setting up what was then known as the First City Merchant Bank.

“He was a great man in all ramifications and remained the leading light in the banking profession.

“Chief Balogun strode like a titan in the banking and investment sectors and was indeed a pioneer who tread where others feared. He was brave and an inspiration to many who sought a career in investment banking.

“Through FCMB, Chief Balogun opened a new vista of opportunity for the expansion of the private sector in Nigeria by providing much needed credit for the growth of businesses. The banking industry has indeed lost a great pillar and Nigeria has lost an irreplaceable icon.”

The governor also commiserated with the Balogun family, friends and associates of the deceased and prayed that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

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