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SUBOMI BALOGUN :GRANDFATHER OF INVESTMENT BANKING

The Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians Subomi Balogun is, indeed ,a trailblazer in the financial sector

For his exploits in that sector Balogun is regarded as an undisputable father of merchant banking in Nigeria and grandfather of investment banking .He is also fondly referred to as the Baron of the Nigerian Capital market.

This may not be farfetched .His role in the evolution of new banking economy actually started in eighties that led to the entrance of some young turks putting off the toga of mangers in the old economy banking and putting on the garment of an entrepreneurs . This set of bankers virtually changed the face of banking in Nigeria. Indeed they are the beneficiaries off the deregulation exercise by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration

Essentially the thinking is that perhaps the economy was grossly under banked and also there was the need to break the monopoly of the few in operation. Invariably the need to shore up the number of banks in the country and probably enhance competition in the industry meant that more banks had to be licensed .

But there was a condition attached to the deregulation which was that every applicant for a license to float a bank must have offshore technical partners .This was an effective barrier against new entrants so the majority could not get off the ground

However, Otunba Subomi Balogun stood out among the crowd of applicants for banking license to fight against the stiff banking condition and was eventually able to convince the Central Bank of Nigeria . against the issue of foreign technical partners.

So from floating his own security firm he was able to fight a herculean battle with CBN and succeeded thus becoming the first individual to get a banking license. The result of this today is what is First City Monument Bank ,FCMB. . . Balogun started the First Nigerian fully owned Merchant Bank, First City Merchant Bank in 1982.

This breakthrough by Otunba Balogun opened the floodgate for others to join in the entrepreneur drive .Indeed , it marked the beginning of top managers in banks taking their destiny in their hands to structure out the founding of banks . One of the common features about these people is that they were mostly middle managers in the old generation merchant banks but having very strong connections with the top notchers both in the public and private sectors

. Born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Balogun who read law in England,is a philanthropist to the core .. .. A distinguished author, opinion leader, writer and a respected community leader, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun graduated LLB Honours, June, 1959 at the London School of Economics (LSE) and called to the English Bar in December, 1959.

He was trained by the Government of Western Region of Nigeria as a Parliamentary Counsel at Whitehall and the British Parliament in London. For nine years, between 1966 and 1975, he was the first Principal Counsel and Company Secretary to the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB). During this period, he received extensive training at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), otherwise known as the World Bank, and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) both in Washington DC. He also received extensive training from leading stockbrokers, investment banks and merchant banks in London and New York.

Pioneering Spirit In 1973, he was appointed the director in charge of the operations of Icon Securities Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of NIDB. While in NIDB, together with other colleagues, he spearheaded the conversion of Icon Securities into a merchant bank. He was also instrumental to the establishment of Icon Stockbrokers Limited, a foremost stock broking firm, which he subsequently headed.

Following the establishment of Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers), Otunba was seconded to that bank as an executive director. During this time, he represented Icon on the Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and he distinguished himself in the handling of many capital issues on the Exchange. He resigned in December 1977 to set up his own company, City Securities Limited, which became the first institution in Nigeria to combine Issuing House and Stock broking businesses under one roof.

At the end of the then Indigenisation Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Otunba Balogun had put against his name and that of his company, City Securities Limited, the public sale of shares of about 11 international companies and the private sale of shares of over 20 foreign companies.

In less than two years of the establishment of City Securities Limited, he bestrode the Nigerian Capital Market like a colossus so much so that a leading and reputable financial and business journal, in a citation, described him as “a most distinguished and a leading Baron of the Nigerian Capital Market”. During this period, he was a member of the Council of the Stock Exchange, and actually served on the Council, representing ICON and City Securities Limited from 1973 until early 1988.

As a natural sequence to his outstanding performances in the Nigerian Capital and Money Markets, Otunba Balogun in 1979, single-handedly set up the first wholly Nigerian owned merchant bank, known as “First City Merchant Bank Limited”. Under his leadership as chairman and chief executive, First City Merchant Bank Limited (FCMB) in its first 20 years of existence, experienced steady and un-interrupted growth, and earned national and international recognition as market leaders in investment banking and capital market services.

Otunba (Dr.) Michael Olasubomi Olayiwola Oladimeji Olaonipekun Balogun’s love for God is pure and free of all hypocrisies. Born at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on March 9, 1934 to Muslim parents, he changed his faith when he entered Igbobi College and his mother’s encouragement made the transition smooth for him. And talking about his mother usually strikes a chord in him and he would spare no word in praises of her. He says, apart from God that has been so merciful to him in his years sojourn on earth, his mother is next on the scale. “She taught me how to read and write at an early age in her private moment and by so doing gave me a head-start in my academics,” he says.

He also has some fond memories of his father. The chairman of First City Group Limited, known for his decent and smart dress code in his active years as managing director and chief executive of First City Merchant Bank, now First City Monument Bank, says he picked that sense of fashion from the father. An acknowledged baron of the Nigerian Capital and Money Markets; doyen, pioneer and role model of entrepreneurial banking in Nigeria, Otunba Balogun in his retirement is today a constructive philanthropist and a distinguished church leader who has devoted substantial part of his private resources towards the care and service of the less privileged in his immediate community and Nigeria at large. A lover of children, he has built several institutions for the health care, welfare and survival of children.

. The Ijebus in Nigeria are generally known to be tight fisted how come he is this generous to the society. He found the question amusing. He laughed and then settled to answer it. “God has been so generous to me. He has blessed me beyond what I can ever imagine. When God blesses you, He expects to be a blessing to others. It is not for you alone to consume,” he pointed out. He sees this as a guiding principle of his lifeThe Philanthropist Otunba Balogun is a constructive philanthropist committed to the welfare of the less privileged and physically handicapped. He was the first in Nigeria as at 1987 to endow a Professorial Chair in a University when at the University of Ibadan he set up a Chair for Capital Market Studies in the Department of Economics and Finance. He also endowed a Research Fellowship in the Legal Department of the University of Lagos. He has equally donated to several altruistic causes in a number of institutions such as the Olabisi Onabanjo University (formerly Ogun State University), Yaba College of Technology, African Leadership Forum, among others.

Otunba Balogun took over, reconstructed, refurbished and perpetually endowed the maintenance of The Children’s Emergency Unit in the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan which has now been named after him, the “Otunba Tunwase Children’s Emergency Unit”. In 1989, he donated to the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital a newly built and fully equipped air-conditioned 40-bed Children’s Centre named after his mother,

“Iye Subomi’s Child Care Centre”. In addition, he made provision for the perpetual maintenance of the Children’s Centre. He has also actively supported and provided financial assistance to various local institutions, individuals and other charitable organisations. A few years ago, he donated a Police Post at Imoru in Ijebu-Ode District and he also built a Civic Centre named “Otunba Tunwase Civic Centre” for the Ijebu-Ode Club. He has also provided street lighting for the street named after his ancestor, Oba Adesimbo, Tunwase I, known as “Tunwase Drive”.

To date, he has awarded over 300 scholarships to many Nigerians at secondary and tertiary levels and about ten years ago, he endowed perpetually annual award of scholarships to the best students in Muslim College, Ijebu-Ode in honour of his late father; and also set up another scholarship endowment in honour of his mother known as “Iye Subomi Scholarship”. He has set up endowments for the Nigerian School for the Blind at Oshodi. About 14 years ago, he established an umbrella organization known as “Otunba Tunwase Foundation” to cater for all his philanthropic endeavours and services to the community. Under this Foundation, and on his 60th birthday, he commenced the construction of a special gift to the nation – the “Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre. This is a referral institution to cater for the health care, survival and welfare of the Nigerian Child and to provide an avenue for specialized studies and academic researches into all manners of children diseases and ailments. This project which has at today gulped over N600 million of Otunba’s personal resources was commissioned on his 70th birthday on 9th March Year 2004 and donated as a special gift to the nation. In August 2000 when he presented his memoirs, “The Cross, The Triumph and The Crown”, he specifically directed that all proceeds from the sale of the book should be channelled to the completion of the project.

Awards In August 1988, Otunba was elected a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management in recognition of his contribution to the development of Corporate Management and Leadership.

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