DOING PHILATRANTHROPY AS IF HIS LIFE DEPENDS ON JUST THAT
Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun
The life of one of the greatest Nigerian philanthropists, Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, Commander of the Order of the Niger, is best epitomized by the in the postulations of famed Andrew:Carnegie in his treatise: ‘The Gospel of Wealth’’ in which he asserted that:‘’ Poor and restricted are our opportunities in this life; narrow our horizon; our best work most imperfect; but rich men should be thankful for one inestimable boon.: ‘’They have it in their power ,during their lives to busy themselves in organizing benefactions from which the masses of their fellows will derive lasting advantage, and thus dignify their own lives’’. With this, we kick off this expose on a great humanist, who has over the past few decades lived his life implementing charitable activities just as if his life depends on doing that. We kick off with some relevant quotes:
SAYINGS OF THE WISE
‘’I think our job as parents is to give our kids roots to grow and wings to fly.’’ — Deborah Norville
‘’The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.’’ — Gilbert K. Chesterton
‘’Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you’’ — H. Jackson Brown Jr.
ANTECEDENTS: Early in life, Michael Olasubomi Balogun, (aka Subomi Balogun) set a standard that he sought to follow throughout his working life; and succeeded in carving a special ability for himself as a merchant,, groomed as a Lawyer and boardroom player, whose hands on experiences working experiences contributed immensely to his charting a course, in his interesting terrestrial journey full of achievements and challenges. The story of his successes is characterized by his ability to confront challenges headlong; as a condition essential for ‘’levelling the mountains.’’ Balogun was born in 1934 when a strong incident of hailstones occurred; which his people in his native town of Ijebu-Ode considered a sign of great things to happen. He finished his secondary school education at the age of 18 years, in Division 1; after which he went to the Nigerian College of Arts and Science. Balogun chose to study, arising from the feelings of empathy the developed, having met Prince Adedokun Haastrup, a senior civil servant who was private secretary to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as premier of Western-Region; and later worked as a Divisional Officer in Ijebu-Ode. Soon, Balogun’s dream to study Law in the United Kingdom materialized.
During his final year, Chief Awolowo and Chief Rotimi Williams wanted the London School of Economics, to inquire for an intelligent student of Western-Region origin. They followed the request up by asking that the person nominated be trained as a parliamentary draftsman who would draft laws. Subomi was picked and this earned him a Western Region gave me scholarship. In accordance with the extant regulations, he joined the service of Western-Region service after being called to the English Bar in December 1959; and followed by a stint at the British Parliament. Back home, Subomi Balogun served government as a Crown Counsel in both the Ministry of Justice of the then Western Nigeria and subsequently as Assistant Parliamentary Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos. He moved over to the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank in 1966. He pushed for the NIDB, to establish a merchant bank sponsored by NIDB. When ICON securities, took off in 1973 as a subsidiary of NIDB, Balogun moved to ICON Ltd as a director of operations.
He was, without any doubt, an aristocrat in his impressionable ages, given the standards of the society in which he grew up, having originated from the family of a court clerk and businessman. A man of very strong convictions, Balogun was, and is still stylish dressed; an attribute that won him the admiration of ladies. But, he made up his mind not to go into a marital union until the age of 34 years, because it is a life-long affair into which he chose not to hurry.
When he chose to marry later in life, Baba Olasubomi Balogun got a ‘’good catch’’ which still confirms that he is a man of style. Whoever has seen his wife, Olori Abimbola Balogun, would testify to meeting an epitome of beauty; and will simply agree that Balogun has a knack for taste. Abimbola was 21 years old when they met and the love waxes stronger by the day. Subomi and Abimbola Balogun do all things in common: both stylishly dressed, refined and move around like Siamese twins. His lobe for appearance in white outfits is a sign of purity of heart. Not that I am pious but I am at peace with everyone and I make sure you are relaxed around me. I treat people the way I want to be treated. To him, his wife, Abimbola is a sort of inseparable companion who is adored. And in their advanced ages, the couple still love to sit down, relax and chat about the old times.
The family’s four children – all boys — Bolaji, Jide, Ladi and Gboyega; are in successful careers. The first son, Bolaji -is the founder of financial advisory services firm, Chapel Hill Denham. He married from the family of Frank Aig-Imoukhuede. Otunba Balogun is an in-law to billionaire Chief Sonny Odoqwu, Ide- Asaba, by virtue of the marriage of Jide Balogun to Uche, Odogwu’s daughter. The third child, Ladi Balogun – is the Group Managing Director of FCMB Group, while Gboyega is the Managing Director of CSL Stockbrokers Ltd, one of the subsidiaries of FCMB Group.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Otunba Subomi Balogun founded FCMB in 1979, and served as the bank’s Chairman & Chief Executive for the first twenty years of existence. During this period, the bank surged to gain a sound footing after which the founder retired and was replaced by his son. As a community leader, Balogun is the head; Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, conferred on him by a foremost royal father in Yorubaland, His Royal Majesty, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona. The new Otunba Subomi Conference Centre at the University of Ibadan comprises five halls that have the capacity to accommodate between 3,000 and 5,000 guests in the main auditorium; and about 7, 000 guests in the entire complex.
BALOGUN & PHILANTHROPY: This is one area in which Balogun’s name has entered the positive pages of history. He has spoken a few times about the urge to do good. He believes that the Creator endows people with wealth wants the affluent to use for public good; hence the need for Him to be the Guide and make the rich horses to be ridden by the poor wishing to cross some milestones in life. Subomi Balogun’s outstanding philanthropy dates back to the 1980s. The University College Teaching Hospital, Ibadan got a dose of the Otuba Tunwase Paediatrics Centre that cost several millions on naira. Not too long ago, the University of Conference Centre was unveiled and renamed Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre.
The university said the gesture was to: ‘’appreciate the numerous and significant contributions to the development of the institution, education and the country over the years’’ In the larger society, he has deployed his resources to towards the care and service of humanity. He was also the first in Nigeria, through First City Merchant Bank Limited (now First City Monument Bank, a member of FCMB Group), 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. Otunba Balogun, in 2014, entirely donated to the University of Ibadan, the Otunba Tunwase Paediatric Hospital (the largest in Nigeria) which he built in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, a facility said to be worth N4billion.
Otunba Subomi Balogun has surely stamped his imprints on the sands of time. On his 83rd birthday, the FCMB had cause to pay this tribute: ‘’Over the years, this icon of our time has distinguished himself with rare altruism—sleeping, waking and thinking about how to impact positively on communities and people, especially the less privileged in his society. Philanthropy is almost always an interesting pastime for those who have the giving spirit and for Otunba Balogun, it goes beyond a pastime to what could be seen as a creed, hence he set up the ‘Otunba Tunwase Foundation’ through which he ventilates his philanthropic spirit in services to the community.’’
His views on quality education was reflected in his speech at the 70th Founder;’s Day Lecture of the University of Ibadan “It is incumbent on those of us who have been blessed with education, particularly higher education, to continue to give back, especially to those institutions that shaped us. Education can never be entirely funded by government or private fees.. ‘’Many of the greatest institutions in the world have endowments running into hundreds of millions of dollars; and that it is with these endowments that they have been able to fund researches and build future leaders, innovators and change agents.’’