The Nigerian business world was thrown into mourning on Friday, May 19th, 2023, when the news broke that Otunba Subomi Balogun, the founder of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), and Olori Omoba of Ijebuland, had passed away at the age of 89 in London.

Otunba Balogun was a trailblazer and a true icon in the Nigerian banking landscape, who pioneered investment banking and indigenous financial entrepreneurship in the country. He was also a philanthropist, a devout Christian, and a respected Ijebu chief.

Born into a prominent family in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on March 9th, 1934, Otunba Balogun had a distinguished academic career.

He attended Ijebu-Ode Grammar School and CMS Grammar School in Lagos before proceeding to study law at the London School of Economics. He was called to the English Bar in 1959 and to the Nigerian Bar in 1961. He started his legal practice at Olu Ayoola and Co., where he rose to become a partner. He later established his own law firm, Balogun, Badejo and Co.

Otunba Balogun’s foray into the financial sector began in 1973 when he joined the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB) as an executive director. He was instrumental in setting up the bank’s merchant banking arm, ICON Limited (Merchant Bankers), which he later headed as the managing director and chief executive officer.

In 1977 he founded City Securities Ltd, Nigeria’s first institution to serve as both an issuing house and a stock brokerage outfit. This was later transformed into First City Merchant Bank in 1982.

In 1982, he established his own merchant bank, First City Merchant Bank Limited (FCMB), which was the first bank to be established in Nigeria without government or foreign support.

FCMB quickly became a leading player in the Nigerian financial market, 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 beyond Nigeria, establishing subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.

The name changed from First City Merchant Bank to First City Monument Bank in 2001, following FCMB’s transformation to a universal bank.FCMB transformed into a universal bank, offering retail banking services alongside its core investment banking activities.

Otunba Balogun retired as the group chief executive of FCMB in 2006, after 27 years of visionary leadership. He remained the chairman of the board until 2010 when he handed over to his son, Ladi Balogun. He also relinquished his majority shareholding in FCMB to a trust for the benefit of his children and charity. He remained an honorary life president of FCMB until his death.

Otunba Balogun was not only a successful banker but also a generous philanthropist. He established the Otunba Tunwase Foundation in 1986 to provide health care, education, and welfare for children and the less privileged.

He also donated a multi-billion naira pediatric centre to the University of Ibadan and endowed several chairs and scholarships at various universities. He was a patron of many professional bodies and associations, such as the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).

Family life

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.