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Tribute to Otunba Balogun

Otunba Subomi Balogun officially Hands over Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Centre to UI and UCH

31 May, 2023

Some people who know me well often argue that everything that I do or say is deliberate and that, when asked, I often have a reason for what I do or say. You may not agree with my reason, but you will recognise or accept that I do have a reason for whatever I do and I generally will not change my position unless a superior argument emerges and/or new facts come to light.

If the foregoing sounds like I am describing myself, then you missed the point – it is one of the most powerful things that I learnt from the late Otunba Balogun, the Founder of First City Monument Bank (FCMB). I am referring here to the dogged and unrelenting pursuit of his dreams/ideas. He literarily obtained FCMB’s banking licence by wearing down his detractors and the naysayers.

Like Otunba or hate him, if he took an “inflexible” position, then invariably he had a good reason for it. His actions were never random, thoughtless or meaningless. If you thought any of them were, then you never knew the man – the Colossus, in his lifetime.

So why do I address this tribute to “Otunba Balogun” and not to “Otunba Subomi Balogun” or “Otunba Michael Olasubonmi Balogun”? Of course, it is deliberate. It is because, during the last two decades of his life, I never needed to explain to anybody which Balogun I was referring to if I mentioned “Otunba Balogun”. Nobody ever asked me a follow-up question such as: “Which Otunba Balogun are you referring to”? I am not aiming to be disrespectful to others bearing the Balogun surname. Nor have I checked if indeed there is or was another Balogun who was also an Otunba. It is unnecessary, because context matters in life. If I was also an investment banker and a younger Bank CEO and/or Bank Chairman for periods that overlapped with part of Otunba Balogun’s own tenure as a Bank CEO and/or a Bank Chairman, then there are no prizes for guessing that there was only one Otunba Balogun in my own life and industry circles.

Read also:In memoriam: 10 things Nigerians will miss about Olasubomi Balogun

There is no second Otunba Balogun in my life and industry circle and there can never be, because my own banking career is essentially over, save for sitting on the boards of Standard Bank Group Limited (parent company of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC) and The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited.

Apart from having a good reason for everything that he did, Otunba Balogun obviously had both “style” and “confidence” in enormous proportions. He believed he could move mountains – and he often did.

Long before IBTC (now Stanbic IBTC) was formed in February 1989, Otunba Balogun once offered me a job. I sat with him for one hour – we had lunch together. It was essentially a job interview over lunch. We discussed succession planning and other sensitive matters. It would suffice to say we both realised and agreed that his idea could not work. We parted as friends and remained friends ever since, even though we were not mates by any stretch of the imagination.

In due course there was healthy competition and Investment Banking rivalry between FCMB and IBTC throughout the 1990s, but it was born out of mutual respect and therefore never got nasty – Otunba made sure of that.

Goodbye Grandmaster.

You came, you saw and you conquered.🙏🏽

Atedo Peterside is the President & Founder of Anap Foundation and the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC

Twitter: @AtedoPeterside