Our Blog

AN EVENING WITH AN ICONIC PHILANTHROPIST AND BENEFACTOR: OTUNBA SUBOMI BALOGUN, CON

2019-02-21
It was not the first time a contingent of the University o Ibadan would be visiting the sprawling architectural master-piece abode of Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, the founder of First City Monument Bank, FCMB, and the Olori Omo Oba of Ijebu. But the reason for this particular visit was not different from that of the previous visits. It was yet another “thank you” visit prompted by another of Otunba Subomi Balogun’s kind gesture. A few days before the visit, the University of Ibadan had played host to Otunba Subomi Balogun on the occasion of the naming of the UI Hotels and Conference Centre after him. On that occasion, Otunba Subomi Balogun had announced a donation of ten million naira (N10,000,000) for the maintenance of the two monuments. This he pledged will be done on an annual basis. Otunba Balogun had earlier given about five million naira (N5,000,000) for the face lift of both the Hotels and the Conference Centre including the signage bearing his name. Chief Subomi Balogun is a phenomenon of an uncommon occurrence when you consider his philanthropist disposition. To date, he remains the biggest individual benefactor of the University of Ibadan having donated the multi-billion naira Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Centre, OTNPC, Ijebu-Ode to the University of Ibadan “lock, stock and barrel”. That was not all: He also ensured that he subsidized the salaries of the staff long after the hospital was handed over to the University. Today, that hospital’s scope has been expanded beyond paediatrics and now serves as an outpost of the University’s College of Medicine for the training of medical students Otunba Subomi Balogun is a man with a spirit of goodwill whose gesture of goodwill does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or religion. The University of Ibadan has also benefitted from this goodwill in no small measure. Five years ago, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, the iconic philanthropist had implored his friends in the letter of invitation to do as follows: Rather than anyone offering me a birthday present, I would with all due respect, urge all my friends, relations and admirers to join me in augmenting the Endowment of the Institution which I built for the upliftment of the healthcare, welfare and survival of children, particularly Nigerian, and which we named “The Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre”…… I have only recently transferred the institution as a total gift to the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, and is now a satellite campus. My family and I and Management of the Institution namely, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, would very much appreciate your supporting this humanitarian endeavour in lieu of any birthday present for me. No amount is too small. Please join the club of benefactors of the Institution by writing your cheque in the name of the club, “Friends of OTNPC”. That singular gesture brought into the coffers of the University over fifty million naira to which Otunba Subomi Balogun never intervened in the disbursement of the money. Added to this was the brand-new 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus donated to the Queen Elizabeth II Hall for the use of the handicapped residence of the Hall. It is also to be recalled that, Otunba Subomi Balogun was the pioneer Chairman of what has become the Business Outfit of the University of Ibadan, the UI Ventures Ltd, of which the UI Hotels and Conference Centre, now named after Otunba Tunwase, are subsidiaries. That venture, through the expertise and sacrifices of the Chairman and other members of the Board, has stood the test of time and survived the vagaries of different economic policies foisted on the country by successive administrations. Saying “thank you” to the Asiwaju Onigbagbo and the Olori Omo Oba of Ijebu by the University was therefore an obligation that cannot be excused for any reason. At any rate, the Yoruba for whose culture Otunba Subomi Balogun is a custodian liken an ingrate to a robber while noting that appreciation for one gesture of goodwill induces in the benefactor a disposition to repeat the gesture. Back to this last visit. It was an evening when Otunba was in a relaxed mood. He took time to give the University of Ibadan delegation, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, FAS, an homily on kindness. He described himself as a product of great grace adding that it is in not taking the grace of God for granted that he feels compelled to lend a helping hand to the needy. Taking the UI delegation through his life story, Otunba Subomi Balogun insisted that it was the grace of God and not his wisdom or hard work that saw him through the ploys of many of those that tried to negate the plans of his creator for him – an experience captured in his book aptly entitled “The Cross, the Pain and Gain, copies of which he gladly distributed to some of those on the Vice-Chancellor’s entourage. Otunba Subomi Balogun announced with glee that he would remain committed to a life of giving and worship for the rest of his life in appreciation of the goodness of God. Of course, it was not all about speeches. There is no way you would visit the abode of Otunba Subomi Balogun, either in Ijebu-Ode or in Ikoyi, Lagos, without a taste of the culinary expertise of his team of Philippine Chefs whose menu would tempt even the most jaded palate. And for those who wonder if Otunba Subiomi’s love for and affinity to the University of Ibadan has anything to do with an academic sojourn in the University, here is a cue to your curiosity. Otunba Subomi Balogun is a honorary alumnus of the University having been conferred with a Doctor of Law, LLD (Honoris Causa) in 1989 but his relationship with the University of Ibadan predates that conferment. His love for his bossom friend, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University, according to him, must have been responsible for his love for the University of Ibadan, a love that time and circumstances cannot change. Otunba Michael Oladimeji Olayiwola Subomi Balogun, CON, LLD, lawyer, banker, a trail blazer, Grand Master in the business world and a phenomenon of an uncommon occurrence in philanthropy, turns 85 on Saturday March 9, 2019. The University of Ibadan wishes him many more years in the land of the living and prosperity in health and wealth.