The Founder of FCMB Group, Otunba (Dr.) Olasubomi Balogun, CON, has described education as one of the critical drivers of development of any society. He said this at the University of Ibadan’s 70th Anniversary Life Achievement and Honours Awards Night which recently held at the University of Ibadan main campus in Ibadan, Oyo State. It was an event that was the highlight of all the programmes lined up to mark the 70th anniversary of the university which was started in 1948 at Eleyele, Ibadan.
In a lecture, Otunba Balogun, who is also the Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, called on well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to support the development and growth of education in Nigeria with their resources. He said, ‘’It is incumbent on those of us that 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”
He said many of the greatest institutions in the world had endowments running into hundreds of millions of dollars. And it is with these endowments that they have been able to fund research and build tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and change agents.
Chairing the occasion and represented at the event by the Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, Mr Ladi Balogun, Dr Balogun in a paper titled, “Higher Education and Philanthropy”, sought the nexus between Higher Education and Philanthropy. Well known for his deep philanthropy in Nigeria and beyond, particularly in education, healthcare, children and women welfare, religion and culture to mention a few, he revealed to the audience that a lot of the charitable undertakings associated with him, had been deeply influenced by Higher Education he was privileged to go through.
Typical of an astute historian, the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians drew from his rich experience, academic profile and personal life encounters to drive home the importance of education in the nation’s overall development. The Finance icon posited that Education has the capacity to stimulate a high sense of philanthropy in any individual who has benefitted from it. He opined, “I would also add that supporting education is one of the most effective means one can contribute to the betterment of society and upliftment of the less privileged”.
Otunba Balogun said as he grew up, he had a lot of influences which shaped his attitude to life generally and to his community. He became very concerned about his environment and the plight of people and institutions that had been close to him. He had gradually developed spiritually and emotionally and therefore began to consider the need to pay attention to philanthropy. The Grand Master of the Nigerian Finance Sector also linked the influence to both God and the divine guidance he began to experience which led to his being concerned about his environment and fellow human beings.
Amongst other distinguished Nigerians, nearly 40 years ago, the University of Ibadan had honoured Otunba Subomi Balogun, with Doctor of Law (Honouris Causa). At another time, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, named after him, their Children’s Emergency Ward, “the Otunba Tunwase Children’s Emergency Ward”. Recently, the University of Ibadan renamed its Conference Centre and UI Hotels’ facilities “Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre and Hotels”. However, and as a further contribution to welfare and survival of children, to serve as an external institution owned by the University of Ibadan, recall that on his 80th birthday, the Banking Guru handed over to the University Medical School, as a total gift, the exclusive Paediatric institution, one of its first and largest in Nigeria worth over N4billion in the current market value.
Besides the Chairman of First City Monument Bank Limited’s Board Chairman, Otunba Olutola Senbore, some of the distinguished Nigerians who received awards from the institution at this event were: President/Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University, Prof. Ademola Tayo; a former Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Adeniyi Osuntogun; and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan.
Also on the list of awardees were Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello; Vice-Chancellor, Crawford University, Prof. Rotimi Ajayi; Prof. Aderemi Kuku; Prof. Babatunde Salako; Prof. Benedict Oramah; Prof. Timothy Tayo; Prof. Abdul Fattah Mabadeje and Prof. Saida Mabadeje who was the first female PhD holder produced by UI in 1963; Prof. Folorunso Adu and Prof. Folarin Olawale Shyllon. Also included were Professors Bode Akindele, Grace Alele-Williams, Bolanle Awe and Akin Mabogunje, among others.