First City Monument Bank, FCMB

Crises are part of our being as human, they come in different forms. Ability to crawl out of them makes one stronger. These are definitely not the best of times for the White House of the Nigerian banking sector.

Chief Subomi Balogun and his First City Monument Bank (FCMB) are grappling with the effect of what has become a viral scandal. There are widespread allegations that the Managing Director of the bank, Adam Nuru and a former employee, Moyo Thomas, got too close for comfort.

It is pretty difficult for me to wade into this crisis because only God knows the truth. At the same time, there are earthly avenues to sort things out. Until these are fulfilled, it does not sound tidy to jump into conclusions.

Even in law, an accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. This is also not exactly the case of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

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I have drawn biblical allusions here because Chief Balogun will be a sad man now. One has to understand where he is coming from and why this trending scandal is not only a huge embarrassment but a pain in the neck.

The founder of FCMB has never failed to credit God for all he has achieved in his almost 87 years of existence. Life has not been a bed of roses, yes. Out of vicissitudes came the monumental white structures littered all over.

Born a Moslem, the Ijebu prince converted to Christianity early enough and owes much of his moulding to teacher Festus Oluwole Segun of Igbobi College, Lagos. The mentor climbed up the ladder in the Anglican Church.

Bishop Segun was provost of the Cathedral Church of God, Marina, Lagos for 10 years before moving to the North as Bishop of Northern Nigeria. In 1975, he returned to Lagos to replace Seth Irunsewe Kale as Bishop and served until 1985 when Moses Adetiloye stepped in.

That upbringing became the force that worked positively towards the establishment of First City Merchant Bank in 1982. Reward may not come immediately in any good we do. The lesson is to be good at all times.

During the war when many from the Eastern part of the country fled to Biafra, they did not reckon with some of the after-effects. Landlords in Port Harcourt were forced to die of a heart attack simply because the houses which they sweated to build had been taken away and labelled ‘ Abandoned Property’.

In Lagos, Balogun had a neighbour, Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme. The house Ekwueme built was maintained by his buddy while many did not get the same treatment. Balogun thus helped his pal to bounce back to life in good time while his erstwhile millionaire brothers were further pauperized by a miserly 20 pounds decree.

Good begets good. In 1979, Ekwueme became Vice President of Nigeria. He worshipped at the same Cathedral Church of Christ, known to Bishop Segun and Chief Balogun. You would not believe what happened inside that church.

Chief Balogun had been struggling to get licence for a merchant bank. Bureaucracy tossed him up and down and was almost going to push his dreams into the blue Marina across the church.

He got to church early enough and wanted his friend, the Vice President, to just say hello. Tight security would not let that be. The chief and his wife did not give up. One of them had to touch Ekwueme’s Ishi Agu attire, like the woman with the issue of blood did in the Bible.

That was the miracle. Ekwueme turned, saw his friend and wife. Right there inside the church, Balogun opened up on his banking licence frustrations and the Vice President asked him to consider it done.

That was how Balogun who had left ICON Merchant Bank as Executive Director became the first Nigerian to solely set up a merchant bank. First City Monument Bank, FCMB, was therefore born in a church near the Lagoon.

You see why holiness means a lot. This story of Adam and Eve may be part of temptation. It is morally wrong to sleep with another woman while you are legally married. The court and DNA tests may have to come in.

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It is also wrong to condemn an organisation simply because two employees were alleged to have gone too close to themselves. This is like calling all Nigerians looters because some politicians are busy pillaging our commonwealth.

I feel for the two children who have become objects of ridicule. No test has been carried out to determine that they do not belong to Dayo Thomas. May his soul rest in peace. Many are condemning Moyo. The man at the centre, Nuru, has not spoken.

I think there are many hypocrites around us. Marital issues are not solved through social media. Some of those who are shouting crucify him are worse than he-goats. They are making life miserable for these kids.

In all these, I know calm will return. I want to enjoy more of First City Monument Bank, FCMB, Christmas carols. Chief Balogun loves children, which caused him to donate his Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Center, Ijebu Ode to the University of Ibadan.

The guilty should be afraid. Truth will prevail. An acting MD, Yemisi Edun, has taken over. She was one of the three Executive Directors. And out of the three, two are women. Definitely, the bank allowed them to climb on merit.

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