Home news BIAFRAN WAR: Meet Man Who Secured And Returned Alex Ekwueme’s Property After...

BIAFRAN WAR: Meet Man Who Secured And Returned Alex Ekwueme’s Property After The War

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The Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) otherwise
known as ‘Biafran War’ may have come and gone, the memory still lingers
on. One interesting feature of the civil strife is that whenever it is discussed,
it tends to throw up a fresh dimension and new story line to the over-30 months
mayhem.
From snuffing out some of our great war heroes to how
people fled for safety outside their once-comfortable abode, the tale is
endless.
One of my favourite journalists cum historians, Dare Babarinsa, has an archive that is
replete with such articles. In a recent narrative, one of such private stories
concerns a young banker, who had a house in Apapa G.R.A. His neighbour then was
a young Igbo architect.
The architect fled in the wake of the crisis and
relocated to the Eastern Nigeria enclave of the ill-fated Republic of Biafra. When the war ended in 1970, the
architect returned to Lagos and the banker not only returned the house to the
owner, he had kept all the proceeds of the rent for him in the bank.
Guess
who the banker is?
That young banker is Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun, the founder of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and the
architect in this narrative is one of Africa’s elder statesmen and former Vice
President of the Republic of Nigeria, Dr.
Alex Ekwueme
. While Otunba Balogun, a first class prince of Ijebuland and Commander
of the Order of the Niger (CON) was somewhat different like other Yoruba kinsmen
in other parts of the West, we know what happened to abandoned properties in
other parts of the Federation.
The
story did not just end there.
Ekwueme was to repay such unusual kindness and generosity
a decade later when he emerged as deputy president in Shehu Shagari’s government (1979-1983).
Balogun, a trained lawyer-turned-banker, explained that his major turnaround, facilitated
by the former vice president, occurred when he was desperately seeking to
secure the licence for his bank. 
This was how the 84-year-old puts in his interview
with Top Celebrities Magazine:
“When I wanted to set up a bank, many people saw it as
an anathema, something unheard of. Some even claimed that I was a protégé of a
particular politician and so they went about saying ‘Don’t give him any licence!’
If you give him a licence, he would use it to finance someone else.
Some people thought it was crazy for a man to say he
wanted to set up a bank. My stroke of fortune however turned out to be my
relationship with former vice-president Alex Ekwueme.
Ekwueme and I had been friends for a long time
before politics (as mentioned earlier). I even advised him not to go into
politics but at that time, he was already the vice president.
One day, he was coming to the cathedral. I planned
with my wife that we were going to waylay him. While he was coming down that
aisle, I broke the cordon, pulled the vice-president’s cloth; my wife pulled
the cloth of his wife. The security people thought we were mad.
Alex looked at me and said, “Subomi, what is the
problem?”
I said, “Mr. Vice-President, where is my licence?”
He looked at his entourage and asked them to excuse us.
It was there that he instructed me to come and see him at Dodan Barracks. Of course, that was after he had hinted me on those
behind my plight. In fact, he further disclosed that somebody from our own part
of the world (Yorubaland) had confided
in them that if they give it to that man, he is going to give his money to (Obafemi) Awolowo.
Alex reassured, “Don’t worry yourself, Subomi! Just
come on Thursday at the Federal Executive Council meeting which I would preside
because President Shehu Shagari would not be there.”
By 3.00pm, Alex asked the minister of finance, Yomi
Akintola to phone that my licence was ready. I shouted and said God has saved me.
I am just giving you this landmark to show how Alex has formed part of my
success story and that I am a chosen child of God,” he concluded.
Well, you will agree with me that it pays to be good
regardless of tribe, sex and language.

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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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