Meet Man Who Secured And Returned Alex Ekwueme’s Property After Civil War

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.
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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