The founder of the FCMB Group, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun is known for philanthropy, thanksgiving and prayer. These facets of his persona were evident at the annual New Year thanksgiving service held at his Tunwase Court, Ijebu-Ode home in Ogun State.
Otunba Balogun, who is the Asiwaju (leader) of Ijebu Christians and also the Olori Omooba of Ijebu used the occasion to explain the significance of this annual rite and also the imminent milestone 60th anniversary of Oba Sikiru Adetona on the throne as the Awujale of Ijebuland.
The annual thanksgiving and prayer service
The event was created by the first Asiwaju of ijebu Christians, the late Chief Adeola Odutola. It is all meant to bring the leaders together to thank God for past mercies and to pray for future activities or endeavours. I live in Lagos. The event gives me an opportunity of bringing folks together to join me in thanking God for what the Good Lord has done for me and my entire family and my entire environment and to ask for His beneficence as well as to guide me the way I should spend the new year.
I use it as an opportunity as the Asiwaju of ijebu Christians to bring together, not just Christians, but all the citizenry ––Christians, Muslims, anyone –– to let them have reason to thank God for how He has brought them to see a new year and ask for His mercies and guidance in the New Year. This is something I do a lot in my private moment as well as in gathering like this, where Christians are gathered; because of the Ijebu mission, I try to bring everybody, even if you are an animist, you are welcome. In fact, I can’t do without inviting Muslims because my late father was a Muslim. I thank God that I have joined the league of many outstanding Ijebus, many outstanding Christians who came from Muslim homes. We are a legion. We are proud of them. The first bishop from Ijebu was a Muslim. Another bishop, his father was Chief Imam. The most outstanding Ijebu so far, Chief Adeola Odutola was also from a Muslim home. Many prominent people come from a Muslim background, including me. I come from a Muslim home and I got myself converted at the age of 13 while at Igbobi College.
So, in my annual thanksgiving, I always like to invite not only Christians, but the Muslims also, as well as other people, whether they worship God or not, [so] I can encourage them to think of the Almighty God, the Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Two milestone events in 2020
We should all turn our face and mind toward the Almighty God, the giver of all good things, thanking the Good Lord for bringing both the Awujale and the Nigerian nation thus far. Everybody knows that Awujale and I are very close. We were born the same year. We touched and still touch the lives of each other. If you ever read the autobiographies of both the Awujale and I, you would see that we devoted some pages to talk about the other. I am a person who gives thanks. I want to thank God for him. I want to ask God to continue to show His smiling face and grace on him. By the time he clocked 60 [on the throne] on April 2 this year, that could have been a record in the annals of traditional Obaship. Many of us who are close to him are happy for him. There has been illustrious others in Ijebu, not many of them have been so gifted. Whenever the time comes, he would be remembered for the indelible footprints he has left on the annals of Ijebu––but I am praying that that would not come until we are both 100. We both have the willpower and by the grace of God, we shall make it.
On Nigeria: God gives us the grace to make Nigeria a great country. Like any growing institution, we have our problems; why we have not disappeared from the face of the earth is because of the grace of God. Nigeria and Nigerians are not infallible; we have made our mistakes, but the grace of God has been with us. So I will ask you to pray for this nation that the Good Lord will continue to guide and we would have a nation about which all of us would be proud, a nation that will put God first, a nation that will go for spiritual edification, a nation that will think of holistic growth––a growth in the citizenry, not just numerical growth, but growing to become a nation that serves and obey the Almighty.
I have a friend, we have been over 60 years together as friends. We started from London School of Economics. Today, we are both in our middle 80s. But if you see both of us coming out to an event or just walking within our compounds, you will join us in thanking God for what He has done for us. So I am wishing both my friend the Awujale, as well as my country, the grace of the Almighty God.