It takes a master-vision to create a masterpiece. For the octogenarian banking legend, Otunba Olasubomi Olaotan Olanipekun Balogun, almost two decades after retiring from active banking, he is still wielding much influence in Nigeria’s banking sector. Some even argue that he has as much influence after his retirement as he did while he was still active as Chairman and CEO of the first wholly-owned Nigerian merchant bank – FCMB. At 86, one would have expected this old dandy tycoon to be retired from the hustle, rather he is showing no signs of slowing down as he advances in years. Just as he has been making fortunes from his banking days, the stylish billionaire is unrelenting and on his way to becoming the richest property owner in Lagos. Spotlight learnt that a few years ago, he envisioned for the ritzy precinct of Ikoyi, Lagos —due to its limited land availability— some elegant towers featuring rich residential apartments with striking façade and well appointed services. He put to work his entrepreneurial spirit and deep pocket to deliver a new hallmark for sophisticated urban living with a choice of spacious luxury apartments, lavish duplexes and penthouses somewhere right off the famous Bourdillon Road in Ikoyi. According to a certain multi-billionaire during a chat with Spotlight, he admitted that living in this Otunba Subomi’s new luxury highrise is as exclusive as it gets. He confessed to have been dazed by the sheer opulence of the luxury apartments and had to bribe the security operatives watching over the magnificent property to have a peek of it. Bowled over by what he saw, this billionaire —who is also reputed to own a rich portfolio of epic properties in Lagos and London— had to purchase two of the apartments —each going for about $1.5 million— from Otunba Subomi.
It was learnt that this new multi-billion naira luxury residential building of the Ijebu-Ode-born business mogul was coming in the wake of his recently completed Heritage Place, another magnificent structure occupying a pride of place on the skyline of Lagos Island. The 13-storey plaza —situated on Lugard Road by Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi— is not your conventional rentable space either; it is a world-class edifice with contemporary security and safety fittings. Despite a fee of about $1000 per square meter for interested tenants, the tastefully designed and well-proportioned highrise has seen an appreciable proportion of occupancy.
Like an experienced hunter, he has become an expert in turning ideas into concrete realities. That much was evident in the way he also turned his erstwhile Victoria Island mansion into another commercial abode. It will be recalled that sometime in 2013, while he, like many others of his class, found Victoria Island too busy and boisterous, he moved out of his popular 1, Sanusi Fafunwa Street white mansion into a more sedated Ikoyi. To prove that he’s more than mere threads of thought, Otunba Subomi demolished the old mansion to give way for another magnificent masterpiece handled by construction giant, G-Cappa. There is no gainsaying that he is a mix of business and blood royalty. He designed his new imposing, palatial mansion sitting strategically at the junction of Milverton Road, Ikoyi to resemble that of the American seat of power, White House. Sources even said that once Otunba is around, all the flags hoisted atop the columned mansion flown fully but if it’s lowered to half-staff, then the billionaire is not around. Aside all the megawatt properties in Lagos, he also holds major London and New York real estate parcels in his portfolio fetching him handsome returns on his investment. He is not all about raking in money as he recently donated some properties for a worthy cause: his Otunba Tunwase National Pediatrics Centre worth about N5 billion, located at Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State was donated to the University of Ibadan, its College of Medicine and the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State. It is worthy of note that he and men of his generation amassed giant fortunes because they were in the right place and knew the right people when Nigeria began nationalizing its oil in the early 1970s. Yes, he is four years shy of 90, but Spotlight gathered that the billionaire is gunning for a century. To achieve that, the he is said to have adopted regular exercise. He is said to still use the staircase in his mansion in Ikoyi despite having an elevator installed.