Okowa, Uduaghan, others mourn
Abimbola Akosile in Lagos and Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
The one-time Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, passed on in the early hours of yesterday at Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, at the age of 80.
His death was confirmed by an unnamed senior member of the Ibru family, who also disclosed that the remains of the former senator had been deposited in the morgue.
Ibru, who was a renowned architect and business tycoon, was said to have died shortly after returning from London where he had been receiving medical attention.
Ibru, who was elected governor of Delta State in 1992 under the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) before his tenure was terminated by the military regime of General Sani Abacha, held the position of President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU).
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, in a condolence message to the Ibru Family over the death of former governor, described him as a patriot and political icon.
Okowa urged the entire Ibru family to take solace in the fact that he led a glorious and fulfilled life of service to humanity.
He noted that Ibru governed Delta State at a time the young state had numerous teething problems but piloted its affairs with patriotic zeal and rare equanimity.
Okowa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, “said the late Senator Ibru was “a patriot and political icon who led the state in her embryonic stage.”
The governor said, “Senator Ibru will be missed by all whose lives he has touched in many diverse ways in his very fulfilled and achievements-laden life.”
He described Senator Ibru as a renowned politician, businessman and a highly revered octogenarian and among the very special people who made very significant and indelible contributions to their countries and humanity.
Describing his death as “the exit of a legend,” Okowa said he joined his family, friends, associates, and fans across the world “in giving thanks to God Almighty for his glorious life of service to Delta State, Nigeria and mankind at large.”.
He said, “Senator Ibru’s “life-long dedication and indefatigable commitment to serving the people of Delta State as well as the Urhobos worldwide where he served them meritoriously as Senator and as President of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) will be sorely missed.”
He, however, assured the Ibru family that the former governor would always be celebrated and honoured by all and sundry in Nigeria “for his unblemished service and exemplary career which had inspired others to take up a life of selfless service to humanity.”
Okowa’s predecessor, former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, in his reaction to Ibru’s death, said he lived an unblemished, rewarding life worth emulating.
Uduaghan said: “Though it is saddening to lose a patriot like Chief Ibru, we are comforted by the fact that he set the stage for the new Delta as the first civilian governor of the state. Even though his regime was truncated, he was an unrepentant patriot who as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria worked tirelessly to ensure that the unity of the country was non-negotiable.
“I recall with nostalgia, his role and fatherly interventions in our peace agenda as President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union where he brought to bear his characteristic humility.
“Though a sad loss, we are comforted that he left a legacy that would stand the test of time. He will be remembered for his principled and irrepressible position on issues of national importance. I commiserate with the Ibru Family, especially the patriarch, Olorogun Michael Ibru, and pray the Almighty God will give them the fortitude to bear this great loss.”
Also reacting to his death, the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) said the news of the transition of the former governor, came to his kith and kin in Urhobo Nation as “a rude shock”.
Speaking with THISDAY last night, the public relations officer (PRO) of the Interim Committee of the UPU, Chief Josiah Ntekume, said, “A good heart has stopped beating; a good soul ascended to Heaven. We part with our beloved former P-G of UPU, first executive governor of Delta State, Olorogun Felix Ibru in pain. May God grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Similarly, right activist and former governorship aspirant, Dr Otive Igbuzor, described Ibru’s passing as “very painful and a great blow to Delta State and Urhobo Nation in particular.”
Born on December 7, 1935 at Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North local government area of Delta State to Chief Peter Epete Ibru and Chief (Mrs.) Janet Omotogor Ibru, he was the second of seven children.
After his secondary school education at Igbobi College, he proceeded to the Nottingham School of Architecture in England where he qualified as an architect in 1962.
While a student in Nottingham, he was elected the first Black President of the British Council with responsibility for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.
As a result, he was presented to Queen Elizabeth II and his Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in 1960.
Shortly after his qualification as an architect in 1962, he worked briefly with the Jewish Agency SOCHNUT, on various projects relating to farm settlements (kibbutzim and moshavim) and prefabricated buildings in Jerusalem and Haifa.
He later enrolled at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology for post-graduate studies and qualified with an MSc (Arch) in 1963. He returned to Nigeria at the end of that year and took up an appointment with the Federal Ministry of Education as the first resident Lecturer in Architecture at the Yaba College of Technology.
Ibru established an architectural firm, Roye Ibru Associates, which, in 1971, went into partnership with Alan Vaughan-Richards and Associates to establish the firm of Ibru Vaughan-Richards and Associates (Planning Partnership). As one of the two principal partners of the firm, late Ibru was involved in the design and supervision of more than 40 projects across the country.
They include: University of Lagos Sports Centre, Oguta Lake Resort, The Diette-Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, Office extension for Elf Nig. Ltd. Victoria Island, Lagos University master plan, New Layout Market, Port Harcourt, Mile 3 Diobu Market, Port Harcourt, Sheraton Lagos Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, University of Benin sports centre, University of Benin Master plan, Faculty of Science buildings, University of Benin & Ogun State, Ogun State Polytechnic Master plan.
As consultant to Ibru Prefabs Limited he was responsible for the design and supervision of several Geodesic Domes of various dimensions in many parts of the country.