By Henry Muogho
The elder statesmen needed a secretary to take the minutes of their meeting and my chairman, Olorogun Michael Ibru ordered me to take the minutes. On getting to the room on Louis Solomon Close, where the meeting was to take place, some of the members expressed the concern that I was too young and probably incompetent to do a good job.
Uncle Felix, as we called him, expressed the confidence that if his elder brother sent me, then I must be capable of taking the minutes. He was fond of saying that “what I learned from my elder brother is that you can have failures and keep going.”
Some years back, his eldest nephew and my principal, Olorogun Oskar Ibru and I visited his GRA home in Ikeja and in an incisive conversation he told us that some people argued that Christianity has failed. “They point to a world aflame with war, and they say that the principles that Christ teaches are too high, that men will never live their lives according to his precepts.”
He suggested that the pessimists might be correct “perhaps the world could never live according to those exemplary principles, but that does not mean we should throw these principles aside. They represent ideals and goals worth working for – worth fighting for. A world which cast away all morality and principles, all hopeless idealism, if you will call it that – not a world worth living in.”
A man of honour and complete integrity, Senator Ibru believed that business begins with sincerity and that perseverance leads to success. People can forgive mistakes, ambition, etc, but they can never get over distrust. To him, godliness is simply being kind and loving to people on earth.
He was handsome and talented in so many areas. He worked at improving himself. He didn’t just hold on to what he learned to himself. He tried to share his skills and abilities. He put his own money behind such endeavours. I can’t imagine how many young people went to university because he helped them pay for their education. He was passionate about education; that came from the Ibru Family. It ignited him more than anything. His protégés are doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, politicians, etc.
In one lifetime, Uncle Felix was a teacher, an architect, a politician, public office holder, businessman and a community leader.
Born on December 7, 1935 at Agbarha-Otor, Senator Ibru has the best of education. Like his elder brother and two younger brothers, after him, he attended Igbobi College, Lagos and went on to Nottingham School for Architecture, United Kingdom. He later went to Israel for his master’s degree. On his return to Nigeria, in 1963, he went into teaching at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He resigned after about a year and set up an architectural firm which designed many edifices in the country. Ibru has to his credit some aesthetic designs and constructions which at that time were awe-inspiring. The Master Plan of the University of Benin, was a major architectural work he undertook.
When Olorogun Ibru was elected Governor of Delta State from 1992-1993, he laid the Master Plan of Asaba, the state capital that till today, is the reference point for all subsequent governors of the state. In whatever area of life he found himself, he endeavoured to leave profound impact. In his brief tenure as governor, he elevated the then College of Education, Abraka to a full-fledged Delta State University.
When he was elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Fourth Republic, he left no one in doubt that he was of noble spirit, a technocrat, a peacemaker, and a bridge builder. He never shirked his legislative responsibilities. He it was that chaired the committee that produced the country’s first ever National Pensions Commission (PENCOM). All his colleagues in the Senate attested that Senator Felix Ibru was a dependable ally in the Senate. Former Senate President, David Mark, recently described Senator Ibru as one of the best hands, from 2003 – 2007, the Senate.
Senator was at various times, member of the Constitution Drafting Committee, who worked tirelessly with others to bestow on Nigeria, a workable Constitution.
He was hard to miss as a result of charisma, friendship, humility, intelligence and his impeccable white dressing. Uncle Felix kept his friends and staff forever! They were true and stuck to him because he was a good man. From his personal assistant, physician, driver and his boyhood friends, nobody has moved.
Uncle Felix walked with confidence and grace. He wasn’t afraid to speak up. He shared his talents with the world, He was one in a million. He had a sense of humour. Olorogun would say something and not know it was funny. He never knew he was telling a joke. It was a privilege to work with and for him and his adorable elder brother. He was somebody that you aspire to be like. Olorogun Ibru understood that the Urhobo people had a unique cultural point of view when it comes to fashion and style. He generously shared his style. Uncle Felix generously shared his understanding of life with the world.
Uncle Felix passed on to glory on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the age of 80.
Migwo, Olorogun, Migwo!
––Henry Muogho, is the Director of Administration, Ibru Organisation.