Peter Uzoho and Godbless Eduviere, who covered the burial programmes organised in Lagos in honour of late Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru, report that people from all walks of life poured encomiums on the departed patriot

It was a moment of outpouring of emotion and showering of encomiums at the evening of tribute organised by the family of late Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru, on

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island,

Lagos. The event themed: ‘Lord be thou exalted’ marked the

commencement of a weeklong activity for the burial of the late

Senator.

The occasion saw large number of the high and mighty, members of the

political class, the academia, the business moguls, associates, staff,

clients, families, friends and relatives of late Senator Ibru converge

to pay their last respect to an accomplished patriot.

Born on December 7, 1935, to the family of late Chief Peter Epete

Ibru and late Chief Mrs. Janet Omotogor Ibru at Agbarha-Otor, in the

Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, the second of

seven children, late Senator Ibru obtained his education at Yaba

Methodist School, and later Igbobi College, where he was Head Boy in

1955. He won the Elder Dempster Lines Scholarship to travel to the

United Kingdom. After his secondary school education at Igbobi

College, Ibru proceeded to the Nottingham School of Architecture in

England where he qualified as an architect in 1962.

While as 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 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. Ibru returned to Nigeria at the end of

that year and took up an appointment with the Nigerian Federal

Ministry of Education as the first Resident Lecturer, in Architecture,

at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.

He was elected member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) in

1969, registered by the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria

(ARCON), in 1971, and confirmed Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of

Architects in 1995. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary degree of

Doctor of Law (LL.D), by the Delta State University, and a Fellowship

of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR)

Olorogun Felix Ibru’s business life was indeed, an extraordinary one.

He 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, Chief 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;

Lagos University Master Plan; New Layout Market, Port Harcourt; Mile 3

Diobu Market, Port Harcourt; Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja,Lagos;

University of Benin sports centre; University of Benin Master plan;

Faculty of Science buildings, University of Benin and the Ogun State

Polytechnic Master plan.

The scion of one of Africa’s most prominent business families,

Olorogun Felix Ibru was a wealth creator and consummate businessman

much sought-after, locally and internationally. In 1971, under the

auspices of the United Nations, he was invited to Tokyo, Japan, as a

member of a panel on foreign investment. In 1974, he delivered a

lecture at the Harvard Business School, in the United States on

Multinationals, titled “Emerging Role of the African Entrepreneur in

the Economy and its Relationship with Multinational Corporations:

Competition, Partnership, Cooperation and Absorption”.

As a statesman and a patriot in the mould of the pioneer nationalists,

Olorogun Felix Ibru waded into the murky waters of Nigerian politics.

His political activities began in 1983, when he unsuccessfully

contested for a seat in the Nigerian Senate under the defunct Unity

Party of Nigeria (UPN), headed by Chief late Obafemi Awolowo, his

political mentor. Though he lost out, he subsequently won elections

into the Constituent Assembly in 1988. In 1991, he contested and won

the election to become the first civilian Executive Governor of Delta

State and in 2003, achieved his dream of becoming the Senator

representing Delta South Senatorial District.

However, on assumption of office as the first Executive Governor of

Delta State, he paid all the debts of his predecessors without bias.

As an architect, he developed a twenty-year development plan for the

city of Warri, Asaba and Ughelli. Although the Third Republic was

short lived, his honesty, transparency, dedication to duty, patriotism

and good governance were made visible.

For all the numerous achievements of the late senator, people from

all walks life in varying expressions poured their hearts out in honour and

in recognition of the departed icon.

Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa described late Senator as “a

determine champion of progressive values and an afflicting voice for

tolerance, inquisitiveness, fairness, dignity and opportunity. His

absolute disposition and gentleness at all times are treasurable

attributes that stood him apart from most men of noble birth and great

achievers.

“As we commence the process of sending His Excellency, Olorogun

Ovuodoroye Senator Felix Ibru home, he would surely be remembered for

the remarkable life he lived. His lifetime sets a purpose of

positively transforming the lives of many Urhobo, Deltans and indeed

Nigeria,” Okowa added.

Former Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan said there was a lot

to say about the departed Senator.

“As President-General of Urhobo Progressive Union, which he became

while I was Governor, he took that position very seriously because for

him, the unity of the Urhobo people was uppermost. He used that

position to bring unity not just to the Urhobo people, but to Deltans.

I hope that in his death, the Urhobos can reflect on what was

uppermost in the mind of Senator Ibru and ensure that peace reigns,

ensure that the Urhobo people become united and ensure that Delta

State is united for the Urhobos, being the largest ethnic group, to

use that position to mobilise other ethnic group for a very united

Delta State, and that is the only way we can remember Senator Ibru,”

Uduaghan said.

For former Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, in Delta State,

Barrister Mary Agbajoh, “Olorogun towered above many others, his

pace-setting acumen and respect for excellence, competence and due

process in his private life, business and public service, left worthy

imprints in the hearts of our people and everyone who was privileged

to come in contact with him.

“Like every Ibru, Olorogun was iconic and was held in very high esteem

by our leaders and people world over, for his deep wisdom and positive

contributions to Nigeria’s development and humanity in general,” she

noted.

“Enumerating his enterprising and commercial feats would be overkill

because late Olorogun qualifies as a Hall of Famer, if we have such in

Nigeria, by virtue of his contributions to the socio-economic and

political development of Nigeria.

“As a patriot and political icon who midwifed and led Delta State in

her embryonic stage, he nurtured the modern-day Delta State into what

it is today as our first Executive Governor. As a statesman, he spent

most of his public life in the service of the common man. I can recall

Olorogun’s numerous giant strides as Governor and Senator as well as

his passionate commitment and meritorious services to a greater Urhobo

nation. As the President General of Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), he

was passionate and committed to a greater and more united Urhobo. A

passion he lived and died for.

“Olorogun Senator Ibru set a shining example of the kind of

unconditional love required to reverse a worse situation to an

excellent one. He was a fantastic friend, and as a passionate golfer,

I remember he always impressed it on me to think before taking a stand

on any issue and be ready to stand tall in any situation or challenges

that may come my way. In times of Need, Olorogun was always there, and

was always willing to help even when you didn’t ask.

“Personally, I am not here to mourn Olorogun’s passage, though very

painful, but to celebrate the impressive years of an illustrious

Urhobo son, a loving father, loyal friend, a detribalized Nigerian, an

astute entrepreneur and politician, and of course, one of Africa’s

great statesmen,” Agbajoh added.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu described him as a

statesman, a perfect gentleman and a man of inestimable pedigree.

“He was my friend and mentor. He would be remembered for the great strides

he achieved in his postion. He was a lawmaker of uncommon wisdom and a

one-time Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment.

“In the fifth Senate, he always calmed frayed nerves and would appeal

for senators to calm down and this earned him the name ‘Mr Calm

down” Ekweremadu said.

The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku

described Senator Ibru as a gentleman. He said he had a very striking

humility, adding “The usual pomposity with which Nigerians are known

abroad and at home was lacking in Felix Ibru. He was a nice man I

enjoyed keeping company with. You would hear salient and wise words

from him. The late Senator was what I would describe as gentle; the

word gentle doesn’t come easily because in our society where you have

many who masquerade as gentle but in reality are not. Ibru was a

genuine gentle man.”

former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi narrated the good

relationship he had with late Ibru right from their boyhood days at

Igbobi College till his departure, saying his company with Ibru made

him learn good virtues. “I came to thank the senator for protecting me

at Igbobi. I came to thank him for making me learn good virtues. I

learnt from him that you don’t use your position to oppress anybody,”

Akinyemi said.

On Thursday, July 28, the ceremony continued with a service of songs

at the Anglican Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral, in GRA, Ikeja.

High profile personalities, members of the Golfers Association of

Nigeria, people of Agbara-otor community, among others, graced the

occasion.

Ven. Goke Agara, in his message titled ‘Let me die the death of the

righteous and let my last end be like his’, urged people not to be

afraid of death, noting that there’s hope for the righteous that are

dead. Citing the book of Philippians 1:21 which reads “There’s great

gain in the death of the righteous”; he advised that the “living should

live a right and exemplary life as late Olorogun Felix Ibru so that

our last end can be like Christ.”

Appreciating God for the life of late Ibru, Reverend Sister Jacinta

Oshukoya said “ late Olorogun Senator Felix Ibru was an extraordinary great man and we adore his fatherly posture. He was very humble, friendly and I know

that he did a lot for God while he was alive and I also know that God

helped him.”

The first son of the late senator, Dr. Paul Aidodo Ibru, described his

late father as a man of unity, a man having God-giving wisdom and one

who loved to build. “My dad said he loved building things that would

last, things that would make a difference, and things that have impact

on the future generations. He was someone who loved building for

future generations.”

A commendation service was also held on Friday, July 29 at the same

venue where Rev. Abel Olu Ajibola in his message entitled ‘Death, the

inescapable appointment’ which he drew from the book of Ecclesiastics

3:1-2, admonished the living to live their lives according to the word

of God warning that after death there is judgement. “There’s a reward

for everything in life whether good or bad. If one is living and his

life is not contributing meaningfully, then you have not done well.

The type of death Ibru has tasted is general and everybody would one

day die that death.”

Ajibola noted that the large turn-out of people to the occasions right

from the evening tribute to the commendation service showed that the

late Ibru really impacted so many lives while he was alive, saying

that it had pleased God that he joined him as one of the saints.

The Igbobi College Old Boys Association (ICOBA), dedicated a tribute

song to Ibru which they titled, ‘Teach Me The Torch’, a song the

presented with high sense of respect and honour to their beloved

former Head Boy and president.

One of the first employees of late Ibru, Mr. Joseph Obere who spoke

to THISDAY about his relationship with his late boss, said “I first

met him the day I was employed. That was August 1956. Senator Ibru has

been a nice person and was the one who helped me to secure a land to

build my house. In fact, the time I saw him last, we took photograph

together during Oscar Ibru’s mother’s service of songs, sometime this

year. Senator Ibru was a very humble man and his time during his time

in politics; he never portrayed himself as high officer or as a

Senator. He didn’t flaunt his muscles. I will really miss his

friendliness and amazing nature,” Obere said.

Advising Ibru’s children, he said “They should emulate their father’s

humility and thoroughness, because as an architect he did a lot for

the Ibru organization.”

Meanwhile, as the ceremony shifted to Delta State, to continue the

burial rites, on Tuesday, July 2, at 11a.m, he was taken to the Delta

State Government House, Asaba, where his body was laid- in- state,

followed by tributes and presentation of funeral orations.

At 4:00p.m same Tuesday, his remains was taken to the White

House, Ughelli, Delta State, there was service of songs,

lying-in-state and Christian wake keep.

On Wednesday, August 3 2016, the remains of late Senator Ibru was

lowered to the grave at his family’s compound, at Agbartha-otor.