- Saraki, Mark, Ekweremadu, Clark mourn
- Son: How he died
Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja, Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and former Senate President David Mark yesterday extended condolences to the family of Olorogun Michael Ibru, who passed away on Tuesday, aged 85.
The condolences poured in just as one of his sons, Obaro, related to THISDAY the business colossus’s last moments, saying he died peacefully in his sleep. He said his father was their rock, adding that he was a kind and generous man.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said the president also commiserated with the government and people of Delta State and the Urhobo kingdom in particular on the passage of their illustrious son and patriarch of the Ibru family.
The president said he joined them in mourning “an accomplished businessman whose edifying role in the corporate world and private sector in Nigeria would continue to inspire generations to come”.
Buhari said he believed that Ibru would be long remembered for his hard work and dedication to entrepreneurship, which opened doors of opportunities to many Nigerians and associates who came in contact with his investments in the banking, aviation, tourism and the manufacturing sectors.
The president urged members of his family and all who mourned Olorogun Ibru to honour his memory by constantly upholding the values of selfless-service, inter-ethnic harmony, knowledge and perseverance which he passionately promoted through his successful career in the private sector.
In his condolence message to the Ibru family, Saraki said the nation had lost a colossus and trailblazer.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said Ibru tremendously impacted humanity through his immense contributions to the private sector.
“Olorogun Ibru, as he was fondly called, was a pioneer of great repute who contributed immensely in entrenching private entrepreneurship and business development in Nigeria,” he said, adding: “Simply put, he was a trailblazer in the art of running successful business and transforming local concerns into international brands.”
The president of the Senate said Ibru started small, grew great and became an undisputed reference point in the nation’s business firmament and beyond. “I can say that he is one of the phenomenal personalities in our time who successfully immortalised themselves before bidding goodbye to this plane of existence. His likes are rare. He shall be sorely missed,” he said.
Ekweremadu in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, said he joined other well-meaning Nigerians to mourn the passage of Ibru, describing him as an exemplary statesman who paid his dues in nation-building.
“We have lost an icon. This is a sad event, not only for the Ibru family, which I hold dear, but also for the entire nation and Africa,” he stated, eulogising Ibru as an epitome of determination, industry, philanthropy and humility who not only pioneered many businesses, but also built countless lives and touched communities in many positive ways.
“He deserves to be immortalised by the nation,” Ekweremadu said.
The former Senate president, Mark, said the place of Ibru could not be overlooked in the socio-political and economic evolution of Nigeria as he described him as a man of integrity and honour.
He said: “I mourn the death of Ibru with a deep sense of loss. I know the place of Ibru in socio-political and economic evolution of Nigeria. He was a foremost industrialist who opened the floodgate of commerce and international trade in Nigeria.”
Mark said Ibru distinguished himself as a man of integrity, honesty and very resourceful entrepreneur, adding that he was a pioneer industrialist who extended his goodwill and philanthropy to the society.
“Unarguably, Ibru left his positive footprints on the sand of time. We shall miss this great man. We shall miss his astuteness, entrepreneurship and resourcefulness. He was a great Nigerian who added great value to the society,” he said.
A former governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, joined the mourning party yesterday, describing Ibru as a quintessential industrialist who was ahead of his time; a man who believed in the dignity of labour and a statesman never to be forgotten.
In a statement in Warri, Delta State, the former governor stated that the patriarch of the Ibru family was father of the old Bendel State, noting that about a third of the workforce in the private sector, owed their survival and income to him at the peak of his industrial prowess.
“Despite his vast wealth, Olorogun Michael Ibru never interfered with government or sought to impose his will on others. To me, he was a quintessential statesman and father worthy of emulation. His many legacies would continue to be treasured by all,” he said.
Ibru’s bosom friend and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, lamented the demise of Olorogun Ibru, saying the country had lost a foremost and one of the finest industrialists.
Clark, who spoke to THISDAY on phone, described the development as a great shock and sad moment in the nation’s history.
“My family and the Ibru’s family are very close. In fact his (Michael) mother and my mother are first cousins. Besides, they were close associates both in business and social life,” he said.
He said the deceased was a great Urhobo endowed with wisdom and humility, who believed in one Nigeria.
While praying to God to console his family and wish him eternal rest, the Ijaw national leader however enjoined Nigerians to emulate the selfless and exemplary life the deceased led in his life time.
A former Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Broderick Bozimo, who also poured encomiums on the departed business mogul, said with the death of Ibru, Nigeria no doubt had lost one of her great, successful and patriotic citizen.
He called on the Ibru family and close associates to accept the irreparable loss, adding: “We should take solace for the good exemplary life led by the business Icon.”
The Delta State All Progressives Congress (APC) Woman Leader, Dr. Janet Oyubu, in a statement regretted the demise of Ibru, whom she described as a great pillar of the Ibru family, Delta State and indeed Nigeria as a whole.
“Nobody can question God Almighty for taking the beloved son, because he is the creator of heaven and earth and also the owner of our soul,” she said.
Several other prominent Delta citizens, including Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Olorogun Otega Emerhor, Chief Frank Kokori and Hon. Evance Ivwurie had soothing words for the family yesterday, describing the death of their patriarch as a great loss to the country.
The senator representing Delta Central, Omo-Agege, said the exit of Ibru was a major loss to Nigeria.
According to him, “Olorogun Michael was a bridge builder and quintessential advocate for good governance. He excelled in every facet of life. He was the major architect of the Ibru business empire that lifted our people from poverty.”
Emerhor, a chieftain of APC and its Delta State governorship candidate in the 2015 election, described the death Ibru as an irreplaceable loss to the Urhobo nation, Delta State, Nigeria and the global business community.
“Olorogun Michael Ibru was a trailblazer whose uncommon business acumen and management ingenuity created one of the most successful and enduring business empires in Nigeria, which till date, remains a global brand,” he said
Kokori, another leader of Delta State APC and former Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), described Ibru as a business mogul who inspired many Nigerians.
“Michael Ibru was an inspiration to every upcoming businessman in Delta State in particular and Nigeria as a whole. He was like Dangote. He was the head of the Ibru family and you can see how he trained all his family members to be humble. For someone with so much wealth to be as humble as Ibru shows you the kind of person he is. The younger generation should learn from his humility,” he said.
Ivwurie, the member representing Ethiope East State Constituency, Delta State House of Assembly, said he was saddened over the news of the passing of Ibru.
“I wish to convey my personal heartfelt sympathies to the Ibru dynasty, while the people and the constituency of Ethiope East join me in expressing our sincere condolences to the people of Agbarha Otor in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State and the people of the Urhobo nation at this tragic moment,” he stated in a condolence message to the Ibru family.
Son: He Died in his Sleep
THISDAY wednesday gathered that Ibru died peacefully in his sleep.
In an interview at the Ikoyi family residence in Lagos, the deceased’s son, Obaro Ibru, said his last moments were nothing out of the ordinary as he performed the same rituals he did every day before he passed on.
He said: “My dad said his prayers before he slept as he had always done. My sister who had stood behind him in the past seven years was with him.
“His last moments were peaceful and he passed on in his sleep. He went peacefully and graciously.”
While describing the deceased as a humble man, Ibru said he was a rock and a unifier who brought out the best out of people.
He said: “He was very selfless. He was a fisherman. He was a pioneer in many industries including servicing, telecoms, farming, finance and his impact was felt all round.”
While stressing that their mum is strong, he added: “Our dad created many industries from the scratch that stood the test of time.
“I feel great that I could share his wealth of love with others, even those adopted. I am honoured to be one of his sons.
“He adopted many children including Majesty (pointing at a little boy who was playing around) who lives with us.
“He provided free education scholarship for students under the Michael and Cecilia Foundation, which carters for primary, secondary and university education at our village in Agbarha-Otor, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.”
On preparations for his burial, he said the family was yet to fix a date.