Olorogun Felix O. Ibru, 80, is dead. He passed on yesterday, in Lagos, at the age of 80 after a protracted illness in Lagos.
During his lifetime, he transversely dominated the political and economic sphere in Nigeria, as one of the pillars of the Ibru economic and political dynasty.
Along with his brothers, prominent of which are Michael, Alex and Goodie, they grew the Ibru Organisation, establishing it as one of the largest conglomerates in Nigeria. Indeed, they blazed the trail on how a family could run mega businesses and still retain core fraternal values.
The late Ibru, however, had a strong political side to him. Easily regarded as the most politically successful of the brothers, he shot into limelight as the first executive governor of Delta state.
Michael, his elder brother had earlier taken a shot at politics, in 1983, contesting the gubernatorial seat under the old Bendel State but lost to Samuel Ogbemudia.
Although his political activities began in 1983 when he unsuccessfully contested for a seat in the Senate, the late Ibru, in 1992, was elected governor of Delta state on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), albeit briefly between 1992 and 1993. He had the distinct honour of being the first executive governor of Delta State, which was created after the split of the old Bendel State on August 27, 1991.
Unfortunately, he, alongside other civilian governors, was sacked when the military junta led by the late General Sanni Abacha took over.
Not done with politics, he bided his time and returned as senator in 2003, a feat that attested to his popularity at the grassroots level. He was elected to represent Delta Central, which he did for four years.
After his sojourn at the Senate, he became more ingrained in the socio politics of his ethnic roots and helping to champion the cause of his kinsmen; the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU).
Until his death, the late Ibru was the President General of UPU. Besides canvassing for an Urhobo State, he also advanced the complaints of environmental degradation of nation, situated in the Niger-Delta.
In 2008 while giving an address at the UPU National Executive Council in Lagos, he said “our vision is to build a strong, united and confident Urhobo nation that is accorded recognition and respect, as well as its rightful place as a key player in Nigeria. It is a comprehensive vision that commits the UPU to the safeguarding of the political, economic, welfare and cultural interests of the Urhobo nation in an atmosphere of fair play, justice and peaceful co-existence in a changing Nigeria.”
He was born on December 7, 1935 at Agbarha-Otor in the Ughelli North local government area of Delta State to Chief Peter Epete Ibru and Chief (Mrs). Janet Omotogor Ibru, the second of seven children.
He was educated 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 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.
He was elected member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) in 1969, registered by the Architects registration Council of Nigeria in (ARCON) 1971, and elected Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Architects in 1995. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) by the Delta State University and a Fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
He was married with 6 children and grandchildren.