John Okafor is more commonly known as Mr Ibu after an extremely popular role he played. However, he had already adopted the name from his grandfather, whom he says was his mentor and inspiration for doing comedy. John Okafor is undoubtedly one of the funniest men in Nigeria, although his life hasn’t just been a barrel of laughs. His roles with Chinedu Ikedieze, Sam Loco Efe, Nkem Owoh, among other great actors, aided his immediate rise to fame and his mouth-watering net worth of $4.2 million. However, beyond his much successful life, there is a lot to learn about this great actor. Find out more about John Okafor’s private life and success story as you read further.
Mr Ibu is 61 Years Old and Hails from Nkanu West L.G.A of Enugu State
Born on October 17, 1960, John Ikechukwu Okafor is an Igbo actor who hails from Umunekwu Village in Eziokwe, Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, South-East Nigeria. However, after his primary education and the sudden demise of his father, he relocated to Sapele, a town in Delta State, where he stayed with his brother.
While there is not much information about Mr Ibu’s family, especially regarding his siblings, the 61-year-old veteran actor revealed that he hails from a very poor family of eight. His mother died at the age of 91, while he lost his father at an early age.
Mr Ibu Is a College Drop-Out
Despite his rough childhood, Mr Ibu was always determined to re-write his story, not minding how much hard work it would take. Leaving his hometown to Delta State at the age of 14, young John Okafor discovered his older brother was not doing so well financially. However, he gained admission at a technical college where he could complete his secondary education and obtain his West African Senior School Certificate before doing several menial jobs to sustain himself.
Upon completing his secondary education, John Okafor left Sapele for a town in Adamawa State, which at the time it was still known as Gongola State. There, he got admitted into the College of Education, Yola, although he was not there for a very long time. He did several menial jobs to see himself through college, including working as a hairstylist and photographer, but he was later forced to leave the institution due to financial challenges.
Mr Ibu went back to Enugu State, where his determination to further his education saw him gain admission at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu State, for a degree in Mass Communication. Even while he was there, he still had to work in a crating company and as a refrigerator repairer to keep himself in school. He finally decided to quit school because it became more difficult for him to keep himself in school and at the same time support his other siblings.
He returned to Delta State again, and then Lagos, where he got the chance to pursue his career and establish himself as an actor. Even though the actor was not fortunate to bag any degree from any tertiary Institution, This comic actor gained some educational experience.
He Discovered His Acting Prowess Quite Early
Mr Ibu’s childhood and family misfortune were quite challenging, more like a Nollywood movie script. Still, he eventually overcame them all to be one of the most sought-after professionals in the film industry. While he was still in elementary school, his classmates and teachers enjoyed his comic acts, but young Mr Ibu never considered comedy or acting as a career he would try his hands on in the future.
However, before finally settling for the entertainment industry in the 1970s, John Okafor tried doing several jobs, including working in a Sawdust mill, a Slaughterhouse, and Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). He even considered a career in boxing and had taken part in a boxing championship competition, but after engaging in a fight that almost cost him his life, he decided never to return to the ring again.
He Started Acting at the age of 17 in 1978
Relocating to Lagos State, Nigeria, John Okafor made his way into the Nigerian movie industry but worked behind the scene for several years before getting a role in the ABS TV Series Ogbu Anyanwu and Kwere Kira. These became the roles that spurred his interest in becoming an actor.
In December 1978, he finally decided to start a career in acting by making a cameo appearance in the TV series Hotel De Jordan. He took his next role in 1997 when he was called to play an imbecile in Alex Ezeamakwu’s film, Agony. Although he was not initially interested in playing comic roles, Nkem Owoh and Sam Loco Efe, who are among the pioneers of comedy in Nollywood, inspired him to further explore his gift as a comedian.
John Okafor’s journey to the limelight began when he got what he considers his first film in Nollywood, Rolling Stone, which was shot in Anambra State. His walk to fame eventually came through in 2004, when he featured in a Nollywood blockbuster movie, Mr Ibu, which now earned him the moniker. However, he claimed to have inherited the name from his grandfather, whom he said was called Ibu, as he was funny and a great actor. The movie, Mr Ibu, written and directed by Andy Chukwu, had Okafor starring with another great comic actor Osita Iheme, popularly known as Paw-paw. Since then, the veteran actor has appeared in over 200 films, including
- Vuga, 2000
- Police Recruit, 2003
- Nicodemus, 2003
- Ngozi: Abeg Marry Us, 2003
- Naomi, 2003
- Informant, 2003
- Fresh Pain, 2003
- Civil War, 2003
- Bullet, 2003
- Unbreakable, 2004
- Mr Ibu in London, 2004
- Mr Ibu, 2004
- James & John, 2004
- Dollars from Germany, 2004
- The Councillor, 2005
- Joshua, 2005
- Common Sense, 2005
- Circles of Live, 2005
- 9 Wives, 2005
- The Return of Mama-G, 2006
- Sweet Mama, 2006
- Store Keeper, 2006
- Recharge Card, 2006
- Over Heat, 2006
- Four Forty, 2006
- Final Surrender, 2006
- Dear Mama, 2006
- Bafana Bafana (2007)
- Basket Mouth (2007)
- Desperate Search (2007)
- How Far? (2007)
- Toronto Connection (2007)
- Mental Case (2008)
- The Tusk of Life (2008)
- Yahoozee Prophets (2009)
- Most Wanted Kidnappers (2010)
- Open & Close, 2011
- Honeymoon Guys, 2015
John Okafor has mentored many upcoming actors in the industry and has been responsible for the success of some of the big names in Nollywood today. He mentored Jim Iyke, who came up to him on the scene of Vuga and showed interest in the industry. He walked him through and put him in eleven scenes, and today, Jim Iyke is a household name. Georgina Onuoha was also discovered on the set of Woman, a movie he was working on, and she still pays homage to him.
How John Okafor’s Net Worth of $4.2 Million Accrued
Mr Ibu got his first official movie role in Rolling Stone, with a pay of a mere N5,000, which is a far cry from the six-figure sums he rakes in today with his movies. His success in the movie industry has gained him more wealth that he is listed among the richest actors in the industry. Not only that, he has been able to gracefully find his way into various other fields in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Here are the various areas the veteran actor earns his money.
He is one of the Richest Actor/Comedians in Nigeria
Comedy in Nigeria has so much evolved that it is now one of the platforms that have birthed some of the richest comedians across Africa. While Mr Ibu is yet to join the list of richest standup comedians, his roles as a comic actor have earned him a huge income. The veteran actor is yet to reveal his actual income per movie role he receives. It is believed that while upcoming Nollywood actor/actress earn up to ₦100,000 to ₦500,000 per movie role, a veteran actor like him is paid much higher.
Osita Iheme, who is largely considered a veteran actor like him, is estimated to make about N500,000 and above in each film appearance, which is not so bad for someone who constantly receives movie roles. . Aside from acting, John Okafor also earns additional income as a scriptwriter and producer.
He is a Successful Businessman
Business is also another major area from where he makes his money. Mr Ibu, who always describes himself as an idiot and someone without sense, made it known that he is into different businesses. However, he has still managed to keep all his businesses away from the public domain. Meanwhile, a media report has it that John Okafor, among other businesses he is involved in, is also into the rental of movie cameras and other equipment which he started sometime in 2010. He even owned a hotel called Ecowas, which he ran before his initial movies became bestsellers.
Mr Ibu is also A singer and Skilled Dancer
The funny actor is one of the few Nigerian movie actors who have once ventured into the music industry and had even released three trending songs; “The Girl,” “Do You Know,” and “Annoyed Annoyed.” The songs in which he featured another comedian, Dede One day, are contained in his debut album, ‘This Girl.’ In his hit track, ‘Annoyed,’ Mr Ibu criticized the Nigerian government for not providing a quality life for the citizenry. While his track, Dis Girl, portrays ladies who manipulate men and cheat them of their hard-earned money.
The comical antics of the humorous actor have also gone from the movie scenes into some of the music videos he has featured in. He appeared on Flavour’s song, Ada Ada, where his dancing antics moved his ‘wife’ to pull him off the dance floor.
Other skills that he does have, however, include hairdressing and styling. This was one of the odd jobs that he did to get by in his youth, and he apparently got so good at it that his customers became so reliant on him that they would wait if they did not find him present at the salon.
He Also Earns Money from Endorsements
Mr Ibu is among the few actors in Nigeria who have made so much money from signing endorsement deals. The actor, in 2014, signed a deal with one of Nigeria’s biggest sport betting sites, Merrybet Gold Limited. Although he declined to disclose the worth of the deal, he debunked the rumor that the company was paying him N100 million for the endorsement. He said the amount mentioned was not for him but for those who participated and won in the company’s promo. However, sources close to him said he was paid between N7 million and N10 million.
In June 2014, John Okafor became the new Brand Ambassador for GOtv in Nigeria after signing a deal with GOtv, digital terrestrial pay-TV. He was paid handsomely to feature in GOtv’s commercials, make special guest appearances at GOtv launch events and promote the brand among GOtv’s grassroots audience, amongst other activities.
Nigeria’s third Telecom giant, Glo, is another company the veteran actor is enjoying a massive endorsement deal with as he is one of the 28 celebrities who were signed to the company in 2015. One of his latest deals was signed in 2016 and with Kingdom Lottery. He was unveiled by the sort betting company as its ambassador, with his role centering on driving the company’s Scratch and Win Lottery.
Notable Awards And Recognition Mr Ibu Has Received So Far
John Okafor has received the following awards in his career
- 2005 Best Comic Actor at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards
- Africa Movie Academy Awards – Best Actor In Leading Role in 2008
- Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) – Best Actor in Comedy (2010)
- Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) (2011)
- Africa Movie Academy Awards – Best Comic Actor In Nigeria (2011)
- Best Movie Actor of the Year, Peace Ambassadors of Nigeria, 2014
- Best Comedian by the Governor of Enugu State.
- Award of Excellence by Magic Lens Africa Film Academy in 2016.
Controversies Involving John Okafor
Like many other celebrities, John Okafor has been involved in a series of controversies, some of which are linked with his thoughts on his career, the Nollywood industry, and politics. But despite huge criticism, the actor seems focused on his career and personality. Here are some of the controversies the actor has been linked with.
He was Involved In A Sex Scandal
Mr Ibu was alleged to have had a one-night stand with a lady identified as Igwe Gloria. In a social media post, the lady claimed that the actor paid her to sleep with him. While narrating her experience with the actor, she described him as a calm, sweet, and lovely person who, like a few other celebrities, made her feel at the top of the world while it lasted.
Meanwhile, Mr Ibu reacted to the sex allegations in a telephone interview with a popular newspaper, admitted to having posed for a photoshoot with the fan in question but never had any sexual relationship with her. To put the case to rest, the actor described the lady’s offensive statement as the handiwork of unknown enemies who were planning to tarnish his image.
His Money-For-Role Allegation In Nollywood
The comic actor attracted somewhat controversial attention when he claimed that young actors trying to enter the Nigerian movie industry no longer get themselves involved in Sex-for -roles. Instead, they pay huge money to get film roles. Speaking further in the interview, the actor, who is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria Board of Trustees, advised upcoming actors to desist from using their hard-earned money to buy roles. Instead, they should take things easy, calm down and learn to be in a movie production only by merit. When auditions don’t favor you, he said, go home and try again another time.
His Political Views
Aside from gaining much popularity for his laudable comic acts, Mr Ibu is also known for voicing out his thought on political issues, especially regarding the impacts of some of the political decisions on ordinary Nigerian citizens. However, ahead of the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, Mr Ibu and some popular Nollywood stars stirred the anger of many Nigerians when a video made the rounds where they were seen endorsing the All People’s Congress (APC) national leader Bola Tinubu for the seat of presidency.
While the video stirred up remarks on how politicians leverage the fame of comedians to advance their campaigns, John Okafor was, in turn, lashed for endorsing Tinubu, who many are of the opinion would not make a good leader for the country, especially as he is part of the “battered” Buhari’s administration.
It did not take the actor too long before he decided to make a U-Turn and declare support for the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who, according to him, has been like a father to him. Mr Ibu’s sudden decision did not go down with many of his fans, especially from the South East, because the presidency was supposed to move to the south since the current president hails from the North.