The patriarch of the Ibru dynasty and husband to former managing director of Oceanic Bank, Olorogun Michael Ibru, is dead. He reportedly died in a US hospital in the early hours of Tuesday after years of battle with an undisclosed ailment.
His death comes about five weeks after his brother Felix Ibru, was buried in their hometown, Agbarha-Otor, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Michael Ibru, before his death was an Officer of the Federal Republic, the Otota of Agbarha-Otor kingdom in Delta State and also the Chairman, Michael and Cecilia Foundation.
Indigenes of Agbarha–Otor mourned him yesterday, eulogising him as a kind-hearted man who touched many lives.
Born in December 25, 1930, Michael Ibru was one of the most successful businessmen in Africa. After his secondary school, he joined the United African Company as a management trainee in 1952, dropping out of the company in 1956 to start a partnership with an expatriate, Jimmy Large. He called his company Laibru.
By 1957, Michael branched out to the lucrative but difficult fish business, which at the time was dominated by many expatriate firms. Although not many Nigerian traders were into the business, the young Michael ventured into it believing that it offered him better opportunities for higher returns on his investments.
By the mid-1960s trading in fish had become the traditional money maker for the Ibru Organisation. Although he had other profitable interests such as transportation and construction, fish trading helped him secure financing and other forms of capital to engage in large scale trading.
He established a partnership with a Taiwanese company, Osadjere Fishing Company, which provided Trawlers and other accessories for trading. By the end of the 1960s he branched out fully into other areas of the economy.
Like a lot of his contemporaries, he established a transportation company, called Rutam. He also invested in palm oil production. Over the years, the Ibru Organisation has expanded into other areas such as Tourism, Brewery, Timber and Poultry.
Today, the Ibru Organisation is an important segment of the Nigerian economy. In fact, it is an empire that runs from fishing to air transportation, Guardian newspapers, the hospitality business etc.
Former governor of Delta state, James Ibori, described Ibru’s death as a great shock, not just because the man who was born in 1930 and died at 85 but because he was one of the few that actually defined the veritable Nigerian ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.
Delta State governor. Ifeanyi Okowa, also reacted to Michael Ibru’s death. He described his death as a national loss and the late patriarch of the Ibru family as an epitome of integrity in business.