Celebrating a Life
Olorogun (Dr.) Michael C.O. Ibru, OFR.
The Otota of Agbarha-Otor, Delta State was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists, philanthropists and nation builders.
He founded and headed the Ibru Organisation, one of the largest conglomerates in Africa.
As the founder of the Michael & Cecilia Ibru University, Michael Ibru dedicated his life to ensuring his enterprises gave much to the educational development of the Nigerian people. The Michael & Cecilia Ibru Foundation was set up to perpetuate the education mission of Olorogun Michael Ibru.
In Loving Memory of
Chief (Dr.) Michael C.O. Ibru, OFR
In the early morning of September 6th, 2016, Chief Michael lbru passed away peacefully at the home of his daughter, Janet Ibru, in Prince Georges County, Maryland, United States of America.
With the passing of Chief Ibru, that spirit of enterprise and humanitarian giving of one of Africa’s and Nigeria’s brightest stars ascended to that place in the heavens where those who have served heroically reside.
Born on Christmas Day 1930 in warri, Delta state; Chief Michael Ibru was the oldest of the 7 children of Chief Peter Epete lbru ( a missionary worker from Agbarha-Otor, Delta state, who also worked at the Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital, Lagos) and Chief ( Mrs) Janet Omotogor lbru, of the Osadjere royal family from a long line of wealthy merchants and political leaders in Olomu Kingdom in Ughelli South Local Council of Delta State.
AN ASTUTE STUDENT
Chief Michael Ibru attended the prestigious Igbobi College, Lagos between 1948 and 1951. During this period, he distinguished himself in academics and excelled in extracurricular activities such as Cricket and football. In his last year in school, he was appointed Senior Prefect, a position reserved for the best students displaying leadership traits. Ibru’s performance at Igbobi college set a precedence for excellence. Three of his four younger brothers later attended that school.
AN ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE
Directly after leaving Igbobi college, Chief lbru secured a job in the United African Company (UAC), as a Manager-in-Training. Yet again, this gifted man set another high standard for his peers by being one of the very few fresh school leavers to be so appointed to this post of responsibility by the UAC.
CHIEF (DR.) MICHAEL C. O. IBRU, OFR, was an entrepreneur of no mean feat. At the age of 24, he took the bold step to register Laibru, a trading company which he formed in partnership with Jimmy Large, an expatriate he met in the course of his duties at UAC. Within a short period, the Ibru Organisation grew to become a conglomerate of about 25 companies, reportedly the largest indigenous conglomerate in Africa.
Where other older Nigerian commercial business people were faithful to ready made products, principally importing industrial goods from the United Kingdom, IBRU was far more daring in prospecting for new products to sell, and developing indigenous productive capacity. His greatest commercial innovation was the production and marketing of frozen fish. He waged a vigorous campaign that successfully persuaded the whole nation that frozen fish was good, establishing over 350 distribution depots throughout Nigeria.
In time Michael Ibru and the Ibru family group of companies moved into banking, food processing industry, livestock production, agriculture and agro processing, education services, auto trading, transportation and hotel development. Ever concerned about the education of a nation and continent, Michael Ibru inspired the Michael & Cecilia Foundation and the Michael & Cecilia Ibru University.
His dedicated service in the cause of philanthropy was the hallmark of a man with a giving heart who saw a need to give back to his nation in the best way. Michael Ibru was a nation builder in the truest sense.
In recognition of his business acumen, chief Ibru held the following appointments:
- Member of Business Advisory Council of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
- Member of the African Development Bank President’s Round Table of Businessmen in Africa.
- Member of Economic Cabinet Committee of the former Midswest State of Nigeria.
- Council member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
- Council member of Nigeria-United States Business Council.
Chief Ibru received several awards in recognition of his great achievements including:
- Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in 1981.
- Outstanding Businessman Award of the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 1983.
- Honorary Doctor of Law (Hon. LL.D.), University of Benin (1978).
- Honorary Doctor of Law (Hon. LL.D.), University oflbadan (1996).
- Doctor of Agriculture (Honoraris Causa), University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, 2004.
Due to his love for knowledge and his dedication to the betterment of his fellowman, Chief Michael Ibru involved himself in several educational projects: donating classroom blocks, vehicles and money to various educational institutions and charitable organisations; awarded several scholarships to deserving Nigerian students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning both in Nigeria and abroad, and sponsored various sporting activities in order to ensure an even development of the mind, soul and body, which is the primary objective of the education. He also set up Agbarha College (later renamed Ibru College) for the people of Agbarha-Otor.
In recognition of his dedicated service to the cause of education and his vast capacity and willingness to continue sponsoring that cause, the former Midwest State government appointed Olorogun Michael Ibru member of the Provisional Council of the University of Benin in 1975.
Chief Michael Ibru’s dream of excellence in education escalated to the founding of the Michael and Cecilia Ibru University (MCIU) and the Michael and Cecilia Foundation (MCF) Demonstration Schools.
Chief Michael Ibru’s wife, Dr. Cecilia Ibru, his family, friends and associates here pay homage to this nation builder of Nigeria and modern Africa, express gratitude for the condolences and prayers of comfort they received.
We will always remember him.