By Chief Nyerhovwo Ughwujabo
Urhobo worldwide is mourning an illustrious Urhobo son, Chief Felix Ibru, first Governor of Delta State, Senator and former President General of Urhobo Progress Union.
Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru, of the Ibru family with ancestral roots in Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North Local Government Area, died on March 12 2016 in Lagos, aged 80.
Olorogun Felix Ibru became governor of Delta State on January 2, 1992 but was removed from office on November 17, 1993 after the General Sani Abacha coup which overthrew the then interim government of Chief Ernest Shonekan. He also represented Delta Central in the Senate from 2003 to 2007 and later led the Urhobo people as the President-General of Urhobo Progress Union, UPU.
UPU Interim Public Relations Officer, Chief Josiah Ntekume, in a statement said, “The passing of Ibru came as a shock to the Urhobo nation. A good heart has stopped beating. A good soul has has ascended to heaven. We part in pains with our beloved former governor and UPU President General.”
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central also said: “It is with great shock and sense of great loss that I received the news of the passing of Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru. “He was a great son of Urhobo who served the Urhobo nation meritoriously as Urhobo Progress Union President General and Nigeria as senator”.
Chief Great Ogboru said: “In private life, business and public service, Olorogun Felix Ibru left worthy imprints in our peoples’ hearts and history. Like every Ibru, he was iconic and held in very high esteem by our leaders and people world over for his deep wisdom and positive contributions to Nigeria’s development and humanity in general. His exit is a shock for me. Nigeria has lost a great force for national unity, peaceful ethnic coexistence and good governance. This is a sad day for the Urhobo Nation in particular.”
A brief Bigraphy
Olorogun Felix Ovudoroye Ibru was a architect, Senator and the First democratically elected Governor of Delta State. Until his death he held the position of President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU). As a traditional chieftain of his homeland, Ibru bore the tribal honorific Olorogun and often used it as a pre-nominal style.
Ibru was born on 7 December 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. His brother Michael Ibru is the founder of the Ibru Organisation, a major conglomerate. 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 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 Nigerian 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).
Ibru established an architectural firm, Roye Ibru Associates, which, in 1971, went into partnership with Alan Vaughan-Richards and Associates to establish the firm of Ibru Vaughan-Richards and Associates (Planning Partnership). As one of the two principal partners of the firm, Chief Ibru was involved in the design and supervision of more than 40 projects across the country. They include: University of Lagos Sports Centre, Oguta Lake Resort, The Diette-Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, Office extension for Elf Nig. Ltd. Victoria Island, Lagos University master plan, New Layout Market, Port Harcourt, Mile 3 Diobu Market, Port Harcourt, Sheraton Lagos Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, University of Benin sports centre, University of Benin Master plan, Faculty of Science buildings, University of Benin & Ogun State and the Ogun State Polytechnic Master plan.
As consultant to Ibru Prefabs Limited he was responsible for the design and supervision of several Geodesic Domes of various dimensions in many parts of the country. In 1971, under the auspices of the United Nations, he was invited to Tokyo, Japan as a member of a panel on foreign investment. In 1974, he delivered a lecture at the Harvard Business School, in the United States on Multinationals. It was titled, Emerging Role Of The African Entrepreneur In The Economy And Its Relationship With Multinational Corporations:Competition,Partnership,Cooperation and Absorption
Ibru was married with 6 children and 6 grandchildren all of whom survive him. May he Rest in Perfect Peace