Our fond memories of Felix Ibru, by Atiku, Anyaoku, Tinubu
‘He epitomised patriotism, honesty, decency, philanthropy’
For the late former Delta State Governor Felix Ibru, it is fond memories as more Nigerians mourn him. Indeed, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday described him as a gentleman of high standing and a democracy icon who risked his life, property and personal comfort to fight for the restoration of democracy in the country by standing up to military dictatorship.
In a statement by his spokesman, Paul Ibe, the Turaki Adamawa recalled that Ibru was “an epitome of honesty, decency, philanthropy and entrepreneurship, qualities for which the family is well known, through which they touched the lives of many Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion.”
And for former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the late Ibru was “an outstanding player in the democratic evolution of Nigeria, and of Delta State in particular.”
In a statement he issued yesterday, Anyaoku said: “As a senator of the Federal Republic, he during his tenure demonstrated notable perspicacity and unalloyed patriotism in the debates of the National Assembly. And as the first civilian governor of Delta State, he not only exemplified a true sense of public service but also left behind a legacy some of which his successors have adopted to the benefit of the state.
“ In his last years, I had the privilege and indeed the pleasure of working with him as a member of the Selection Committee of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Award which I chair and will always remember his quiet sense of humour and sterling contributions to the committee’s deliberations.
I convey my deep condolence to his family and prayer that his soul will rest in perfect peace.”
Former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu said he received with a deep sense of loss the death of a great Nigerian.
“Chief Ibru was a sort of renaissance Nigerian. He was a politician, business mogul, bureaucrat, architect, educationist, administrator and friend of Nigeria. He belonged to a rare breed of Nigerians who defined success not by what they earned for themselves but for their fellow citizens. Hence after making his mark as an architect, which was his first calling, he became a lecturer at the Yaba College of Education. He also was at the top of a business conglomerate that not only flourished but became a nexus of commerce in the country. Olorogun Ibru succeeded in the old-fashioned way with hard work, imagination and persistence. He was also governor in Delta State and a senator, who gave a polemical heft to his contribution on the floor of the grand hall of the parliament.
“ In spite of his cosmopolitan virtues, he never forgot his roots. Hence he led the Urhobo Progress Union as President General. He blended well in Lagos where he achieved much and gave much. He will be sorely missed as a role model, fighter for democracy, a man of ideas and beachhead of business.”
In their tributes, former Ambassador to Netherlands, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu and former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Erelu Olusola Obada described him as a very kind and humane person.
During a condolence visit to Ibru’s residence at Ikeja GRA yesterday, Dr. Awolowo-Dosunmu said he was a complete gentleman, kind and not given to many words.
She also commended his commitment to the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation and his generosity to people.
The former ambassador called on the government to ensure that the legacies of the late Ibru were sustained by providing good governance aimed at promoting the interest of the masses.
She also urged the children of the late Ibru to remember that the mantle had now fallen on them to maintain their father’s legacy.
Erelu Obada, who also served as Minister of State for Defence under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, described him as a great and erudite Nigerian.
“Senator Ibru was a very supportive person who encouraged me seriously in my political endeavour even to the period I was deputy governor and minister.
I want to believe that his home state would do something marvellous to immortalise him,” she said.
Also extolling the virtues of the former governor, Senior Pastor, Trinity House, Victoria Island, Ituah Ighodalo called on the Delta State government to immortalise him by naming the state’s airport after him as a mark of recognition of the solid foundation he laid for the state.
To also acknowledge the great contributions of the former senator to the development of business in Lagos, Ighodalo suggested that some parks, particularly in Ikeja should be named after him, as he also called on the children of the former governor to set up a foundation in their father’s name “with the aim and objective to pursue his humanitarian values.”
Ighodalo who was among sympathisers at the GRA, Ikeja residence of the late Ibru described him as a truly great man; a detribalised person who had good intentions for the development of the country and especially Delta State.
“He came from a great lineage and would be remembered for his contributions to business and politics,” he added.
An old associate of the late Senator Ibru, Chief Yakubu Akanbi Disu, said he met the deceased in 1973 “and he remained a good elder brother to me until he died. He was a very strict, and great philanthropist and a man of high integrity.”
Leading the team of Ikeja Hotels to the residence, the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Theo Netufo said Ibru laid the foundation for the development of Delta State which he said succeeding administrations had built on . He also charged the children to sustain the legacies of their father and remain united.
Also, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Icon Stockbrokers Ltd., Mr Chike Nwanze said Ibru lived an accomplished life. The Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari has described as a lesson in hard work and humility, the life of the late scion of the illustrious Ibru family “while his death teaches people that their earthly sojourn should be committed to human service.”
Semenitari said there were several landmarks for which Ibru would be remembered. According to her, rather than mourn, people should celebrate a life well-lived.
“ The late Olorogun Felix Ibru was committed to the wellbeing of the human essence as he worked for better society devoid of apartheid. He had the space to have flaunted his privileged class, yet he preferred the path of even relationship”, Semenitari said.