Senator Felix Ibru dies at 80
• He Was A Political Icon, Says Okowa •Nnamani: He Was One Of Our Best
• Onobrakpeya, Igbuya, Aguariavwodo, Omo Agege, Others Mourn
First civilian governor of Delta State, Senator Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru, has passed on.
The announcement was by Olorogun Oscar Ibru, nephew of the deceased and head of the next generation of the Ibru family, who said he passed away at 12.30pm yesterday after a brief illness.
Also in a telephone conversation, media secretary to Mrs. Cecelia Ibru confirmed the demise of the former President General of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), aged 80 years. He was born on December 7, 1935 at Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Eminent Nigerians have continued to mourn the late elder statesman. Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, described the late senator as a patriot and political icon, stressing that he led Delta State at its embryonic stage.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, Governor Okowa commiserated with the family of the former senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, adding: “Senator Ibru will be missed by all whose lives he touched in many diverse ways in his very fulfilled and achievements-laden life.”
Okowa noted that as a renowned politician, businessman and a highly revered octogenarian, Ibru was “among the very special people who made very significant and indelible contributions to their countries and humanity.”
The governor said he was joining Ibru’s family, friends, associates, and fans across the world in mourning the exit of a legend and giving thanks to God Almighty for his glorious life of service to Delta State, Nigeria and mankind at large.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I mourn the exit of a legend, political titan and first civilian governor of Delta State, Olorogun Senator Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru.
“Senator Ibru’s life-long dedication and indefatigable commitment to serving the people of Delta State as well as the Urhobo worldwide, where he served them meritoriously as Senator and as President of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), will be surely missed.”
Governor Okowa assured the Ibru family that the former governor “would always be celebrated and honoured by his proud countrymen, women and children for his unblemished service and exemplary career which had inspired others to take up a life of selfless service to humanity.”
It was a shocked former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, who got to hear of the passing of one of his favorite Senators, Felix Ibru, when The Guardian got in touch with him.
For a while, he had no words to say. “Oh, my goodness,” he finally muttered. “Oh, Chai! An excellent man! Oh, God. He was Senate Committee Chairman on Establishment and he handled pension and all what not,” he said in almost a whisper. “Oh, God, I didn’t know he was sick,” he said, adding “may his soul rest in peace.”
When he found his voice, Nnamani said: “He was a complete gentleman, very dedicated, meticulous and unassuming. He was one of our dependable Senators in our time. He made tremendous contribution to the Pension Act. For every Senate, there is always a defining moment. For him, one of his high points in the Senate was that pension issue; he crafted it very, very well, and to a large extent, it is still guiding the country.”
His Royal Majesty, Okorefe 1, the Ovie of the Agbarha Kingdom, the home of Olorogun Felix Ibru, said one of the pillars of the Kingdom has been snatched by death.
Also, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya, described Ibru’s death as painful, even as he praised the senator’s “great concern for the unity of Nigeria, the growth of democracy and development of Delta State.”
“Chief Felix Ibru as a governor, senator, international businessman, philanthropist and politician gained the respect, trust and love of the entire country and he will be greatly missed,” he said.
Foremost print maker, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya, said he was shocked at the news of Olorogun Ibru’s death, describing his “passing as a big loss that will certainly touch everybody.”
Onobrakpeya said: “As governor, he did so much to hold the State together, even as he played a great and acknowledgeable role as an Urhobo leader. He will be missed and we pray the Almighty to accept his soul.”
As the news of the death filtered into his hometown, Agbarha-Otor, Ughelli North Local Council at about 3pm yesterday, the community was thrown into deep mourning, as people were seen in groups discussing the death in hushed tones.
The senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in mourning said: “It is with great shock and sense of great loss that I received the news of the passing of former Governor of Delta State, 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.
“His demise is a great loss to the Urhobo nation, Delta State and Nigeria at large. He died when Urhobo needed men of his calibre to reposition the Urhobo nation in the politics of state and country. We will miss him greatly.”
Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, said everybody knows who the late Olorogun Felix Ibru was in this country and in Delta State.
“He has been a Governor, a Senator, President General of the Urhobo Progress Union, a business mogul, an architect; his architectural works are everywhere. He was like a father to me, my political mentor. He indeed served his people very well; he was a servant of the people.”
For Olorogun John Oguma, this is not the best of time for the Osadjere family of Ovwor-Olomu, as “Felix Ibru’s death is a big loss to us in the Osadjere family in particular, Urhobo nation, Delta and Nigeria as a whole. He has been a source of inspiration to many of us.”
Olorogun Fred Majemite noted in pain that “Felix Ibru is our political father, a man we respect in the politics of Delta and Ughelli North”, adding: “he died at the time we needed him most, but who are we to challenge God? He is the maker of all things.”
President of Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, Simeon Ohwofa, in his message of condolence, remarked: “Olorogun Felix Ibru is a rare breed; he is in every way an enigma.”
Ohwofa added that as a businessman, he was a ranking member of the Ibru organisation, “as a politician, he was reliable, notable, recognisable and respected”, pointing that Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, shall miss his wise counsel.