Olorogun Michael C.O. Ibru
Olorogun Michael Ibru is described by his children and grandchildren as a pillar of strength, a visionary guiding hand, a moulder of character, an educator, a lover of children, a humanitarian, a philanthropist, grassroots organiser, community leader, and a true patriot without equal. He has also been described by a poet-musician in the Urhobo nation as the Mungo Park who opened channels of riches and investment for Africans.
Michael Ibru, who many believe was born great, truly began to exhibit signs of greatness from his childhood days according to his younger brother, Senator Felix Ibru, the first civilian governor of Delta State and also the one-time senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
Olorogun Michael Ibru was destined for greatness, given his inquisitive tendencies from childhood. Late Senator Ibru recalled with amusement, a peculiar childhood encounter he had with Olorogun Michael Ibru and their mother, when a wealthy maternal uncle, Ovedje Osadjere, asked his young nephews what they would want him to do for them. Michael, Felix disclosed, rushed forward, and rather than ask for material gifts that would be of immediate help to the struggling family then, simply took permission from his uncle to pluck cocoa pods from his farm.
The purpose for this was for Michael Ibru to carry out an experiment with the liquid from the pods to see if he could brew some drink from them. His uncle was stunned and granted his nephew’s request. Michael’s mother who stood transfixed was not amused at all by her first child’s request. Such curiosity pushed Michael Ibru to uncommon heights.
Education and Work
Michael Ibru attended the famous Igbobi College, Lagos State from 1948 to 1951. During this time, he did not only distinguish himself in academics but also excelled in extracurricular activities, such that in his last year at the school, he was appointed the Senior Prefect, a position usually reserved for the best students with leadership traits. The ingenuity of Olorogun Michael Ibru was revealed for the first time at Igbobi College in 1948 when he moved up meteorically to Junior Secondary Class II straight from elementary school without the usual preamble. In 1951, his fourth year, he passed the Cambridge School Certificate Examination with distinction in division one.
Following the same rare path that is meant only for exceptional people, Michael Ibru secured a job in the United African Company (now UACN) as a manager- in training immediately after leaving Igbobi College. There again, Michael Ibru set another pace for his peers as one of the few fresh school leavers to be given the responsibility by the UACN. From 1951 to 1956 when he worked with the United Africa Company, a trading group with the name, Royal Niger Company, Michael Ibru had an inspiring internship that effectively prepared him for the bigger world of entrepreneurship.
Philanthropic deeds and educational support
Due to his love for knowledge, Olorogun Michael Ibru donated the Abraham College, which was later renamed Ibru College, to his people. Olorogun Michael Ibru also donated classroom blocks, vehicles and money to various educational institutions and charity organizations, and awarded several scholarships to deserving Nigerian students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning both in Nigeria and abroad. He sponsored various sporting activities to ensure the even development of the mind, soul, and body. Besides education, Olorogun Michael Ibru is celebrated among his people as a major pillar in the economic empowerment of the Urhobo nation. A credible source has described Michael Ibru’s contribution as one from which the Urhobo men and women have profited at many levels since the rise of the Ibru brand in the second half of the 1950s. Also, the Urhobo market women were among the first people in Nigeria to embrace the “Ibru Frozen Fish”, by virtue of which many of them rose from relative poverty to higher economic brackets because they participated in the new Ibru ventures.
Among the educated, he mentored professionals who rose to become financially independent in their chosen fields of endeavour. Furthermore, most of these Urhobo indigenes at one time or the other worked within the vast conglomerate of the Olorogun Michael Ibru. Many Urhobo professionals who joined the Ibru Organization left to pursue their independent dreams which were constructed with the aid of ambitions conceived in the Ibru organization.