Olorogun Michael Christopher Onajirhevbe Ibru, the patriarch of the Ibru family and Otota of Agbarha-Otor kingdom is dead.
A statement by the family says one of Nigeria’s foremost business mogul passed on peacefully at a medical facility in the United States in the early hours of Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
He was aged 86.
Michael Ibru was a prominent Nigerian businessman from Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. He was the head of the Ibru Organization, one of the largest conglomerates in Nigeria. As a traditional chieftain of his homeland, Ibru given the tribal honorific Olorogun and often uses it as a pre-nominal style. This title is also borne by many of the members of his large family in the same way.
Ibru was born in 1930 to the family of Peter Ibru, a missionary worker, who also worked at the Igbobi Orthapaedic Hospital, Lagos. After secondary school, he joined the United African Company, as a management trainee. In 1956, a few years after joining U.A.C, he dropped out of the company and started a partnership, which he called Laibru.
The corporate entity was in partnership with an expatriate, Jimmy Large. After engaging in general trading with some success, in 1957, Michael Ibru discovered that the frozen fish market was a fertile market with the potential to deliver returns above the market rate.
However, it was a tough market to penetrate, at the time, many expatriate firms and Nigerian traders were lacking and some were not interested in the market. But he felt he could put extra effort communicating with general traders, who played key roles in products acceptance.
To trade in seafood, he established an importing company, he also rented and built cold storage facilities across the country. By the mid-1960s trading fish had become the traditional money maker for the Ibru organization.
Though he had other profitable interests such as transportation and construction, fish trading helped him secure financing and other forms of capital to engage in large scale trading. He established a partnership with a Taiwanese company, Osadjere Fishing Company, which provided Trawlers and other accessories for trading.
By the end of the 1960s he branched out fully into other areas of the economy. Like a lot of his contemporaries, he established a transportation company, called Rutam. He also invested in palm oil production.
Over the years, the Ibru Organization has expanded into other areas such as Tourism, Brewery, Timber and Poultry.
He was known as an entrepreneurial figure who created one of the largest modern Nigerian owned groups.