Alex Ibru: The Story of the Guardian, His Life and Times, His Battle for Survival

Urhobo Historical Society

Culled from: THE GUARDIAN
November 21, 2011

Alex Ibru:

The Story of the Guardian, His Life and Times, His Battle for Survival

Alex Ibru & His Wife, Mrs Maiden Ibru


The Guardian Newspaper published by Guardian Newspapers Limited has been described as one of “Nigeria’s most respected newspapers. It was established in 1983 by the entrepreneur Alex Ibru, assisted by Stanley Macebuh, a top journalist with the Daily Times newspapers. The newspaper, was a pioneer in introducing high quality journalism to Nigeria with thoughtful editorial content, with a slogan – “CONSCIENCE, NURTURED BY TRUTH”.

The paper was first published on February 22, 1983 as a weekly, appearing on Sundays. It started daily publication on July 4,1983. In the early 1980s the Guardian had a long-running campaign against the use of traditional chieftancy titles, calling for Nigerians to be addressed simply as “Mr” or “Mrs”

During the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, two guardian reporters, Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor were sent to jail in 1984 under Decree No. 4 of 1984, which suppressed journalistic freedom. On August 26,1989 the Guardian published a long letter by Dr. Bekolari Ransome-Kuti, a human-rights activist, titled “Open Letter to President Babangida” in which he criticised what he saw as increasing government suppression of free expression of ideas.

The paper is one of the few relatively long lasting national papers in Nigeria. It is believed its durability is a result of its broad range of issues, and contacts, its close link to the Ibru family and non-partisanship. In its early stages of circulation, The Guardian was  one the few national dailies that did not publish advertised obituaries though the policy has changed since 1989 and elite advertisement now makes a large percentage of the newspaper’s revenue.

Its owners say the newspaper was “ established for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interests of Nigeria. It owes allegiance to no political party, ethnic community, religious or other interest group. Its primary commitment is to the integrity and sovereignty of the Federation of Nigeria, and beyond that to the unity and sovereignty of Africa.”

What happens to The Guardian after the death of Ibru? After the near-fatal gunshot wounds he received 15 years ago, Ibru has virtually handed over the running of the newspaper to his wife, Maiden, and the senior editorial team headed by the managing director, Mr. Emeke Eluem Izeze.

An inside source said yesterday, “We would miss the publisher; but the system has adjusted quite well after his long, inevitable absence.”


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