Remembering Matriach Janet Omotogor Ibru

Urhobo Historical Society

Remembering Matriarch Janet Omotogor Ibru

Matriarch Janet Omotogor Ibru

A Letter of Condolences

Urhobo Historical Society
P. O. Box 1454
Buffalo, New York 14226, U.S.A.
Web site:; E-mail:

March 25, 2006

Olorogun Michael Ibru
Queens Drive, Ikoyi
Lagos, Nigeria

Dear Olorogun Michael Ibru:
I write this letter to express a special message of condolences from Urhobo Historical Society to you and your siblings on the occasion of the death of your esteemed mother.
Mothers are especially precious in Urhobo culture. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was not particularly a good friend of the Urhobo people, was quoted as having once uttered a special word of praise of Urhobo women. Chief Awolowo was quoted as having told a confidant of his that Urhobo women worked night and day so that their children would go to school and become successful in life. That virtue of hard work and abiding dedication to the future and success of their children was especially important in the case of Urhobo women who raised their children in the difficult pioneering years of the 1930s through the 1940s. We dare to say that no other Urhobo woman deserves greater credit for such steadfast dedication than your blessed mother.
We believe many future Nigerian historians will venture various deductions as to what accounts for the unmatched and untainted successes that you and your younger brothers have attained in so many fields. We in Urhobo Historical Society, who study Urhobo history and culture as our assigned responsibility, would rush to say that the early foundation that your mother gave you in life was most probably critical to your achievements. In mourning the loss of your mother, Urhobo Historical Society celebrates those virtues of Urhobo womanhood that have churned up so many successful men and women in our history of the last three-quarter century. We know that the loss of your mother will touch your core feelings because of what she contributed to your life and the lives of your siblings. We trust that you will mourn your beloved mother as a prototype of Urhobo womanhood. We mourn her loss with you in that vein. Your mother’s loss will remind many Urhobos of the wonderful things that our women have wrought in our history and culture. Please accept our sympathies and condolences for the loss of a remarkable mother and a virtuous Urhobo woman.
Urhobo Historical Society is currently working on its 2007 Calendar. We intend to feature several Urhobo men and women of significance in Urhobo history and culture. We plan to include your mother as one of Urhobo women personages who deserve to be celebrated in our history.
 Once again, accept the condolences of Urhobo Historical Society for the loss of your respected mother.
Sincerely yours,
Professor Peter Ekeh
Urhobo Historical Society
Editorial and Management Committee Members: Ovie Felix Ayigbe,  B. Pharm., R. Ph.; Onoawarie Edevbie, M.A., M.Sc.; Peter P. Ekeh, Ph.D.; Edirin Erhiaganoma, M.Sc.  Joseph E. Inikori, Ph.D.; Isaac James Mowoe, Ph.D., J.D.; Omokere E. Odje, Ph.D.;  Aruegodore Oyiborhoro, Ed.D.;   Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor, M.D., Ph.D.  Executive: Peter Ekeh, Chair and Editor; Andrew Edevbie, Secretary; Edirin Erhiaganoma, Treasurer.
Mrs. Janet Omotogor Ibru at Midlife

Mrs. Janet Omotogor Ibru at Midlife
By Oghenevware Evwode

On Wednesday March 15, 2006, the cold hand of death snatched away Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru, the matriarch of Ibru dynasty at the age of 97 years. In fact, her death has further showed that all creatures of God owe the debt of death and this great Urhobo woman has just settled that debt.

The death of Chief Janet Ibru is a pointer to the biblical injunction as it is contained in the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3: “To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…”

Without mincing words, the entire Urhobo nation mourns the demise of Chief Janet Ibru and by extension, other ethnic nationalities in the country and beyond also mourn the death of this great Urhobo woman.

Her marriage to late Chief Ibru of Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North local government area of Delta State, Nigeria, was blessed with seven children who are today shining examples of a multitude of virtues.

Her eldest child, Olorogun (Dr.) Michael C.O. Ibru, OFR, was once described by his children and grand children in these words: “You are a pillar of strength, a visionary-guiding hand, a moulder of character, an educator, a lover of children especially the family. You are a humanitarian par excellence, a philanthropist without recompence, a grassroots organiser and community leader, and a true patriot without equal.” In one of his classical songs, the Urhobo poet-musician, the late Ogute Ottan, described Olorogun Michael Ibru as the Mungo Park who opened channels of riches and investment for Africans.

In the same vein, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, Governor of Delta State, was reported to have said that the Ibru organisation founded by Olorogun Michael Ibru, with 25 subsidiaries, has been rated as the largest indigenous conglomerate in Africa. He added: “In the saga of entrepreneurship, Olorogun Ibru’s name is a modern equivalent of the late Chief Mukoro Mowoe, the first president-general of the UPU, the pioneer Urhobo multi-millionaire, and the Nelson Mandela of the Western Niger Delta. Olorogun Ibru’s philanthropy knows neither bounds nor social class.”

Records have it that Ibru is pioneer in the production of fish and animal protein, thereby not only strengthening Nigeria’s human resources for over 40 years, but also building a healthy and viable economy. Other economic activities include a strong agro-industrial base: farming and irrigation schemes, construction and steel works, brewing, bulk and liquid transportation by land and sea, distribution and marketing of industrial chemicals, food processing, chemical preparations, plastics marketing of industrial chemicals, plastics and container manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, aviation and automobile distribution, sales and services, banking and allied matters as well as hotel and tourism.

Let us look at the background of the Ibru Organization. What is now one of the foremost groups in West Africa started in 1966 with the establishment of a trading company, Laibru limited. The first and most significant step in the organization’s evolution came in 1957 when the founder and chief executive, Michael Ibru pioneered the marketing of frozen fish in Nigeria to alleviate the acute shortage of animal protein in the average Nigerian’s diet. Despite initial market resistance, the venture was pursued so successfully that it developed into allied areas, and made full use of opportunities for further diversification. The following shows something of the present broad base of activities and given indication of the capabilities of the Ibru group namely: Ibru Sea Foods Limited, Aden River Estate Limited, Aero Contractors Nigeria Limited, Ibache (Ibafon Chemicals) Limited, Ibafon Oil Limited, Ibron Nigeria Ltd; Ibru Merchandise 33 Limited, Ikeja Hotels Plc. (Lagos Sheraton and Federal Palace Hotels), Societe Benninoise De Produits De Mer (SOBEPROM), Zabadne and Company Limited, Osadjere Fishing Co. Limited, Marine Harvest Limited, Spibat Nig. Limited, Rutam Motors Limited, Nitrec Limited, Oceanic Bank Int’l. Plc, Aquamarine Finance and Securities Limited, Queens Petroleum Company of (Nig.) Limited, Guardian Newspaper Limited, Express Processing & Packaging Limited, Waskar Ltd., Mitchel Farms, Nigerian Hardwood Co. (Nig.) Limited, F. Steiner & Company Limited, Blue Water Marine, Delta Freeze Limited, Lillershall (Nig.) Ltd, Superbru Ltd, W.F. Clarke (Nig.) Limited, Boardroom Service Limited, Minet Nigeria Limited (insurance brokers), Atlantic Estates Limited, Societe Camerounaise De Product De Mer-SCPM Douala.

The above mentioned companies of Olorogun Michael Ibru, has showed that the mother that gave birth to this business mogul of our time, deserves all the tributes now that she has answered the call of the Lord. Both Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike would continue to pay tributes to the deceased.

The late Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru would be remembered for the good legacies she left for her children. In fact, this legend was a disciplinarian par excellence, who instilled that discipline in her children. The late matriarch of the Ibru family was a role model and that could be the reason why her children are today role models in their chosen careers.

Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru was also an epitome of humility and that trait always reflected in all her actions while she sojourned on planet earth. Indeed, the success story of her children did not make her to be arrogant in dealings with people and if you were not told that she was the one that gave birth to Olorogun Michael Ibru and his siblings, you would not know.

She was a good counsellor, no wonder she gave good advice to her children who are today embodiment of good things of life. Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru must have followed the biblical injunction which says: “Train up a child on the way of the Lord and when he grows up, he would not depart from the way of the Lord.”

By all standards Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru was a virtuous woman and she possessed all the sterling qualities of the virtuous woman as enunciated in the book of Proverbs chapter 31. The late matriarch must have been guided by this Indian proverb: “The nearest approach to happiness for man in the course of his life is to possess liberty, health, and a peaceful mind,” no wonder her children are marvels of the world.

The late nonagenarian attached much importance to this statement of James K. Feibleman: “Morality is a set of laws that one sets up for oneself.”

The children of Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru attained greatness because their mother was a woman who had a great aim in life. One should not be castigated to say that the children of the late nonagenarian must have been guided by this statement of Johnann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832), the German writer: “The important thing in life is to have a great aim, to possess the aptitude and perseverance to attain it.” The late Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru died in the Lord and that is why she is being given a Christian burial.

Indeed, the obsequies released by the family showed that on Thursday April 27, 2006 service of songs was held at the Ibru compound, Ovwor, Ughelli North local government area of Delta State. While, on Friday April 28, 2006 the funeral service for the late nonagenarian would take place at all Saints’ Anglican Cathedral, Ughelli and later her remains would be interred at Ibru compound, Ovwor.

Olorogun Felix Ibru, another son of late Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru, is a politician of no mean repute. He became the first civilian governor of Delta State and in the present political dispensation; he is the senator representing Delta Central senatorial district in the National Assembly.

Mr. Alex Ibru, OON, another son of the late Chief Janet Ibru is a businessman, a publisher and administrator. He founded The Guardian newspaper in 1983 and today, that newspaper is being described as the flagship of print journalism in the country. He also has business interest in insurance, computer, and other allied matters both in Nigeria and overseas. He was minister of Internal Affairs from 1993-1995.

Mr. Goodie Ibru is another illustrious son of late Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru, who has made breakthrough in the hotel and hospitality industry. He also has business interest in banking, stocks, insurance, as well as a member of many professional bodies. Today, he is a force to be reckoned with when the issue of hotel and hospitality is discussed in the country.

In a chat with The Urhobo Voice, Chief Patrick Atsiangbe (JP), a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, has this to say about late Chief Janet Omotogor Ibru: “She is a virtuous woman and a model which every woman should emulate, she lived a fulfilled life. Let the Urhobo nation be agog in festivity with the Ibru family.”

As for Chief Patrick Gbinije (JP), the most senior chief of Okpe Kingdom, he said: “Her destiny with God was good and she made use of that goodness to train up her children on the path of righteousness, and today they are successful Nigerians in their respective endeavours and we have every cause to celebrate her burial. I therefore use this medium to appeal to all parents to be of good behaviour, be of good understanding and pray unto God so that they can bring up good children.”

Mrs. Janet Omotogor Ibru
A Testimony:
“Mamma Ibru is the Greatest Mother in Nigeria”
By Mr. Samson O. Eruvwavwe

“The Ibru family is one of the greatest and foremost in Nigeria. I believe that there should be only a few Nigerians whose lives have not been touched in one way or the other by the Ibrus.

“I worked as a Stenographer in Mitchell Farms, a subsidiary of the Ibru Organisation, from January 25, 1985 to May 15, 1989.  During my employment in the Ibru Organisation, I came to realise that Olorogun M.C.O. Ibru is a very, very liberal person and his liberality was reflected in the conditions of service applicable to all employees in the group. As a matter of fact, the Ibru Blue Book which contained condition of service for all junior staff in the entire Ibru Organisation, was well-known all over Nigeria.

“In the ‘80s when I was engaged in Mitchell Farms, there were 53 different companies in the Ibru Organisation which cut across every sector of the economy! And the number of Nigerians who benefited from the Ibrus through direct employment, or sales agency, or contracts, or clientele services ran into millions. As a matter of fact, the Ibru Organisation, as at that time, was the greatest employer of labour in the organised private sector (OPS) in Nigeria.

“Educationally, many Nigerians also benefited from the Ibrus. Many underprivileged children were given good education through scholarships by the Ibrus, and many workers were sponsored abroad for specialised trainings by the various companies in the Ibru Organisation. In Mitchell Farms alone, more than five persons were sent to Salisbury, for courses in animal husbandry during my stay.

“Now, let me talk about the late Mama Ibru. It is not an exaggeration to say that Mama Janet Omotogor Ibru was the greatest mother in Nigeria. I have not heard of any other woman in Nigeria, who was mother of seven millionaires! I mean all her children — five men and two women — are well-known millionaires!

“Some employees had complained that Mama Ibru was hard. But I did not see her to be so. Such employees who complained were either questionable or lazy.  I rendered personal services to Mama and also chatted with her several times in the‘80s. In those days, Mitchell Farms had a tradition of giving free-of-charge (FOC) frozen chickens to its workers every week. Every junior staff was entitled to one chicken weekly, senior staff to two and management staff to three. Mama Ibru was entitled to three chickens weekly and I had to take them to her home in Ovwor-Olomu frequently, as most of my co-workers were afraid of facing her.

“Mama Ibru was reputed to have fought against those who embezzled money in any of the companies in the Ibru group. She, indeed, protected the business interests of her children and thereby contributed to the growth and popularity of the Ibru Organisation. That is something that every good mother in Urhoboland should learn from. Let no mother in Urhoboland pull down her children; rather, all mothers should build up their children in emulation of Mama Janet Omotogor Ibru.”


 Culled from Weekend Urhobo Voice, Thursday April 27 – Thursday May 4, 2006, page 6


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