The death of respected elder statesman, political leader and notable administrator, Olorogun Felix Ovudoroye Ibru, not surprisingly, elicited reactions from several quarters. Many Nigerians have been mourning his passage, describing it as a big loss to Delta State and the nation.
The greatness of the man is also underlined by the torrents of eulogies from individuals and groups, with Deltans across the ethnic divides full of appreciation for the contributions of their first civilian governor to finding its tender feet only a few months after it was created on August 28, 1991. Even after his burial on Wednesday August 3, 2016 the tributes have continued to flow.
Born on December 7, 1935 at Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State to Chief Peter Epete Ibru and Chief (Mrs) Janet Omotogor Ibru, Felix had, from his early years, struggled and succeeded in overcoming the challenges of his humble background.
Within the eight decades of his lifetime, he contributed to the progress and development of Nigeria as an architect, educationist, businessman, politician, community leader and philanthropist. He emerged as the first elected Governor of Delta State, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Delta Central and President of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU).
As the Governor of Delta State, he applied the expertise derived from his training as an architect to create the master plan of Asaba, the state capital. He elevated the then College of Education, Abraka to a full-fledged university, the Delta State University (DELSU). Unfortunately, the military terminated his tenure in November, 1993 after 23 months in office, thus short-circuiting his vision for the young state.
Olorogun Ibru became the rallying point of the Urhobo nation when he assumed the leadership of the presidency of the UPU, during which he contributed to the peaceful coexistence of Urhobos and other ethnic groups in Delta State in the highly volatile Niger Delta region.
In a moving funeral oration, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, aptly depicted how Ibru would best be remembered: “Felix Ibru will be remembered as a patriot, a man of courage and an extraordinary leader who always stood on the side of the people. His life reminds us that wealth and service are not antithetical to each other, that our true wealth lies in our willingness to give ourselves, our time and resources for the common good”.
Felix belonged to the class of political leaders who devoted their lives and personal resources to serve; and came out with their integrity intact, unlike many of today’s politicians who, after completing their terms of office, keep a date with the anti-graft agencies.
He lived a life worthy of emulation. We wish his soul eternal rest.