Olorogun Michael Ibru, once described by his children and grandchildren as a pillar of strength, a visionary guiding hand, a molder of character, an educator, a lover of children especially the family, a humanitarian per excellence, a philanthropist without recompense, a grassroots organiser and community leader, and a true patriot without equal, was also described by one among his urhobo clan, a poet-musician, as the mungo park who opened channels of riches and investment for africans.
Michael Ibru, who some close allies believe was born great, truly began to exhibit signs of greatness from his childhood days. Going by a story told about him by his immediate younger brother, the senator Felix Ibru, the first civilian governor of Delta state and also one time senator representing Delta central senatorial district in the national assembly,
Olorogun Michael Ibru was obviously destined for greatness, given his inborn tendencies to want to find out everything about anything. Late Felix recalled with amusement, a peculiar childhood experience he had with Michael in the company of his mother, when a wealthy maternal uncle, Ovedje Osadjere, asked his young nephews whatever 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, he simply took permission from his uncle to pluck some cocoa pods from his farm. The purpose for the request according to Felix was for Michael to carry out an experiment with the liquid from the pods to see if he could brew some drink from them. Ovedje was stunned by the request and granted his nephew’s request but 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.
Michael Ibru attended the famous Igbobi college, Lagos between 1948 and 1951. During the period, he not only distinguished himself in academics, he also excelled in extracurricular activities such that in his last year in school, he was appointed the senior prefect, a position usually reserved for the best students with leadership traits. The ingenuity of Olorogun Michael Ibru manifested itself for the first time at Igbobi college in 1948 when he moved up meteorically to secondary class ii straight from the elementary school without the usual preamble. In 1951, his fourth year, on a study that normally lasted six years, he passed the Cambridge school certificate examination with resounding distinction in division one.
Following the same rare path that is meant only for exceptional people, Michael Ibru, directly after leaving Igbobi college, secured a job in the United African Company, as a manager- in training. There again, this gifted man, Michael Ibru, set another pace for his peers, for he was one of the very few fresh school leavers to be so appointed to posts of responsibility by the UACN. Between 1951 and 1956 when he worked with the United Africa Company, a trading consortium that once bore the name of royal Niger company, Ibru had an intense internship that effectively prepared him for the bigger world of entrepreneurship.
Out of his love for knowledge, Olorogun Michael Ibru donated a college – Abraham college which was later re-named Ibru college, to his people. Besides, the trail blazer of the Ibru dynasty, Michael, at different times, donated classroom blocks, vehicles and money to various educational institutions and charity organizations; awarded several scholarships to deserving Nigerian students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning both in Nigeria and abroad, and sponsored various sporting activities in order to ensure an even development of the mind, soul and body. Besides education, Olorogun Michael is touted among his people to be a major pillar in the economic empowerment of the urhobo nation. This is how a very familiar source who wants to be anonymous described michael’s contribution in this vital aspect of human existence. “urhobo men and women have profited at many levels since the rise of the Ibru brand in the second half of the 1950s. First, urhobo market women were among the first batch of Nigerians to embrace the “Ibru” frozen fish. Many of them rose from relative poverty to higher economic brackets because they participated in the new Ibru ventures from market stalls”.
Among the educated, he mentored professionals that rose to become financially independent in their chosen fields of endeavor. Incidentally, most of these urhobo indigenes at one time or the other worked within the vast conglomerate of the Olorogun Michael Ibru. “there were more direct beneficiaries from Michael Ibru’s openness to his urhobo people. These were the many urhobo professionals who joined the Ibru organization. Many of them left the Ibru organization to pursue their own independent dreams constructed with the aid of ambitions conceived in the ibru organization.