Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man

Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man

By Reuben Abati


alt"The song is ended, but the melody lingers on…" (Irving Berlin)

"How old are you?"

"33 sir"

"Then, you are not too young. Why do they say you are young? I'll give you the job. And I am the one giving you the job, not anyone else. I won't disturb you. I believe you understand the company's philosophy. If you do a good job, I'll promote you and stand by you".

"Thank you, sir"

"The only thing I ask of you is don't quarrel with anybody. If you have any issues that bother you, tell my wife. If she cannot solve the problem, come directly to me."

That was Mr. Ibru. He kept his word. He promoted me three times within a year; whenever there was a problem, he stood by me. A newspaper house is a hotbed of intrigues, journalists being very egoistic professionals, and those in the support services, even worse, with every little man in the corridor, an ambitious tale-bearer, within and outside the organization. After many years of experience, Alex Ibru had mastered the art of separating the false tales from the truth and so he related to his senior staff according to his own codes. Mr. Ibru, a graduate of Business Studies (something he was very proud of) was also a master of human psychology and strategic business planning.

He took his management staff very seriously, kept in constant touch, always supportive without interfering, and forever planning ahead and insisting on fidelity to company philosophy. The gain was that he built an army of fierce loyalists whose most important achievement was having worked at The Guardian. However, many of his staff misinterpreted his insistence on company philosophy. He had once taken time out to explain this subject, on one of those rare occasions when he called us upstairs to outline the philosophy of his newspaper business. A newspaper, Mr. Ibru would argue stands at the intersection between government, private sector and civil society, and its key business is to defend the powerless, to hold government accountable and to promote humanistic values. For him, the newspaper is the platform for revolutions, to dislodge hypocrisy and enthrone the truth, and to mobilize positive energies for societal renewal.

He was faithful to this creed, and regularly, he'd ask his senior staff to read "What The Guardian stands for": the newspaper's famous mission statement. He'd not give you an editorial position if he thought you had never read this statement! He was a man of many means and investments, but The Guardian was the centre piece of his passion. He encouraged us to be fearless in our writings because according to him, he did not owe anybody a penny, he was not looking for government contracts, and he was not beholden to anyone. He kept a spartan life style, and stayed away from aso ebi, owambe parties, the glitterati and the fashionista, and any form of ostentation. And because he didn't have to look behind his own shoulders, reporters and editors working at The Guardian could do their job with great confidence and independence.

Mr Ibru did not interfere in the recruitment of staff; he did not dictate what stories or editorials should be published; and because he did not dictate to us, a Guardian editor till tomorrow would readily take offence if any outsider tries to dictate how a material should be treated. "Even Mr Ibru who owns this place will not do that!", is a common refrain on the lips of editors trying to get meddlesome interlopers off their backs. And jokingly among ourselves we would add: "No be so?", one of Mr Ibru's pet phrases.

A man of great faith, he always referred to God and divine Grace. He reminded his staff at every turn, that money belongs to God. He told us we were all working for ourselves, not for him, and that we were very lucky indeed! He had set up the newspaper, he would add, as a public trust to serve the Nigerian people, and to provide opportunities for brilliant persons to realize their potentials to the fullest. The Guardian is perhaps the only newspaper with the best assurance of job security. Management restructuring was rather rare, in 28 years, the newspaper has had only three Managing Directors and four Editors. It is curious, however, that over time, many of the staff took Mr. Ibru's spirituality for granted. Believing that the company indeed belonged to them, some staff got carried away. They wanted to dictate how much they should be paid. They monitored the company cash flow as if it belonged to them personally and collectively and if the Chairman, or members of his family enjoyed any privilege, they wanted the same for themselves!

On those occasions when the Publisher asserted his rights as owner, a lot of resentment and bitterness erupted. Did he not tell us that this is God's company and that we could work here until our walking stick fails us? Yes, we know we are working in "the Lord's vineyard", but even "missionaries" would love to inherit a part of the estate. Such staff soon lost their walking sticks before they got a chance to use it! In fact, a few years ago, Mr Ibru sacked everybody, paid all entitlements and shut down the newspaper for about two months. The same aggrieved staff went to beg him to reopen the company. Always, there were happy endings. Many who left the company in a huff usually returned to ask for fresh appointments at The Guardian and Mr. Ibru always graciously took them back, without any trace of bitterness.

His contributions to Nigeria's newspaper industry are outstanding. When The Guardian arrived on the newsstands in 1983, it transformed the image of the newspaper business in the country, with its robust and detailed analysis of issues, intellectual character, innovative page planning and the sassiness of its team. The Guardian style and tradition, now a subject of enlightened scholarly interrogation, would occupy for all times, a special chapter in the history of Nigerian journalism, and the credit for that, belongs mainly to Alex Ibru.

He provided the ambience, the resources, and even more importantly, the strength of character and vision which sustained the organization through thick and thin. He was always quick to remark that the credit for the newspaper's success belongs to the staff ("you are the experts, my job is to help you, I am only God's vessel"); it is of course axiomatic that an organization is only as successful as its people. But beyond the people, there is the ownership-leadership factor. Mr Ibru was fiercely competitive; having his newspaper described as the best in the country, and his staff as the brightest, was all that he wanted, and in all seasons, The Guardian has always been lucky to have extremely dedicated staff. "I worked so hard in this place, I almost forgot to marry," a senior colleague once lamented. The good news is that in the end he did, and had enough presence of mind to father a brood!

In his last years, Mr. Ibru spoke a lot about succession and sustainability, and he worked hard at it, taking clear steps to prepare for a post-Alex Ibru era, by involving his wife and children in the business; in private conversations, he spoke endlessly about what I termed his "back up theory of business". By this, he meant that there must always be a back up for every staff, even for the Publisher, and the cleaner, so that if anyone leaves, or dies, the company remains. Now, the challenge to Mr. Ibru's successors is to sustain the tradition, to keep the fire of the enthusiasm of dedicated staff aglow, and take the newspaper to greater heights.

Illness of any sort erodes the human spirit and it is obvious why that is so. Those who loved Mr. Ibru felt every bit of pain, as they watched his struggle with debilitating illness in the last two years. His spirit was nonetheless strong. He remained active and articulate, and it could be said of him, that he faced death with sheer equanimity.

The Alex Ibru I knew was intensely political. Nigeria meant a lot to him. He read newspapers, and monitored the broadcast channels with the thirst of an insatiable knowledge-seeker. He loathed corruption of any hue and reports of it infuriated him. He never wasted any opportunity to express his concerns about the governance of Nigeria. Many may not remember his contributions in this regard but he was one of the major supporters of the Niger Delta revolution, as he insisted on equity and justice and the rights of all ethnic minorities. During the 1993 electoral crisis and the aftermath, he supported the Democratic Coalition. He had joined the Abacha Government as Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice Chair of the Provisional Ruling Council out of the conviction that change could be achieved from within the corridors of government. To show his commitment, he paid his personal aides from his pocket and he neither took a salary nor allowances. As Minister of Internal Affairs, he renovated the prisons, ensured that prisoners were better treated and championed the protection of fundamental human rights. When he felt convinced that the Abacha regime was derailing, he promptly resigned. It was a principled stand that was characteristic of him.

What followed however was a comment on the failings of the Nigerian system. In 1996, an attempt was made on his life. He narrowly escaped. But the incident left a scar. Attempts were also made to destroy The Guardian, the newspaper that was his life and passion. The military junta was vicious and cruel. "My brother warned me, you know", he said. "When I told Chief (his brother, Michael Ibru) I was going to set up a newspaper, he told me Alex, don't you try it, you want to go and get yourself killed? They'd try to kill you." Thirteen years later, Michael Ibru's admonitions proved prophetic. But Chairman, as we called him, was undeterred. He bore his scar, stoically, and urged his editors never to compromise the newspaper's standards. Five months ago, when he and President Goodluck Jonathan discussed my going to work for the President, he initially opposed the idea. But when he saw that I was determined to take a leave of absence, his last response was: "I don't want you to go. But whatever decision you take, I promise you, I will stand by you and support you." Again, he kept his word.

When friends and family gather to pay their last respects, they'd be bidding farewell to a man ahead of his society, a visionary, a philanthropist, an astute businessman, and a true newspaper man. He touched and transformed many lives and gave me and others, an opportunity to discover ourselves. He was a very kind and loving man. His exit, like his entire life and career, was not without a touch of the poetic. He gave up the ghost on November 20, on his wife, Maiden's birthday. He and Maiden are thus forever united, not by death, but love. "When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). So let it be, with Alex Uruemu Ibru. "…God seeth the sons of Israel and God knoweth… (Exodus 2: 25). Sleep well, sir.

Dr. Reuben Abati, spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan, was Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, 2001 -2011.

__________________________________________________________________



1
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Mask posted on 12-18-2011, 18:33:19 PM
I recall with nostalgia how I read Guardian newspaper nearly on daily basis in the mid-80s. I read opinions expressed by writers like Olatunji Dare, Godwin Soglo, Obadan,Hassan Kukah, Madunagu, our own Reuben Abati, Ndibe and others. To lose the man, Alex Ibru, who made those free and independent opinions possible is regrettable.
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Emj posted on 12-18-2011, 18:40:08 PM
A well written piece you have here Reuby.

Your former boss was a good teacher......May his Soul rest in peace.....

PS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.........Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results. ...Anon
Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Reuben Abati posted on 12-18-2011, 22:55:24 PM
Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man

By Reuben Abati

user posted image"The song is ended, but the melody lingers on..." (Irving Berlin)

"How old are you?"

"33 sir"

"Then, you are not too young. Why do they say you are young? I'll give you the job. And I am the one giving you the job, not anyone else. I won't disturb you. I believe you understand the company's philosophy. If you do a good job, I'll promote you and stand by you".

"Thank you, sir"

"The only thing I ask of you is don't quarrel with anybody. If you have any issues that bother you, tell my wife. If she cannot solve the problem, come directly to me."

   That was Mr. Ibru. He kept his word. He promoted me three times within a year; whenever there was a problem, he stood by me. A newspaper house is a hotbed of intrigues, journalists being very egoistic professionals, and those in the support services, even worse, with every little man in the corridor, an ambitious tale-bearer, within and outside the organization. After many years of experience, Alex Ibru had mastered the art of separating the false tales from the truth and so he related to his senior staff according to his own codes.  Mr. Ibru, a graduate of Business Studies (something he was very proud of) was also a master of human psychology and strategic business planning.

    He took his management staff very seriously, kept in constant touch, always supportive without interfering, and forever planning ahead and insisting on fidelity to company philosophy. The gain was that he built an army of fierce loyalists whose most important achievement was having worked at The Guardian. However, many of his staff misinterpreted his insistence on company philosophy. He had once taken time out to explain this subject, on one of those rare occasions when he called us upstairs to outline the philosophy of his newspaper business. A newspaper, Mr. Ibru would argue stands at the intersection between government, private sector and civil society, and its key business is to defend the powerless, to hold government accountable and to promote humanistic values. For him, the newspaper is the platform for revolutions, to dislodge hypocrisy and enthrone the truth, and to mobilize positive energies for societal renewal.

    He was faithful to this creed, and regularly, he'd ask his senior staff to read "What The Guardian stands for": the newspaper's famous mission statement. He'd not give you an editorial position if he thought you had never read this statement! He was a man of many means and investments, but The Guardian was the centre piece of his passion. He encouraged us to be fearless in our writings because according to him, he did not owe anybody a penny, he was not looking for government contracts, and he was not beholden to anyone. He kept a spartan life style, and stayed away from aso ebi, owambe parties, the glitterati and the fashionista, and any form of ostentation. And because he didn't have to look behind his own shoulders, reporters and editors working at The Guardian could do their job with great confidence and independence.

    Mr Ibru did not interfere in the recruitment of staff; he did not dictate what stories or editorials should be published; and because he did not dictate to us, a Guardian editor till tomorrow would readily take offence if any outsider tries to dictate how a material should be treated. "Even Mr Ibru who owns this place will not do that!", is a common refrain on the lips of editors trying to get meddlesome interlopers off their backs. And jokingly among ourselves we would add: "No be so?", one of Mr Ibru's pet phrases.

    A man of great faith, he always referred to God and divine Grace. He reminded his staff at every turn, that money belongs to God. He told us we were all working for ourselves, not for him, and that we were very lucky indeed! He had set up the newspaper, he would add, as a public trust to serve the Nigerian people, and to provide opportunities for brilliant persons to realize their potentials to the fullest. The Guardian is perhaps the only newspaper with the best assurance of job security. Management restructuring was rather rare, in 28 years, the newspaper has had only three Managing Directors and four Editors.  It is curious, however, that over time, many of the staff took Mr. Ibru's spirituality for granted. Believing that the company indeed belonged to them, some staff  got carried away. They wanted to dictate how much they should be paid. They monitored the company cash flow as if it belonged to them personally and collectively and if the Chairman, or members of his family enjoyed any privilege, they wanted the same for themselves!

       On those occasions when the Publisher asserted his rights as owner, a lot of resentment and bitterness erupted. Did he not tell us that this is God's company and that we could work here until our walking stick fails us? Yes, we know we are working in "the Lord's vineyard", but even "missionaries" would love to inherit a part of the estate. Such staff soon lost their walking sticks before they got a chance to use it!  In fact, a few years ago, Mr Ibru sacked everybody, paid all entitlements and shut down the newspaper for about two months. The same aggrieved staff went to beg him to reopen the company. Always, there were happy endings. Many who left the company in a huff usually returned to ask for fresh appointments at The Guardian and Mr. Ibru always graciously took them back, without any trace of bitterness.

   His contributions to Nigeria's newspaper industry are outstanding. When The Guardian arrived on the newsstands in 1983, it transformed the image of the newspaper business in the country, with its robust and detailed analysis of issues, intellectual character, innovative page planning and the sassiness of its team. The Guardian style and tradition, now a subject of enlightened scholarly interrogation, would occupy for all times, a special chapter in the history of Nigerian journalism, and the credit for that, belongs mainly to Alex Ibru.Â

     He provided the ambience, the resources, and even more importantly, the strength of character and vision which sustained the organization through thick and thin. He was always quick to remark that the credit for the newspaper's success belongs to the staff ("you are the experts, my job is to help you, I am only God's vessel"); it is of course axiomatic that an organization is only as successful as its people. But beyond the people, there is the ownership-leadership factor. Mr Ibru was fiercely competitive; having his newspaper described as the best in the country, and his staff as the brightest, was all that he wanted, and in all seasons, The Guardian has always been lucky to have extremely dedicated staff. "I worked so hard in this place, I almost forgot to marry," a senior colleague once lamented. The good news is that in the end he did, and had enough presence of mind to father a brood!

    In his last years, Mr. Ibru spoke a lot about succession and sustainability, and he worked hard at it, taking clear steps to prepare for a post-Alex Ibru era, by involving his wife and children in the business;  in private conversations, he spoke endlessly about what I termed his "back up theory of business". By this, he meant that there must always be a back up for every staff, even for the Publisher, and the cleaner, so that if anyone leaves, or dies, the company remains. Now, the challenge to Mr. Ibru's successors is to sustain the tradition, to keep the fire of the enthusiasm of dedicated staff aglow, and take the newspaper to greater heights.

     Illness of any sort erodes the human spirit and it is obvious why that is so. Those who loved Mr. Ibru felt every bit of pain, as they watched his struggle with debilitating illness in the last two years. His spirit was nonetheless strong. He remained active and articulate, and it could be said of him, that he faced death with sheer equanimity.

   The Alex Ibru I knew was intensely political. Nigeria meant a lot to him. He read newspapers, and monitored the broadcast channels with the thirst of an insatiable knowledge-seeker. He loathed corruption of any hue and reports of it infuriated him. He never wasted any opportunity to express his concerns about the governance of Nigeria. Many may not remember his contributions in this regard but he was one of the major supporters of the Niger Delta revolution, as he insisted on equity and justice and the rights of all ethnic minorities. During the 1993 electoral crisis and the aftermath, he supported the Democratic Coalition. He had joined the Abacha Government as Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice Chair of the Provisional Ruling Council out of the conviction that change could be achieved from within the corridors of government. To show his commitment, he paid his personal aides from his pocket and he neither took a salary nor allowances. As Minister of Internal Affairs, he renovated the prisons, ensured that prisoners were better treated and championed the protection of fundamental human rights. When he felt convinced that the Abacha regime was derailing, he promptly resigned. It was a principled stand that was characteristic of him. Â

     What followed however was a comment on the failings of the Nigerian system. In 1996, an attempt was made on his life. He narrowly escaped. But the incident left a scar. Attempts were also made to destroy The Guardian, the newspaper that was his life and passion. The military junta was vicious and cruel. "My brother warned me, you know", he said. "When I told Chief (his brother, Michael Ibru) I was going to set up a newspaper, he told me Alex, don't you try it, you want to go and get yourself killed? They'd try to kill you." Thirteen years later, Michael Ibru's admonitions proved prophetic. But Chairman, as we called him, was undeterred. He bore his scar, stoically, and urged his editors never to compromise the newspaper's standards. Five months ago, when he and President Goodluck Jonathan discussed my going to work for the President, he initially opposed the idea. But when he saw that I was determined to take a leave of absence, his last response was: "I don't want you to go. But whatever decision you take, I promise you, I will stand by you and support you." Again, he kept his word.

    When friends and family gather to pay their last respects, they'd be bidding farewell to a man ahead of his society, a visionary, a philanthropist, an astute businessman, and a true newspaper man. He touched and transformed many lives and gave me and others, an opportunity to discover ourselves. He was a very kind and loving man. His exit, like his entire life and career, was not without a touch of the poetic. He gave up the ghost on November 20, on his wife, Maiden's birthday. He and Maiden are thus forever united, not by death, but love. "When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). So let it be, with Alex Uruemu Ibru. "...God seeth the sons of Israel and God knoweth... (Exodus 2: 25). Sleep well, sir.

Â

Dr. Reuben Abati, spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan, was Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, 2001 -2011.

  __________________________________________________________________

Read full article
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
PatrickIroegbu posted on 12-18-2011, 22:55:24 PM

Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man


By Reuben Abati




alt"The song is ended, but the melody lingers on…" (Irving Berlin)


"How old are you?"


"33 sir"


"Then, you are not too young. Why do they say you are young? I'll give you the job. And I am the one giving you the job, not anyone else. I won't disturb you. I believe you understand the company's philosophy. If you do a good job, I'll promote you and stand by you".


"Thank you, sir"


"The only thing I ask of you is don't quarrel with anybody. If you have any issues that bother you, tell my wife. If she cannot solve the problem, come directly to me."


That was Mr. Ibru. He kept his word. He promoted me three times within a year; whenever there was a problem, he stood by me. A newspaper house is a hotbed of intrigues, journalists being very egoistic professionals, and those in the support services, even worse, with every little man in the corridor, an ambitious tale-bearer, within and outside the organization. After many years of experience, Alex Ibru had mastered the art of separating the false tales from the truth and so he related to his senior staff according to his own codes. Mr. Ibru, a graduate of Business Studies (something he was very proud of) was also a master of human psychology and strategic business planning.


He took his management staff very seriously, kept in constant touch, always supportive without interfering, and forever planning ahead and insisting on fidelity to company philosophy. The gain was that he built an army of fierce loyalists whose most important achievement was having worked at The Guardian. However, many of his staff misinterpreted his insistence on company philosophy. He had once taken time out to explain this subject, on one of those rare occasions when he called us upstairs to outline the philosophy of his newspaper business. A newspaper, Mr. Ibru would argue stands at the intersection between government, private sector and civil society, and its key business is to defend the powerless, to hold government accountable and to promote humanistic values. For him, the newspaper is the platform for revolutions, to dislodge hypocrisy and enthrone the truth, and to mobilize positive energies for societal renewal.


He was faithful to this creed, and regularly, he'd ask his senior staff to read "What The Guardian stands for": the newspaper's famous mission statement. He'd not give you an editorial position if he thought you had never read this statement! He was a man of many means and investments, but The Guardian was the centre piece of his passion. He encouraged us to be fearless in our writings because according to him, he did not owe anybody a penny, he was not looking for government contracts, and he was not beholden to anyone. He kept a spartan life style, and stayed away from aso ebi, owambe parties, the glitterati and the fashionista, and any form of ostentation. And because he didn't have to look behind his own shoulders, reporters and editors working at The Guardian could do their job with great confidence and independence.


Mr Ibru did not interfere in the recruitment of staff; he did not dictate what stories or editorials should be published; and because he did not dictate to us, a Guardian editor till tomorrow would readily take offence if any outsider tries to dictate how a material should be treated. "Even Mr Ibru who owns this place will not do that!", is a common refrain on the lips of editors trying to get meddlesome interlopers off their backs. And jokingly among ourselves we would add: "No be so?", one of Mr Ibru's pet phrases.


A man of great faith, he always referred to God and divine Grace. He reminded his staff at every turn, that money belongs to God. He told us we were all working for ourselves, not for him, and that we were very lucky indeed! He had set up the newspaper, he would add, as a public trust to serve the Nigerian people, and to provide opportunities for brilliant persons to realize their potentials to the fullest. The Guardian is perhaps the only newspaper with the best assurance of job security. Management restructuring was rather rare, in 28 years, the newspaper has had only three Managing Directors and four Editors. It is curious, however, that over time, many of the staff took Mr. Ibru's spirituality for granted. Believing that the company indeed belonged to them, some staff got carried away. They wanted to dictate how much they should be paid. They monitored the company cash flow as if it belonged to them personally and collectively and if the Chairman, or members of his family enjoyed any privilege, they wanted the same for themselves!


On those occasions when the Publisher asserted his rights as owner, a lot of resentment and bitterness erupted. Did he not tell us that this is God's company and that we could work here until our walking stick fails us? Yes, we know we are working in "the Lord's vineyard", but even "missionaries" would love to inherit a part of the estate. Such staff soon lost their walking sticks before they got a chance to use it! In fact, a few years ago, Mr Ibru sacked everybody, paid all entitlements and shut down the newspaper for about two months. The same aggrieved staff went to beg him to reopen the company. Always, there were happy endings. Many who left the company in a huff usually returned to ask for fresh appointments at The Guardian and Mr. Ibru always graciously took them back, without any trace of bitterness.


His contributions to Nigeria's newspaper industry are outstanding. When The Guardian arrived on the newsstands in 1983, it transformed the image of the newspaper business in the country, with its robust and detailed analysis of issues, intellectual character, innovative page planning and the sassiness of its team. The Guardian style and tradition, now a subject of enlightened scholarly interrogation, would occupy for all times, a special chapter in the history of Nigerian journalism, and the credit for that, belongs mainly to Alex Ibru.


He provided the ambience, the resources, and even more importantly, the strength of character and vision which sustained the organization through thick and thin. He was always quick to remark that the credit for the newspaper's success belongs to the staff ("you are the experts, my job is to help you, I am only God's vessel"); it is of course axiomatic that an organization is only as successful as its people. But beyond the people, there is the ownership-leadership factor. Mr Ibru was fiercely competitive; having his newspaper described as the best in the country, and his staff as the brightest, was all that he wanted, and in all seasons, The Guardian has always been lucky to have extremely dedicated staff. "I worked so hard in this place, I almost forgot to marry," a senior colleague once lamented. The good news is that in the end he did, and had enough presence of mind to father a brood!


In his last years, Mr. Ibru spoke a lot about succession and sustainability, and he worked hard at it, taking clear steps to prepare for a post-Alex Ibru era, by involving his wife and children in the business; in private conversations, he spoke endlessly about what I termed his "back up theory of business". By this, he meant that there must always be a back up for every staff, even for the Publisher, and the cleaner, so that if anyone leaves, or dies, the company remains. Now, the challenge to Mr. Ibru's successors is to sustain the tradition, to keep the fire of the enthusiasm of dedicated staff aglow, and take the newspaper to greater heights.


Illness of any sort erodes the human spirit and it is obvious why that is so. Those who loved Mr. Ibru felt every bit of pain, as they watched his struggle with debilitating illness in the last two years. His spirit was nonetheless strong. He remained active and articulate, and it could be said of him, that he faced death with sheer equanimity.


The Alex Ibru I knew was intensely political. Nigeria meant a lot to him. He read newspapers, and monitored the broadcast channels with the thirst of an insatiable knowledge-seeker. He loathed corruption of any hue and reports of it infuriated him. He never wasted any opportunity to express his concerns about the governance of Nigeria. Many may not remember his contributions in this regard but he was one of the major supporters of the Niger Delta revolution, as he insisted on equity and justice and the rights of all ethnic minorities. During the 1993 electoral crisis and the aftermath, he supported the Democratic Coalition. He had joined the Abacha Government as Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice Chair of the Provisional Ruling Council out of the conviction that change could be achieved from within the corridors of government. To show his commitment, he paid his personal aides from his pocket and he neither took a salary nor allowances. As Minister of Internal Affairs, he renovated the prisons, ensured that prisoners were better treated and championed the protection of fundamental human rights. When he felt convinced that the Abacha regime was derailing, he promptly resigned. It was a principled stand that was characteristic of him.


What followed however was a comment on the failings of the Nigerian system. In 1996, an attempt was made on his life. He narrowly escaped. But the incident left a scar. Attempts were also made to destroy The Guardian, the newspaper that was his life and passion. The military junta was vicious and cruel. "My brother warned me, you know", he said. "When I told Chief (his brother, Michael Ibru) I was going to set up a newspaper, he told me Alex, don't you try it, you want to go and get yourself killed? They'd try to kill you." Thirteen years later, Michael Ibru's admonitions proved prophetic. But Chairman, as we called him, was undeterred. He bore his scar, stoically, and urged his editors never to compromise the newspaper's standards. Five months ago, when he and President Goodluck Jonathan discussed my going to work for the President, he initially opposed the idea. But when he saw that I was determined to take a leave of absence, his last response was: "I don't want you to go. But whatever decision you take, I promise you, I will stand by you and support you." Again, he kept his word.


When friends and family gather to pay their last respects, they'd be bidding farewell to a man ahead of his society, a visionary, a philanthropist, an astute businessman, and a true newspaper man. He touched and transformed many lives and gave me and others, an opportunity to discover ourselves. He was a very kind and loving man. His exit, like his entire life and career, was not without a touch of the poetic. He gave up the ghost on November 20, on his wife, Maiden's birthday. He and Maiden are thus forever united, not by death, but love. "When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). So let it be, with Alex Uruemu Ibru. "…God seeth the sons of Israel and God knoweth… (Exodus 2: 25). Sleep well, sir.



Dr. Reuben Abati, spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan, was Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, 2001 -2011.


__________________________________________________________________



..Read the full article
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Changeagent posted on 12-21-2011, 22:56:24 PM
Mr. Alex Ibru was a great man indeed. Nigeria will surely miss him. The iconic Ibru family of Urhobo of Delta State are a model and bright light to Nigeria. The patriarch of the family Chief Micheal Ibru, the Founder/Chairman of the IBRU Organization has been my hero and role model for over 40 years. To watch the parade of the personalities from al works of life on personal condolence visit to the Ibru family home following his death is a marvel to behold. The heartfelt glowing tributes to the Alex Ibru family on the passage of Mr. Alex is testament to the quality and substance of his life. The man loved God and Jesus Christ His son and it showed in the way he lived his life. May Alex Ibru gentle soul rest in peace.
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Kenn posted on 12-22-2011, 08:56:03 AM
.


Reuben,

Thank you for this testimony. It is good that those who knew Mr Alex Ibru when he was alive are coming out to speak. I read the reaction of Mr Femi Kusa upon his death and his tasteless piece in The Nation, which became a huge debating point on the USA Africa Dialogue listserv. I was really angry at how Mr Kusa characterised him and I made sure I said my piece. Mr Ibru was a great Nigerian who has done his bit for his country and the world. History will judge him highly.

..
Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Auspicious posted on 12-22-2011, 09:32:09 AM
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That is a moving eulogy to a departed boss.

There must have been something special about Alex Ibru:

For weeks, I pored over The Guardian's news and photos, of all manners of persons streaming to the Ibrus' home to pay homage to his memory and offer succor to his bereaved wife and children. Persons from all walks of life came. From various political and economic backgrounds, forgotten faces and familiar faces, came out of the woodwork to mourn at the Ibrus' with the same facial expression of genuine kindness and concern for those whom Alex U. Ibru left behind.

For many years in Nigeria, The Guardian was the only newspaper I would read. The rest were simply inferior in my estimation of them. The newspaper, for me, made news easier to read: the intelligent typesetting, the absence of sensational headlines (you will never read anything in the newspaper like: \\"Inferno: 40 People Roasted Alive on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway!\\") for a general pattern of responsible reporting with a gentle touch of intelligent conservatism.

Growing up, I developed a passion for print news through The Guardian. The Guardian is for me in Nigeria, what the New York Times is for me in the United States. Even the editorial cartoons were far more intelligent and serious minded than the ones in all the other newspapers, with \\"Obe Ess\\" being my favorite of the newspaper's cartoonists. To date, I still hold on to old cut-outs of many of those cartoons, editorials and contributing op-ed pieces from the The Guardian. I got to know of writers like Olatunji Dare, Okey Ndibe and Reuben Abati and others through The Guardian.

When Mr. Abati was appointed by President Jonathan recently, my mother mentioned to me over the phone from Nigeria in an excited tone that \\"Your friend at The Guardian, the Reuben man, has been appointed spokesperson to the president!\\". Two things: I was amused by her giggly excitation on the other end of the phone as I was surprised by her referring to a distant man I never knew or met as my friend. Better said, I didn't know she was aware of my being an avid reader of Dr. Abati - all thanks to the man Alex Ibru, whose stables made it possible to read folks like Abati for so long.

There must have been something special about the man Alex Ibru. Wherever you read about him, or hear people talk about him; it is almost always in the same warm tones. For someone I never knew (and I had no way of knowing him anyways), I have this impression of a man who effused gentility and decency. And looking at the final portrait of his face in The Guardian on the day he was interred for his final journey to the 'great beyond', his handsome face conveyed
, more than ever before, the peace and decency and humble spirits that I have come to associate with Alex Ibru.

A few days ago, as I read in The Vanguard of the wife's recount of her ordeals since he was diagnosed of \\"colon cancer\\", I felt her pain: \\"\\"My husband died of cancer, aged 66, I turned 62 on November 20, the day he chose to die, he took something of me with him. Towards the end we knew it was coming, the doctors had said so and we were able to give him what is known as a good death between the hospital and home. Yet none of this made it tolerable.

\\"He had a good life, and for that we give thanks to God Almighty. Death no longer knocked at the door. It entered our house. It was all around us..fate delivered its verdict one cold grey afternoon in October 2009. Whatever it was being scanned and investigated turned out to be Stage 4, the end stage of colon cancer, liver metastasis, meaning it had then spread to the liver and another type of cancer, low grade non-Hodgkins lymphoma.\\"

That's a tough one. But, like Maiden Ibru said of her late husband, he lived a good life, and for that the family gives thanks to God. It is now left for the living to make life worth living - to live a good life, not necessarily precisely as Alex U. Ibru lived his life, but to do our utmost individual best to live a life worthy of a positive legacy to inspire others, with the virtues of consistent honor and integrity as our watchwords. May God comfort the living and bless Alex Ibru's memory.

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Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Auspicious posted on 12-22-2011, 11:49:52 AM
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PS @ Kenn:

I just read your preceding comment about Mr. Femi Kusa's op-ed piece on Alex Ibru's passing, so I went hunting for it. I have found the piece but I have only gone as far as the first paragraph, and I am already embarrassed by it.

Why, he reads like what the Yoruba call Alairolari - one who has never been privileged to behold wealth in any form. Or why, of all things notable, it is Ibru's private wealth that came to his mind at the knowledge of his painful death?

Anyway, let me read on..
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Re: Alex Ibru: There Goeth A Man
Auspicious posted on 12-22-2011, 13:19:16 PM
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Wow.

I don't know what to make of Femi Kusa's
op-ed piece at The Nation - as in, was it a tribute, an obituary, a criticism or an autobiography (of Femi Kusa), or a mishmash of all that and more? It appeared to me that Mr. Kusa wasn't sure of his intentions in that piece either. Yet, I think I know why he couldn't clearly communicate his intention.

But I'll leave that for now.

Mr. Kusa started off by drooling over Alex Ibru's wealth in the way that is common with many a black man, an African or, specifically, a Nigerian. The Rolls-Royce and all other Ibru blings that made Femi Kusa's eyes shine, he mentioned. He revealed private conversations between himself and Ibru, allegedly - how Ibru told him about buying a Rolls-Royce for his five brothers in one day, and how the same Ibru also told him even British policemen doff their hats at Ibru in his much bigger car in Britain.

At this point, you begin to wonder what all these have to do with the painful, sad, ill-timed death of Mr. Ibru. But you trudge along nevertheless, hoping that it will all make sense as you read the remaining paragraphs of the op-ed piece.

And so I read on, running into parts that read like Kusa's own biography along with his achievements, accompanied with dashes of self-adulation: how Kusa is a man of honor and integrity; how Kusa never compromised his work ethics (by keeping from interacting with Ibru for the 17 years he spent working for Rutam House); how he resisted Ibru's excesses as the owner of the company; how he ended up close to Ibru; how Ibru tried to brow-beat his workers; how he sold eggs and ice-blocks and chewing sticks and pork to make ends meet when military strongman Sanni Abacha shuttered The Guardian stables, etcetera.

In the end, Femi Kusa read at worse like a bitter man trying to suppress his bitterness, and at best like a man with a genuine grudge lacking in the courage to state his mind in an open and brutally honest way (This is where Christopher Hitchens would have deployed his brutal frankness). In that piece, he was neither here nor there. He was all over the place, his expressed thoughts as jumbled as they were self-serving.

What Mr. Kusa wrote was not about Alex Ibru, or The Guardian or anyone else for that matter; it was simply about Femi Kusa. Granted Alex Ibru may not be as innocent as he looks. Those closest to him may be in the best position to say. But the little positive things Kusa said about the late Ibru reeked of a reluctant air - a grudging tribute, unfortunately, to the man with whom he worked for 17 years. Kusa's piece was lacking abundantly in grace, or candor for that matter.

I personally may not choose this moment to do the same, but Mr. Kusa is entitled to his day in the sun to criticize or lambast Alex Ibru all he wants, especially if he believes he has grievances to air. The problem here is that Mr. Kusa pretends (yes, pretends!) to mourn Ibru alongside others, whereas all he has managed to do is use the occasion of the latter's death to give vent to suppressed grudges held against Mr. Ibru (and perhaps other co-workers at The Guardian).

To cap it all, Femi Kusa found time to admonish the Ibru family about the future of The Guardian.

And I almost laughed.
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