IN what appears a measure of how much he is reverred in most part of the country, Nigerians from all walks of life have been falling over one another to eulogise Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian, who died on Sunday afternoon at 66.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Rueben Abati, President Goodluck Jonathan said the late Mr. Ibru contributed immensely to shaping Nigeria’s media industry by setting the standard for the industry with the publication of high quality newspapers.
“This man, whose life recorded a pattern of good works, has definitely gone too soon. Many will remember him for founding The Guardian Newspapers which set the tone for independent and balanced journalism in Nigeria. Those who knew him closely will remember him for his life’s work of quiet philanthropy,” the president said.
President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, quickly followed suit, describing the businessman’s death as a very painful loss to the country.
The senate president in a condolence message to the government and people of Mr. Ibru’s home state of Delta , said the late publisher would be remembered for his principled and irrepressible position on national issues especially as it affected the well-being of Nigerians.
“He was an unrepentant patriot and nationalist who put Nigeria first. He was a rare gem who stood to be counted when it mattered. His contributions to the political-economic and social development of the nation especially in the media industry are unequalled. He was a credible and a reliable voice for the voiceless,” the senate president said.
“No one can dispute the fact that late Ibru was one of the finest Nigerians of our generation,” he added.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, described Mr. Ibru’s demise as sad and grievous. He added that the late businessman’s passage meant the exit of a media colossus, premium entrepreneur, philanthropist, and an ecumenist.
“Alex Ibru will ever be remembered for his immense contributions to the growth of the media industry, national peace and unity, in addition to his highly principled stint in public service, his altruism, and a heart of gold that was completely and tirelessly committed to humanity till the end,” Mr. Ekweremadu said.
On his part, a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, described the late Guardian publisher as a unique and quintessential newspaper proprietor, whose standard towers above many.
Mr. Abubakar said the late publisher was a unique Nigerian who never used his newspaper to seek political influence or personal advantages from those in the corridors of power.
According to Atiku, the late publisher gave Nigerians a quality newspaper, which earned it the respect of all.
“Building and sustaining The Guardian as a formidable newspaper that speaks truth to power at all times is a rare feat in Africa, where dictatorships still hold sway, despite the practice of democratic rule,” Atiku added.
The Minister of State at the Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide, expressed shock at the demise of the publisher.
The minister described the late publisher as a quiet achiever whose landmark as the founder and publisher of The Guardian newspaper, and promoter of a balanced and robust journalism in Nigeria will be difficult to surpass.
The late Mr. Ibru, died at the age of 66, a statement by this office said on Sunday in Lagos.
“He died at about 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, Nov. 20, while in the course of an illness. He was aged 66,” the statement said.
The late Mr. Ibru was born on March 1, 1945. He was a businessman and minister of internal affairs between 1993 and 1995 during the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha. He founded The Guardian in 1983.
The businessman was a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club International, and the chairman of Trinity Foundation, a philanthropic body which gives support to the poor and the needy.
He was also the founder of the Ibru Center which promotes ecumenism and religious harmony.