The first civilian governor of Delta State, Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru died in Lagos on Saturday.
He was aged 80.
Family sources said the former senator had been battling ill-health in the last five years.
The late Ibru became governor on January 2, 1992 but was removed from office on November 17, 1993 after General Sani Abacha coup which overthrew the then interim government of Chief Ernest Shonekan.
He also represented Delta Central in the Senate from 2003 to 2007 and later led the Urhobos as President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU.
A family source said the former governor, who hailed from Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North Local Government Area, died at about 1pm in a Lagos hospital.
The news of the death threw his community, Agbarha-Otor, into mourning.
Deltans, including Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, described Ibru’s death as a big loss to the political class.
The present Delta State governor, Gov. Okowa commiserated with the Ibru family over the death.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, described the deceased as a patriot and political icon who led the state in her embryonic stage.
He said: “Senator Ibru will be missed by all whose lives he touched in many diverse ways in his very fulfilled and achievements-laden life”.
Former Governor of Delta, Emmanuel Uduaghan described Sen. Ibru as a statesmen who spend most of his public life in the service of the common man.
The former governor, in a statement, recalled the deceased’s giant strides as governor and senator, saying his wise counsel and patriotism will be missed by Deltans and Nigerians.
The senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege, in his reaction, said: “It is with great shock and sense of great loss that I received the news of the passing of Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru.
“He was a great son of Urhobo who served the Urhobo nation meritoriously as Urhobo Progress Union President General and Nigeria as senator”.
Olorogun John Oguma, on his part, said this is not the best of time for the Osadjere family of Ovwor-Olomu, saying: “ Felix Ibru’s death is a big loss to us in the Osadjere family in particular, Urhobo nation, Delta and Nigeria as a whole.”
National leader of the Urhobo Nationality Council, Olorogun Jaro Egbo, said: “We are shocked at the news of the demise of the first civilian governor of Delta State, Olorogun Felix Ibru.
“This is great loss to Urhobo nation where he served as President General of UPU, to Delta State where he served as the first civilian governor and to the nation where he served as senator.
“The Urhobo nation will miss the counsel and advice of the elder statesman”.
Senator James Manager, representing Delta South, in his tribute, described Ibru as a “great statesman, very effective administrator, a man who brought a lot of dignity to governance, a man of his words.”
Manager, who served under the deceased as Commissioner for Youth, Sport and Social Development, said Delta, under Ibru, would have gone far ahead of other states but for the coup of November 17, 1993, “which swept everybody away and therefore brought to an end a very purposeful era.”
The senator added: “He was one of the most hard working senators even though he was one of the oldest and he excelled in the committee on establishments that was given to him. All the assignments that were given to him he excelled in them. Senator Ibru excelled as a governor, he excelled as a businessman and excelled as a lawmaker and also as a community leader.”
The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya, also mourned Ibru.
Igbuya lauded the deceased’s great concern for the unity of Nigeria, the growth of democracy and development of Delta State.
Majority Leader of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Tim Owhefere, in a tribute, said the death of Ibru was a sad development.
He described the former governor as a” front line politician who nurtured the modern day Delta into what it is today as our first governor.”
UPU, which Ibru led, said the Urhobo had lost a good soul.
UPU Interim Public Relations Officer, Chief Josiah Ntekume, in a statement by the Urhobo apex leadership organ, said, “The passing of Ibru came as a shock to the Urhobo nation. A good heart has stopped beating. A good soul has has ascended to heaven. We part in pains with our beloved former governor and UPU President General.”
On its part, the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILT, described the truncated governorship administration of the late Ibru as unrivaled in the annals of the state, saying his demise is a loss to Nigeria.
Secretary, ILT, Edward Ekpoko, in the group’s statement, said, “Since his time as governor, successive governments in Delta state has been in the hands of ragamuffins. He had respect for competence and he was a pacesetter”.
Chief Great Ogboru said: “In private life, business and public service, Olorogun Felix Ibru left worthy imprints in our peoples’ hearts and history. Like every Ibru, he was iconic and held in very high esteem by our leaders and people world over for his deep wisdom and positive contributions to Nigeria’s development and humanity in general. His exit is a shock for me. Nigeria has lost a great force for national unity, peaceful ethnic coexistence and good governance. This is a sad day for the Urhobo Nation in particular.”