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Ibusa  millionaires

Aside its prodigiously enormous natural resources, Nigeria ’s huge manpower reservoir confers on it a competitive edge that gives steel to its claim as the giant of Africa . The world over, Nigerian professionals are well represented in fields as diverse as the academia, medicine, business, politics and sports.

But nowhere is this vibrant creative pool of human resource more evident than in Ibusa, Oshimili North L.G.A, Delta State . Hemmed in on both sides by its territorially advantaged neighbours, the Asabas, which hosts the State capital to the East and Ogwashi-uku kingdom to its West, is Ibusa ,a hilly ,dusty little town .

What it lacks in land mass, it compensates for adequately by its sheer preponderance of intellectuals and men of tremendous financial means, each contributing critically to national development.

With an intimidating number of professors (over a hundred and still counting), top civil servants, professionals and wealthy businessmen, Ibusa remains the envy of many a Nigerian community.

Though by no means exhaustive, among its more illustrious personalities are HRH (Prof) Louis Nwaoboshi,,Obuzor of Ibusa, the town’s traditional ruler,who is a retired Professor of Forestry, University of Ibadan , Prof. Patrick Utomi, Presidential flag bearer, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and founder of the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS),Obi (Prof) Chike Onwuachi, distinguished Sociologist and Anthropologist and first Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and also ex-Director,African Studies &Research Programme ,Howard University, Washington D.C, Prof. Austin Esogbue, the only African in the service of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),legal luminary Prof Fidelis Oditah, (SAN) and member of the Queen’s Counsel; others are Prof Anthony Elumeze, University of Ibadan, Prof. Anthony Arinze and Prof Nolue Emenajoh, both of the University of Port Harcourt.

Ibusa also boasts of top rate bankers such as Mr. Francis Atuche, Managing Director, PHB, Mr. Sebastian Adigwe, Managing Director, Afribank; also included are top directors in the nation’s banking industry amongst them Chief Celestine Okobi, Chief Odigwe Nwarache, Mr. Augustine Halim, Mike Chigbue, Mr Eluem Emeka Izeze, Managing Director, The Guardian Newspapers and in the area of politics, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, is the chairman, PDP Delta State, indeed Ibusa is an elites’ community.

In business, Ibusa indigenes are very well represented. Among the best known are the multimillionaire business moguls Chief Peter Okocha, Chief Fred Ajudua, Chief Peter Pan Agbanishi Okeze, Chief Celestine Okobi, ex-director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the early 70’s whose business interests spans real estate and manufacturing .He owns Celest Plastic industries which manufactures plastic chairs, tables and other plastic related products. Another top businessman is Chief Uche Odidi who owns a garment factory , with extensive business interests in the West African sub-region .Others include Chief Oligbo , auto dealer and motor-cycle spare parts manufacturer, Chief Nwabudike, M.D Monti Zen with major interests in the petroleum industry

Undoubtedly, the aforementioned list of business men whose combined wealth has been rumoured can conveniently run some small-sized economies in Africa, are important players in Nigeria .

Ibusa community is the quintessential millionaires’ haven. This is reflected in the choice mansions in the rustic community. Scattered around its rustic landscape are palatial mansions built by wealthy indigenes who earn their living from outside the town. In Ibusa, modern architectural masterpieces stand in sharp contrast with sun-baked mud homes adorned with rusty corrugated zinc roofs of less endowed relatives.

A direct consequence of the concentration of many high net worth individuals in such a small community is the radical transformation of the rustic landscape with posh luxury mansions .Although claims of Ibusa as millionaires’ town , according to the town’s critics maybe slightly exaggerated, but the incredibly large number of palatial homes vacant for most part of the year has done little to change this impression.

Cynics, unfairly, scoff at the incredible number of millionaires of Ibusa origin, alluding to the fact that some have acquired their wealth through questionable means .

In Ibusa , the ancient and modern intersperse randomly evoking poignant images of the poem by Wole Soyinka " Ibadan" .Surely, Ibusa is " flung and scattered among seven hills like broken china in the sun".

But where lies the secret to the stupendous achievements of Ibusa indigenes? Prof Utomi attributes the successes to the advent of Catholic missionaries in the community in 1898. The missionaries established St Thomas Teachers Training College in 1928, ranking among the oldest institutions in Southern Nigeria.

He further believes that Ibusa traditional work ethic that promotes hard work over indolence and inculcated in the youths through the various traditional institutions plays a vital role in the successes recorded by Ibusa indigenes..

His words, "Education, no doubt, has played an important role in the successes recorded by Ibusa indigenes. St Thomas ’s college built by the Catholic mission produced many graduates that ended up in the public service of Midwestern Region and the federal civil service. And another factor is the traditional ethics of hard work passed from one generation to another".

Former Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos (NIIA) Obi (Prof.) Onwuachi agrees no less.

He notes that the structural element that weaves up the indigenous value system elicits the spirit of competition among Ibusa natives.

According to him, "Wherever an Ibusa man finds himself, he moves to be the best .It is a value in the culture. Perhaps the value is induced because of a desire to gain the good things of life because there are not many good things within Ibusa town itself. Above all a major factor behind our successes can be attributable to the grace of God. Perhaps it is a spiritual compensation for its geographical deficiency".

Despite its many successes recorded in many aspects of national life,one area in which Ibusa lags behind is in the area of politics.

Prof Onwuachi has this to say: "Ibusa has not been projected politically before now.It is only now that we are moving out in that direction. For instance, the present Delta State PDP Chairman, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi is an Ibusa son, African Democratic Congress (ADC) Presidential Candidate, Prof Patrick Utomi also hails from Ibusa, Minority leader of the Delta State’s Assembly Barrister Pat Ajudua is a daughter of Ibusa.So we are beginning to hold our own in the circles where Nigerians take note".

The numerous self-help projects embarked upon by wealthy indigenes, notwithstanding, the deplorable state of public infrastructural amenities in the community belies the enormous wealth of its sons and daughters.

For instance, the major road project bisecting the town initiated by multimillionaire businessman Chief Ajudua has seen better days and subsequently it has failed in many portions. Aside the lack of government presence in the town, another factor militating against developmental efforts of the community is disharmony among its elites.

Prof Onwuachi notes that efforts have hit the rocks to resolve endless bickering among the families in the community, pointing out that " the family conflicts have militated against collective progress; when the prominent sons of Ibusa come together to discuss about progress they always quarrel and when they quarrel they disperse and nothing happens. The Ibusa man never recognises others except themselves, but there is a recognition of the need to be more selfless .If I want to use a critical language, I will say the Ibusas were once upon a time suffering from egocentric malady. And because of this, they build into their psyche introspective hostility"

The state of social amenities in the community is unbecoming for a community that boasts so many prosperous personalities, but a top Ibusa civil servant who would rather not be named believes government must do more for the community, lamenting that government presence is patchy and non-existent.

By Okungbowa Aiwerie, Asaba 


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