It was early 1970 and one of Africa’s foremost businessmen, Olorogun Michael Ibru was in Moscow for meetings with his Russian partners about their mutual interests. One day word came to him that the head of state of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon was on his way to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) for a ‘thank you’ visit to the authorities there for their help and support in ending the Nigerian Civil War. The Soviet Union had supplied Nigeria with Migs and other weapons, which Nigeria paid for with groundnuts.
Olorogun Ibru processed news of General Gowon’s visit and considered how important it was for him to attend the state banquet and other meetings that were planned for the head of state. He knew his brand perception among his Russian partners would be greatly enhanced if one of Nigeria’s notable businessmen were part of General Gowon’s itinerary during the state visit. The only problem was he did not have an official invitation to any of the events. He put a call through to his younger brother, Felix and discussed the matter with him. Felix promised to speak with someone about the matter. After the call, Felix drove to one of his friends at Sam Shonibare Estate in Maryland, Lagos and shared Olorogun’s big concerns. Thankfully, the gentleman had a relation who worked in the office of the head of state. He called his relation and explained the situation to him, requesting for his help. His relation immediately sent a telegram to the Nigerian embassy in Moscow to issue Olorogun all the invitation cards to all the meetings which General Gowon would be attending.
Felix grabbed his friend when he received the good news: “What should I do for you?” He asked his friend but he told him not to bother.
When Olorogun returned from Russia, he went straight to this friend of Felix to express his appreciation, incidentally, he was someone Olorogun had met previously in the company of his younger brother. From that time until 1979, Olorogun sent a huge Christmas hamper to this gentleman to express his deep appreciation.