Cletus Mmadubugwu Ibeto was born on November 6th, 1952 in Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria. From an ordinary apprentice in a motor spare parts shop, Ibeto who is now chairman of the Ibeto Group rose to become one of the richest billionaires in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Cletus Ibeto Early Life
Like every other child whose parents knew the value of education, Cletus was enrolled in a school just like his like two elder brothers Cyril and Louis Ibeto. The young Cletus loved being educated and had dreams of finishing his education at the university level. Unknowingly to him, life was about to cut this dream short. At the age of 13, on January 22nd, 1966, the young Ibeto now in secondary school prepared himself for school as usual. He took his school box and already packed provisions and was set to leave for school when he was informed of a change of plans. His father has decided to send him to one John Akamelu, a trader in Onitsha. He was to learn the trade from him while his two brothers, Cyril and Louis continued their education.
After his begging and pleadings to be allowed to continue his education proved futile, Cletus Ibeto obeyed his father and left to Onitsha in his school uniform. As at this time in Nigeria, formal education was still considered “a thing for the weaklings” among illiterates and a thing for only “male” members of the family among those who welcome it. Only a few parents allowed their female children to be educated. This his arrival in his school uniform made people who saw him arrive in his uniform cajole and call him names. Such as “schoolboy” and others.
His master too hated his love for school so much and didn’t fail to use the whip on Ibeto whenever he sees it necessary. On one of Ibeto’s arm today, the mark of his master’s whip is still clearly visible. A mark Ibeto carries with pride like a trophy. Cletus stayed and learnt from his master everything he could about trade until the age of 17 when the civil war broke out. The war shortened his apprenticeship as he was forced to join the war.
Cletus Ibeto Career
As at this time, the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari being the government in power then, made a policy. This policy allowed the importation of goods into the country without an import licence. Cletus seized this opportunity to start importing goods into the country. By the time the import licence was reintroduced, he had already saved up to 3 million naira which he used to obtain an import licence.
This import licence enabled him to import 65 containers of motor spare parts. Shortly after this importation, a new government came into power that closed the borders temporarily and made it almost impossible for new import licences to be obtained. This unexpected situation turned out to be all that Ibeto needed to explode in his business. With his containers of spare parts already available in the market before the temporal shut down of borders, Ibeto became the only one who had enough goods at that time to sell.
He had customers from all over the country lining up to buy from him not minding the higher price at which he was selling. In an interview Ibeto said in two days of the arrival of those containers, he made about four million pounds. His business continued to thrive from that point that in the year 1995, Ibeto Group (his business name) built a spare parts manufacturing company and became the largest indigenous manufacturers of the same in Nigeria.
The next year 1996, October 2nd Ibeto set up another manufacturing company at Apapa Wharf and the Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos Nigeria. This company was named Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Limited and manufactures petroleum products for sale both within and outside Nigerian markets. Today, he continues to invest in automotive parts, cement, hospitality, petrochemicals, banking and finance, real estate, and oil and gas.
Cletus Ibeto Personal Life
Having parted ways with his first wife and mother of his three children over irreconcilable differences, the astute businessman decided to take another plunge into the marriage institution. He got married to Augustina Ifeyinwa Okpala in December 2012. The ceremony which had all the trappings of wealth and opulence had in attendance, dignitaries from all walks of life including Nollywood artistes, Ebube Nwagbo, Chinedu Ikedieze, Osita Iheme, Monalisa Chinda among others.
Beyond Spare Parts
Cletus Ibeto moved from an apprentice of auto spare parts to an importer of auto spare parts and automotive lead-acid batteries and plastic accessories. He was in the business of importing these items until 1987. In 1988, when he completed his factory in Nnewi, he stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories. By 1995, the company had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfit in Nigeria.
In 2nd of October 1996, he significantly expanded his business operations by diversifying into other sectors and establishing Ibeto Petrochemicals Industries Limited. His petrochemicals industry owns one of the largest liquid facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria
His businesses cut across real estate, hospitality, cement manufacturing, agriculture and more. He is an astute investor who employs the right strategy for his business growth. He grows some organically from ground up and some inorganically through strategic mergers and acquisitions.
Companies Owned By Cletus Ibeto
1) Union Autoparts manufacturing Co. Ltd
The Company was incorporated on 2nd June 1987 and is a major player in automotive lead-acid battery manufacturing in Nigeria. The interesting thing is that the company produces locally, from its lead and aluminum smelting plant, all the lead and aluminum required for its operations. It has the capacity to produce, annually; 300,000units of lead/acid batteries, 120,000 units of sealed maintenance-free batteries, 5,500tonnes of lead, 500 tonnes of accessories and 1,500 tonnes of friction parts according to ibeto.com.
2) Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd
The company was established in October 2nd 1996 with a blending plant in Nnewi, Anambra State. They blend oil lubricants and produce various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The company also owns one of the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tones located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos.
3) Ibeto Cement Company Ltd
Ibeto Cement Company Ltd produces bagged cements at its bagging terminal at Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The group commenced the business in 1997 with the importation of bagged cement from Portland before establishing Ibeto Cement in 2001. In May 2018, Ibeto Cement Company Limited announced a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a United States (U.S.) publicly-traded petroleum exploration and production company in a move to enter global markets and bypass the complex process of listing. Ibeto acquired a 70% controlling stake of the company and Cletus Ibeto was subsequently made the Chairman of the Board of Directors
4) Eastern Bulkcem Company Ltd
This is a subsidiary of Ibeto Cement Company Limited and is also engaged in the business of importation of bulk cement and bagging of same in its factory premises in Rumuolumeni waterfront, Rivers State. This company also owns 60% of Nigeria Cement Company Plc (NIGERCEM), Nkalagu, Ebonyi State. NIGERCEM was very important for Ibeto; if he was to remain an importer of cement, he needed to own a cement manufacturing plant as it was the requirement. Owning NIGERCEM did not come easy as the then Ebonyi state governor, Martin Elechi was against the acquisition. Ibeto fought him head-on like a wounded lion until he had NIGERCEM secured. NIGERCEM gave him the initial stability he needed to continue in the cement business.
5) Kings’s Palace Hotels Ltd
The hotel was established in March 1985 and has become synonymous with hospitality. Kings’s Palace is located at the heart of Nnewi and has played a significant role in the economic and tourism development in Anambra State.
6) Ibeto Energy Development Ltd
The company was established on 11th April, 2008. It was a smart response to the Federal Government’s aspiration to exploit the available natural gas in the Niger Delta Region for economic development.
7) Palmex Agencies Ltd
Palmex Agencies Limited incorporated on September 1,1998 is engaged in general merchandising. The company imports and distributes commodity items like rice, sugar and fertilizer.
8) Ibeto Industries Ltd
It was incorporated in 1984 to serve the Nigerian public in their quest for colour print and photographic processing. Ibeto industries have modern printing machines that meet the need of customers and they have branches across Nigeria.
9) Odoh Holdings Ltd
This Company was founded in March 1985 and is in the business of real estate development. They own properties in prime areas of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha and Nnewi.
10) Ibeto Hotels Ltd
Ibeto Hotel Abuja is a 100-room four-star property which was commissioned early in 2013 and the company has interest in replicating Ibeto Hotel Abuja in other major cities in Nigeria.
See Also: Biography and business life of Jim Ovia
Philanthropic Gestures of Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto’s humanitarian gesture has lifted thousands of people out of poverty. He has also helped other top business persons from Nnewi including Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman of Innoson Group.
Cletus Ibeto Recognitions and Awards
Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) 2008
Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) 2012
Africa’s 55 wealthiest People by Venture Capital 2014
Forbes’ Most Prominent Naira Billionaire from Nnewi 2017
Cletus Ibeto Awards
- Ibeto is a recipient of the highly acclaimed national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- In 2012 he was also been decorated with the honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
Cletus Ibeto Net Worth
Cletus Ibeto is estimated to have a net worth of about $3.7 billion