The Business-savvy Nigerian Billionaire Who Got His Secondary School Certificate at The Age of 48

The Business-savvy Nigerian Billionaire Who Got His Secondary School Certificate at The Age of 48

  • Cletus Ibeto is an astute businessman from Nnewi in Anambra State who wanted to go to school but ended up a spare parts merchant
  • He established the Ibeto Group which manufactures cement, auto parts and other products
  • He owns an energy firm and has entered into a merger agreement with US firm to have his cement company listed in the international markets

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A few names pop up when it comes to cement production in Nigeria. BUA cement, Dangote Cement and of course, Ibeto Cement.

Ibeto Cement is a revered name in the cement industry in Nigeria before the arrival of BUA and Dangote cement companies.

Ibeto, Dangote, Cement, Ibeto Cement
Cletus Ibeto and Aliko Dangote Bloomberg / Contributor
Source: Getty Images

The humble beginning

Owned by Cletus Ibeto, the Ibeto Cement held sway, especially in the southeast before Dangote made entry into the market, crashed the price of cement and subsequently dominated the industry.

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Born on November 6, 1952 and a native of Nnewi in Anambra State, Ibeto craved education to a degree level and wanted to make a career for himself.

Instead, according to a Nairametrics report, his father had another plan for him, to learn a trade. So at the age of 13, the younger Ibeto went to become an apprentice under Akamelu, a spare parts merchant in Onitsha.

He found himself under the tutelage of Akamelu in what has become known as Igbo boi, the Igbo apprenticeship scheme which has been globally acclaimed to have democratised wealth in the southeast and produced many billionaires.

Learning the ropes

After understudying how his boss operated in the system in logistics, warehousing, inventory and all, he abruptly left the apprenticeship when the civil war broke out.

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He would return years after to set up shop and began what was known as the Ibeto Trading Company which imported automobile batteries and plastic motor parts.

He set up his factory in Nnewi and by 1988, he dominated direct import. In 10 years, his company, the Ibeto Group had grown to become one of the largest auto spares manufacturing companies in Africa.

His determination worked when the government of Shehu Shagari introduced a policy which restricted importation without a license.

While others took a break from importation due to the new policy, Ibeto plunged ahead and spent about N3 million to get his import license which enabled him to import as many as 65 containers of spares in one fell swoop.

Other importers met with bureaucratic bottlenecks when they decided to apply for and obtain their import licenses much later.

Stored money in boxes for banks

Ibeto stated that he was using boxes to store money for the banks. Despite increasing the cost of his products to about 500 per cent, people still patronised him, saying he made four million pounds four days after his container arrived.

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This gave him the financial muscle to start setting up his facility in Nnewi.

This also provided him with the funds to start setting up his facility at Nnewi.

In 1996, Ibeto set up Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Limited which produced varied a range of chemical products and oil lubricants for the local and international markets and was considered Nigeria’s largest liquid storage facility for petrochemical products with 60,000 metric tons which are located in Apapa and Inbru Jetty Complex, all in Lagos.

In May 2018, his cement firm, Ibeto Cement announced a reversed merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a US publicly traded petroleum company. The move bypassed the complexities of listing and took the firm into the global markets with Ibeto as Chairman of the new board of directors.

A Petrochemical direction

He established Ibeto Cement in 2005 in Port-Harcourt with a top-notch bagging factory at the terminal, a flat storage capacity of 50,000 metric tons with an annual output of 1.5 million metric tons daily.

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Many interests

In 2008, he established the Ibeto natural gas in the Niger Delta known as Ibeto Energy Development.

A graduate at last

He revisited his academic pursuit and obtained his Secondary School Certificate at the age of 48 and went ahead to study accounting at the University of Nigeria Nsukka at the age of 54.

He is an honourary Doctorate degree holder from the UNN

There is no ranking of the billionaire both in Forbes and Bloomberg billionaire indexes.

Richest Nigerians of the ‘60s, family and source of income reported that before the emergence of Dangote, Africa's richest man, Nigeria has never lacked wealthy men and women.

The epitaph, ‘giant of Africa’ was said to have actually been coined by the number of rich men and women coming out of Nigeria. Nigeria is ranked Africa’s biggest economy with a population of over 200 million and a Gross Domestic Production (GDP) of $432 billion and is a major oil producer in the world.

The country also ranked third in Africa with the highest number of millionaires, only bested by South Africa and Egypt. From Da Rocha, Ojukwu and many others, Nigeria paraded a number of men and women with high net worth and deep pockets.


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