Ibeto from a young age has always wanted to be educated but his father would rather he learn a trade under the apprenticeship system, imu-ahia, popular in the Eastern part of the country. At the age of 13, he was made to learn under Akamelu, a car parts dealer in Onitsha.
Ibeto’s journey to wealth
His apprenticeship was hindered by the civil war in the region (Biafra war; 6 Jul 1967 – 15 Jan 1970). He would later return after the war.
Cletus Ibeto started out as a spare parts import dealer, after spending some time as an apprentice in the motor parts business.
To raise capital for his business, one of his elder brothers, Louis, gave him a leather handbag and a round neck suit, which he sold along with a packet of APC tablets he picked up at an evacuated hospital.
With the little money he raised from the sales of these items, Ibeto was able to start and gradually grow his business.
During the government of Shehu Shagari, a policy in the country enabled the importation of goods without an import license. This period helped Ibeto amass a great deal of fortune, which he subsequently put back into his business to grow it sporadically till the import licenses were then reintroduced.
With this new development, he was able to secure an import license worth 3 million Naira, at a time when the value of a dollar was equal to 68 kobo.
With this scarce license, he proceeded to import 65 containers of motor spare parts. His promptness to secure a license greatly favoured him yet again because, shortly after he had secured his, the country made it almost impossible for anyone to secure an import license, and to make matters worse for budding entrepreneurs, the government changed hands and the borders closed, temporarily shutting down all forms of importation.
In 1988, he stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories, after completing his factory in Nnewi. By 1995 The Ibeto Group had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfits in the country.
He recalled; “There was a line of people wanting to get their hands on replacement parts from my businesses. I was using boxes to store money for the bank. Even though the markup was close to 500%, people still bought the goods. The first day after the container arrived, I made four million pounds”.
On October 2, 1996, he established Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd. which is engaged in the blending of oil lubricants as well as the production of various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The Company owns the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tonnes located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos.
Ibeto Cement Company Limited, located in BunduAma, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, began cement bagging operations at its bagging terminal in Port Harcourt in 2005. It is an ultra-modern bagging plant with a flat-storage capacity of 50,000 metric tonnes and a production capacity of 1,500,000 metric tonnes yearly, which translates to a production capacity of 4,000+ metric tonnes per day.
Back to school
Despite his wealth, nothing will stop Cletus Ibeto from his dream of becoming educated. He wrote his West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) when he was 48 years old.
He then proceeded to the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he obtained a degree in Accounting at the age of 58.
Ibeto was later awarded a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Honoris Causa by UNN during the school’s 40th convocation.
On March 14th, 2020, Ebonyi State University conferred on Chief Cletus Ibeto an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration.
Various online reports estimated his net worth to be about $3.8 billion but this cannot be independently ascertained. Likewise, there was no mention of his worth by Forbes but he’s undeniably a billionaire.
The information in this article was curated from online sources. All details cannot be independently verified by NewsWireNGR or its editorial team.