Cletus M. Ibeto – Top 10 Igbo Business Moguls Shaping Nigeria’s Economy

Cletus M. Ibeto, chairman/CEO Ibeto Group of Companies is a major player in Nigeria’s business space. He has played a leading role towards realising the national aspiration of moving the economy ahead from import dependent businesses to manufacturing for domestic and export markets.

Ibeto made a U-turn from importation to manufacturing and has been moving in this desired direction for about five decades now. His great accomplishments in industrial enterprises represent a typical example of a big dream started small.

The towering heights he has attained in manufacturing the latest types of auto battery, parts and accessories; his roaring industrial engines in cement production, aluminum smelting and petrochemicals – all began by a wild dream of an apprentice in an auto spare parts shop in Nnewi.

Spare parts trading business follows a usual trend, which is to set up as a trader after the period of apprenticeship and at most become an importer of the products. Ibeto deviated from the usual trend and broke free from auto parts trading and importation into manufacturing of the products he used to import.

His spirit of entrepreneurship was driven by the vision to do what the exporting companies overseas were doing. His desire found an expression in 1988 when his first industrial plant fired off, signaling the kickoff of industrial development in Nnewi. In that year, Union Autoparts Manufacturing Company Ltd, a member of Ibeto Group, began manufacturing of lead acid automotive battery, accessories and lead recycling in Nigeria.

The company presently manufactures first class, high quality, dry charged motor and motor cycle batteries of all capacities, auto parts and accessories, including auto lamps, front and rear light covers, front grills, fan blades, wheel covers, brake pads and linings. It also manufactures clutch facings and fibres, brake shoe kits, reflectors, PVC conduit fittings and other products. It is reckoned to be the first company in Nigeria to employ the latest technology to manufacture maintenance free, dry cell batteries.

The company has capacity to produce 300,000 units of lead/acid batteries and 120,000 units of sealed, maintenance free batteries per annum. It also produces 5,500 tonnes of lead, 500 tonnes of accessories and 1,500 tonnes of friction parts. All the lead and aluminum materials required for the products are produced from a lead and aluminum smelting plant. The company has been exporting pure lead antimonial lead ingots since 1991.

The group has a subsidiary in petrochemicals – Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd, which is engaged in blending oil lubricants and other petroleum products sold in domestic and international markets. The blending plant, also operating from Nnewi, has a modern quality control laboratory that permits benchmarking of products to international standard.

The company’s blended lube products have been in the West, East and Central African markets since 1999. The company also procures and trades in a range of petroleum products like base oil and automotive gas oil. It has also been exporting crude oil since 2012.

Ibeto began a large cement bagging operation in Port Harcourt in its ultra-modern bagging terminal in 2005. From cement bagging, the company has since shifted to local production of cement, having acquired a five million-tonne per annum cement manufacturing plant in Effium, Ebonyi State. Ibeto Group also acquired 60 percent of Nigeria Cement Company Plc, Nkalagu following which it has constructed a brand new dry process plant and resuscitated the old production line.

He also has an energy development company – Ibeto Energy Development Ltd engaged in natural gas development operations in the Niger Delta. He has a gas processing plant in Port Harcourt, which is his response to government’s objective of developing natural gas gathering facilities in the region for power generation and for export.

Ibeto Group also includes Kings Palace Hotel, which is positioned to serve the burgeoning industrial town of Nnewi. It also includes a real estate firm – Odoh Holdings Ltd – which owns prime properties in major cities of the country. IBG Investment Company Ltd is also a member of Ibeto Group – which undertakes investments in the real sector, bulk importation and marketing of commodities.