Who Is Mr Ibu? A Look at John Okafor’s Biography and Net Worth

Mr. Ibu may only be a role played by John Okafor in a 2004 movie of the same title, but it has now become a popular moniker for the actor who has sustained in Nollywood for many decades. Thanks to his longevity in the Nigerian film industry, Okafor has a net worth that is estimated at an incredible $4 million. He came about his fortune from his career as an actor and also from endorsement deals and other things he has been involved in through the years.

The actor has become more popular for the role of Mr. Ibu that most times, fans tend to mix his personal life and his career. He is one of the most known faces in Nigerian showbiz with many films to his name, most of which have earned him a place among the richest and most talented actors in the industry.

Mr. Ibu’s Profile

  • Real Name: John Ikechukwu Okafor
  • Date of Birth: October 17, 1960
  • Place of Birth: Nnkanu West, Enugu State
  • Age: 62 years old
  • Career: Actor and Comedian
  • Wife: Stella Maris Okafor (m. 2015)
  • Children: 5 Kids including Emmanuel Mandela Okafor, Chelsea Okafor, Jay Jay Okafor
  • Net Worth: $4 million
  • Best Known Work: Mr. Ibu (2004)

Mr Ibu is Currently 62 Years Old

Currently 62 years old, Mr Ibu was born John Ikechukwu Okafor on October 17, 1960. While celebrating his 61st birthday in 2021, the actor made a video which he shared on social media, stating his intention to live to be 100. This is in spite of the fact that he made a revelation in a previous interview that he had been poisoned twice in the past by people who worked with him. He said that they were paid huge money by people envious of his achievements.

John indicated that his mother died at the age of 91 and he wants to live longer than her. More than just living to be 100, the actor who first stepped his foot in the film industry by chance at the age of 18 also wants to leave an indelible mark in Nigeria where he was to leave history. He has earned a place among the veterans in the industry.

Mr Ibu
John Okafor (Image Source)

John Okafor Was Raised In Different Parts Of Nigeria

The man we know as Mr. Ibu today was birthed in Enugu State, Nigeria less than three weeks after the country got its independence. He was born into a very large family of 8 kids. John Okafor lost his father at an early age and this made life very difficult for himself and his siblings who fed from hand to mouth.

Of Igbo descent, he is a native of Nkanu West local government area of Enugu. It was here that he spent his earliest life. He remained in his place of birth until the age of 14 when he was forced to move to Sapele in Delta State in 1974 following the sad loss of his father. He stayed in Sapele with his older brother.

From there, John moved to Adamawa State which at the time it was still known as Gongola State. There, he got admitted into the College of Education, Yola. He was not there for a very long time as he was later forced to leave the institution as a result of financial challenges. He went back to Enugu before going back to Delta State again, and then Lagos where he got the chance to pursue his career and establish himself as an actor.

Before the fame, he faced many difficulties in his younger years, including homelessness in Lagos in the latter part of the 1990s. It was at this point in his life that he contemplated suicide after a friend threw him out of the house and he had nowhere to go.

The Actor Sponsored Himself Through School

Even though he is at his best when depicting uneducated and almost always foolish characters in his films, Okafor is far from being uneducated and foolish. The actor started his education in a local nursery school in his village of Umunneukwu, Eziokwe. After his nursery education, he went on to continue with his elementary education there, but as stated, he later had to move to Sapele to join his brother and continue with his education at a technical secondary school.

There, he realized that his brother was not doing well financially and if he was to continue with his education, he would have to find a way of paying his fees all by himself. He took some odd jobs, including working as a hairstylist in a salon for that purpose and also to assist his family that was struggling and in deep financial difficulties. Mr Ibu revealed that at the time, there were some female customers who would have no other stylist touch their heads except him. He would also later become a photographer before he became rich and famous.

The comic actor was unable to keep up with the financial demands when he moved to the College of Education in Yola and so he decided to call it quits. That did not mark the end of his educational journey because of the strong yearning he had for getting a good education.  Hence, as soon as he started getting back on his feet financially, he enrolled at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu State. Even while he was there, he still had to work in a crating company to keep himself in school. Also, he took a job as a refrigerator repairer.

Mr Ibu was forced to finally quit school because it became very hard for him to keep himself in school and at the same help his other siblings whom he was supporting while still trying to get educated. Even though the actor was not fortunate to acquire education to the tertiary level, here is a list of all the institutions he attended.

  • Nursery and primary school in Nkanu West, Enugu State
  • Technical secondary school, Sapele, Delta State
  • College of Education Yola, then Gongola State
  • Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu State

He Tried Many Jobs Before He Became An Actor

Mr Ibu
Mr Ibu and Osita Iheme (Image Source)

John Okafor was always a funny man. He revealed that it was something he inherited from his grandfather who died in 1971. Since his days as a primary school kid, the celebrated actor could get other kids to laugh as easily as it got. Nonetheless, he did not consider becoming a comedian or actor at first. In fact, he got into more jobs than one could count before he became an actor.

Apart from the aforementioned jobs he took as a refrigerator repairer, working in a crating company, and as a hairdresser, he was also into many other things, including firewood selling much earlier in his life. After he left IMT, Mr Ibu went to work for Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). This was not for a long time as he later decided to leave Anambra. He was also a martial artist and was said to have practiced Shotokan Karate for 16 years and then in 1983, he got his black belt.

He moved to Sapele again to work in a slaughterhouse as a butcher all in an effort to make money and make ends meet. From there, his career path led him to a sawmill where he worked for a while before he decided to try his hands on trading after joining forces with some of his friends. This took him to Niger where he bought fairly used shirts and shoes among other things like capsules and injections to sell in Nigeria. This went well for a while but his path soon crossed with the law as he had no pharmaceutical license to buy and sell drugs. After this encounter, he decided that he was no longer interested in the business. Thanks to his experience with ABS, he later started working behind the camera as a production assistant and production manager.

There was a point that the actor was a boxer. He believed at a point, that he found his calling because he was making exploits and recording wins in the ring. However, an incident made him reconsider his choice of career. Recounting what happened, Okafor stated that he went to Delta State for a championship competition. There, he received the beating of his life that left almost cost him his eyes as a result of the punches he received. It became hard for people to recognize him and he made the decision that he was not going back to the ring again, drawing a close to his boxing career.

The Many Jobs Mr Ibu Had Before Becoming An Actor
  • Hairstylist in a women salon
  • Refrigerator repairer
  • Worked in a crating company
  • Worked in a Sawdust mill
  • Worked in a Slaughterhouse
  • Worked with Anambra Broadcasting Service
  • Boxer

The Start Of His Acting Career and the Birth Of Mr Ibu

Even though Living In Bondage, which is unarguably seen as the first seed that was sown on the soil of what has today become Nollywood, John Okafor was in the industry long before that. As indicated, he worked behind the scenes for some time and then appeared in the ABS TV Series Ogbu Anyanwu and Kwere Kira. These became the roles that spurred his interest in becoming an actor.

That said, his acting career started in December 1978 but nothing came out of it until towards the latter part of the 1990s which was why he continued to change jobs. The multi-award-winning actor was initially interested in soap operas. However, in 1978, he got to make a cameo appearance in the TV series Hotel De Jordan by accident. The actor was walking by a set when he was called by the crew to take part in the film. Although he was only on for a few seconds, he considered it a massive achievement and his debut as an actor.

What became his break as an actor came in 1997 when he got the call to play an imbecile in Alex Ezeamakwu’s film, Agony. A second part of the film was in the pipeline until the tragic assassination of Ezeamaku which made it impossible to shoot the film again. Before this time, he was not very much into comedy because the comedy aspect of the film industry did not evolve from the clownish portrayal of characters until 1996 when veteran comedy actor Nkem Owoh came to the scene with Ikuku. Hence, Nkem Owoh, Zebrudaya, Sam Loco Efe, and John Okafor are considered to be the pioneers of today’s comedy in the country’s film industry.

The journey of Okafor to becoming a household name in what is today referred to as Nollywood was literally not a walk in the park. He revealed that just to take part in auditions and rehearsals, he trekked very long distances daily, walking from Ajao Estate to Festac Town in Lagos State. This later paid off when he got what he considers to be his first film in Nollywood, Rolling Stone which was shot in Anambra State.

In 2004, John Okafor appeared in the career-changing film, Mr Ibu. Interestingly, contrary to the belief of many that the film was what earned him the moniker, the story is even much deeper. The name Ibu was a nickname that he inherited from his grandfather whom he revealed was the one who was first called Ibu. Not only was his grandfather funny, but he was also a great actor, all attributes that were inherited by Okafor. He stated that when they started work on the film, it was first titled, John Ibu Okafor. They later decided to name the film Mr John Ibu and then John Okafor before finally coming down to Mr Ibu which stuck. When the film was released, it became an instant hit and the name remained with the actor to date. The work was written by Andy Chukwu who also directed it and had Osita Iheme and Stephen Ahanaonu among the cast members.

John has since established himself as one of the biggest comics in the country so much that simple gestures as greeting from him, a simple wave, or even his anger, seem to get people laughing. His earliest influences in the business were award-winning actor Nkem Owoh and a lady whose name is Chinelo Ndigwe. Mr Ibu revealed that not much is known about the lady because she got married and left the showbiz many years ago before she made a break into fame.

Mr Ibu Has Appeared In Over 200 Movies

John Okafor came a long way from the time he started acting to the time he became famous. Today, he has had roles in more than 200 films to his name after more than four decades in the Nigerian movie scenes. Even though it is easy for many to only associate him with the comic roles he usually takes, he has also taken many others that were serious.

Agony was the film that opened the doors for him but what still remains his biggest work to date is Mr Ibu even though the film is now close to 2 decades old. Other films that helped his popularity in the early years include Uncle Wayward and Vuga. He is still very much involved in Nollywood but his most active years thus far, are from 2003 to 2010 which were the years that he appeared in the bulk of his films.

Here is a list of some of the most popular works of John Okafor:

  • The Eve (2018)
  • Honeymoon Guys (2015)
  • Open & Close (2011)
  • Secret Past (2011)
  • Most Wanted Kidnappers (2010)
  • Yahoozee Prophets (2009)
  • Mental Case (2008)
  • The Tusk of Life (2008)
  • Bafana Bafana (2007)
  • Basket Mouth (2007)
  • Desperate Search (2007)
  • How Far? (2007)
  • Keziah (2007)
  • Toronto Connection (2007)
  • A Fool at 40 (2006)
  • Brain Wash (2006)
  • Captain (2006)
  • Chelsea/Liverpool (2006)
  • Dear Mama (2006)
  • Final Surrender (2006)
  • Four Forty (2006)
  • Men on the Run (2006)
  • Recharge Card (2006)
  • Store Keeper (2006)
  • Sweet Mama (2006)
  • The Journalist (2006)
  • The Return of Mama-G (2006)
  • 9 Wives (2005)
  • Circle of Lives (2005)
  • Common Sense (2005)
  • Joshua (2005)
  • The Councillor (2005)
  • Mr Ibu (2004)
  • Mr Ibu 2 (2004)
  • Mr Ibu in London (2004)
  • Unbreakable (2004)
  • Pain (2003)
  • Ngozi: Abeg Marry Us (2003)
  • Nicodemus (2003)
  • Police Recruit (2003)
  • Vuga (2000)

He Has Won A Few Awards

Needless to say, Mr Ibu has carved a niche for himself in Nollywood as one of the most talented comedy actors. Beyond just remaining relevant for a very long time, he has also clinched numerous awards as a testament to his hard work and talent and has been nominated for many more. Here are some of the accolades he has received in the past from various bodies.

  • Nigerian Entertainment Awards – Best Comic Actor (2005)
  • Africa Movie Academy Awards – Best Actor In Leading Role (2008)
  • AMVCA – Best Actor in Comedy (2010)
  • Africa Movie Academy Awards – Best Comic Actor In Nigeria (2011)
  • Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) (2011)
  • Best Movie Actor of the Year, Peace Ambassadors of Nigeria, 2014
  • Enugu State Government – Best Comedian Award (2015)
  • Awards of Excellence, Magic Lens Africa Film Academy, 2016

How Mr. Ibu Built His Net Worth Of $4 Million

Coming from a very humble background, the actor is now living his dream thanks to his aforementioned net worth of more than $4 million, which has made him one of the richest actors in Nigeria. He built his wealth from his combined efforts in the entertainment industry, from the various businesses he owns and operates, as well as the numerous endorsement deals he has.

In the entertainment circles, he is better known as an actor but more than that, he is also a writer and producer. He has had roles in more films than many other actors and is now one of the highest-paid actors in Nollywood as far as comedy is concerned. For someone who once received as little as 5,000 Naira for a role, he now takes home millions of Naira for appearing in films.

Business is also another major area from where he makes his money. Mr Ibu who always describes himself as an idiot and someone without sense, made it known that he is into different businesses, but he has still managed to keep all his businesses away from the public domain.

More so, John Okafor has also enjoyed some deals with numerous top brands in Nigeria. He signed a multimillion deal with MerryBet Gold Limited in 2014. At the time, it was reported that the sports betting website splashed 100 million Naira in a promotional campaign that the actor was a part of. In the same year, he signed yet another lucrative contract with GOtv. Although the exact value of the deal was not revealed, it was said to run into the millions. The satellite TV named the comic actor its ambassador and for many years later, he still continued to be a part of the brand. Yet another brand that he signed the dotted lines with is telecommunications giant, Glo. In 2016, the actor had an endorsement deal with Kingdom Lottery which unveiled him to drive the company’s Scratch and Win Lottery.

List of some known endorsement deals of John Okafor:

  • Glo
  • MerryBet Gold Limited
  • GOtv (multichoice)
  • Kingdom Lottery

How Mr. Ibu Spends His Fortune

There is no denying the fact that Mr Ibu has worked very hard through the years for his wealth. Hence, it is not out of place that he finds many interesting ways to enjoy his money. The actor spends on holidays with his wife and kids, with whom he has visited different countries, including South Africa where one of his kids was born.

He has bought himself houses in different parts of the country including Lagos and Enugu. He has a property in the Lekki axis of Lagos State which was robbed in 2018. During the unfortunate incident which lasted from 3 am until 4:25 am, the armed men were said to have made away with cash and property worth N14.3 million. Mr Ibu was reportedly in Enugu State when his house was invaded. Fortunately, some of the robbers were later arrested following investigations by the Lagos State Police Command with the help of the CCTV installed in the actor’s house. The men were transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery, SARS where further investigations were carried out.

Mr Ibu also spends big money on luxurious cars. He bought his first car in 1998, less than 7 months after he was thrown out by a friend from his house. Since then, he has acquired many more cars. A man of high automobile taste, he drives high brand wheels. In his garage are cars like the BMW X6 which has a TwinPower Turbo engine, a Mercedes-Benz C Class 2015 which is kitted with a 2.0-liter I-4 cylinder engine, and a Lexus LX 570. He also has a Mercedes-Benz GLE in his collection.

Here is a summary of his known cars and the value of each:

  • BMW X6 – Between N15 to N28 million
  • Mercedes-Benz C Class 2015 – Between N10 to N14nmillion
  • Lexus LX 570 – Between N20 to N31.2 million
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE – Between N12 to N18.4 million

There Are Other Aspects of His Life That Were Not So Successful

Mr Ibu has recorded so much success in his financial life and career even though they both did not start very well. One aspect of his life, however, where things were extremely difficult for him at first was in his love life. The comic star made it known that before now, he was not the luckiest guy when it comes to the department of love and relationships as his heart was broken many times. It used to be difficult for him to find a woman and each time he found any, they would later leave him.

Things seemed to change for him when he finally found a woman who stayed with him and later agreed to marry him. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last long as after having a child for him, the union came to an end in divorce. He found love for the second time and just as the first, it also led to marriage but this was also short-lived after his second wife had a child for him. He said after his two wives left him, he wondered why they did that and they informed him it was because he had no money. This revelation motivated him to work hard and be able to provide for his family.

The first two wives of the actor were gotten for him by his family which decided to pick women from the village for him. After the outcome of the unions, he told his mother and brother to allow him to pick his next wife by himself. For many years after that, he remained single without dating anyone.

In these years, he was trying to make money, on one hand, and trying to get a woman with an African upbringing and transparency. Physically, he was looking for a tall and slim woman, features that he found in Stella Maris Okafor, the woman he got married to in 2015 after dating for many years. Stella is an actress and a former model from Mbaise, Imo State. The actor is now blessed with five kids in all, and a grandchild from his first child who got married years ago.

Okafor once revealed in an interview that his ex-wife once kidnapped his son. He was forced to pay ransom before the boy was returned to him. Sadly, the kid whose name was Emmanuel Okafor later died of food sickness in 2012.

He Has Found Himself In a Number of Controversies

Mr Ibu, like many other celebrities, has got his name enmeshed in a number of controversies in the past. Even at that, the controversies did not seem to affect him in any serious way. Here is a look at some of the controversies that he was enmeshed in:

He Got Involved In A Sex Scandal

One of the most recent issues that he was involved in was an alleged one-night stand with a lady who claimed on social media that the actor slept with her. The lady who was identified as Igwe Gloria narrated her beautiful experience with the actor.

While commenting on the actor’s big tummy, she stated that she had no problem with it as far as she was going to get the payment she deserved. She stated that he was calm, sweet, and lovely, and like other celebrities, he did not rush while making love. She felt at the top of the world while it lasted.

Reacting to the claims, Mr Ibu insisted there was no truth to what the woman was saying. Contrary to her allegations, he made it known that the woman approached him as a normal fan and asked to take a picture. He obliged and that was how he allegedly got drawn into the case. He added that she came to see her boyfriend who was working as an uber driver. To add a twist to the story, he later found out that she was, in fact, married to someone else even though she was dating someone else. When he called her to ask about the damaging post, he alleged that she swore to him that she did not make the post. It was, according to her, someone mischievous that hacked into her account and made the claim.

Maintaining his innocence, the actor stated that it was nothing short of the handiwork of enemies that he did not know. Fortunately, his wife seemed to believe his side of the story as the allegation did not publicly affect his marriage. More than a couple of years later, his marriage is still going strong in spite of the one-night claims.

His Political Positions

Ahead of the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, Mr Ibu and some popular stars in Nollywood stirred the anger of many Nigerians when a video made the rounds where they were seen endorsing the national leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) for the number one seat in the country. Many are of the opinion that Tinubu would not make a good leader for the country believed to have already been battered by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

It did not take the actor too long before he decided to make a U-Turn and declare support for the country’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, because he has been like a father to him and also helped him to get a house. This did not go down with many others again, who faulted his choice on the grounds that the presidency was supposed to move to the south since the current president is from the North.

Mr Ibu Made A Money-For-Role Allegation In Nollywood

The highly talented comic actor attracted rather controversial attention to the Nigerian film industry when he made the claim that young people who are now trying to make an entry into the show business are now paying to get roles. The well-known allegation before his revelation was that roles were gotten in exchange for sex in Nollywood, but never was it alleged that young people pay to get roles.

A member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria Board of Trustees, Ibu took it upon himself to advice upcoming actors on the need to take it easy and calm down and when auditions don’t favor them, they should simply go home and try again another time.

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