Alhaji Chief Abdulazeez Chibuzọ Ude! Old money! Lovers of Igbo highlife music particularly followers of Chief Oliver De Coque like must have heard the highlife music maestro eulogizing Chief Ude in some of his tracks particularly “Biri Ka Mbiri.”
A renowned philanthropist, Ebube Ndi Muslim of Igbo Land, Boroji of Lagos, Bowashuwa of Ikorodu.
From Abor, Udi LGA, Enugu State, he was a multi billionaire businessman. One of those we can refer to as old money having made his wealth when billionaires of today had perhaps not even dreamt that they’ll make it and some of them perhaps were still toddlers.
He was renowned for hosting lofty end-of-year parties in his Mekuwen home, off Queens Drive, Ikoyi and in his Abor, Udi residence. His office on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi always teemed with all kinds of people asking for assistance to revive their failed businesses, scale up their businesses, pay school fees, sort out accommodation challenges and pay rents.
His funds were always available for intellectual concerns. He was the financial chest behind the classy Chic Magazine published by Eddie Iroh out of London, England. He was a director of Newswatch magazine and many other publications besides.
Born 30 September 1940, Chief Abdulazeez Ude is a distinguished alumnus of the esteemed College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu. A man of impeccable bonafides, he was educated at Oxford in England and Columbia in the United States. He was a top editor with the renowned American book publishing company Doubleday, publishers of Anchor Books. He rubbed shoulders with Toni Morrison as book editor before she branched out to write novels such as Song of Solomon, Beloved etc and winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Abdulazeez Ude founded Nok Publishers in the United States and Nigeria, undertaking to see radical books from Africa and the Global South in print. The West and the Rest of Us by Chinweizu is a landmark title. Married with children, Abdulazeez Ude in his lifetime enjoyed tennis, meditation, reading and walking.
His support for popular culture is remarkable, and the celebrated highlife musician Oliver de Coque waxed lyrical in song in praise of the many achievements of Abdulazeez Ude, translated from Igbo thus: “When the big masquerade appears in the square, the non-initiates run away as the praise-singer lauds the radiance of the king. Alhaji Abdulazeez Chibuzo Ude is a mighty masquerade.”
As the brain behind companies like Tanhigh Holdings Ltd, Tanhigh Finance Ltd, 150 Estates Nigeria Ltd, Trans-Sahel Airlines Ltd etc, Alhaji Ude led from the frontline. He played a founding role in the African Business Roundtable and the African Development Bank. Always understated in his undertakings, preferring to operate from the background, it always needs painstaking inquiry to learn that he’s the brain and the war chest behind many ventures that do not bear his name in any way. His association with excellence is nonpareil.
Sadly, the colossus has passed on and was buried yesterday, 17th September 2021, at his home town Abor, Udi LGA, Enugu State. He would have clocked 81 in less than two weeks from now.
May his soul rest in peace.