A renowned lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye has joined many other Nigerians who in one way or the other benefited from the philanthropic gestures of late Chief Alhaji Abdulazeez Chibuzor Ude in paying glowing tribute to the great businessman and industrialist who passed on to eternal glory last week.
Late Chief Alhaji Abdulazeez Chibuzor Ude, an indigene of Abor, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, a devout Muslim died at the age of 80 years and was buried according to Islamic rites in Abor, Udi.
Writing about how Chief Alhaji Abdulazeez Chibuzor Ude sponsored his law programme at Harvard in an emotional filled text, Ugwuonye wrote
I HATE TO SAY GOODBYE TO YOU
I hate to say goodbye to you. But I now realize I have to do so. I have to say goodbye to you Chief Alhaji Abdulazeez Chivuzor Ude, Oduneje Ogu I of Abor, one of the finest men to walk the face of the earth.
For 30 years, you were the father I could see, the sage I could talk to, and the guru I could learn from. On everything deep and serious, I sought your opinion and your advice was gold.
You saw things far and deeper than everyone else. You always had a crucial angle that no-one had considered.
You were so selfless, and so different. You were compassionate to a fault.
The milk of human kindness flowed in torrents in your heart. You never allowed your dispensation of kindness and favor to be perturbed by baseless considerations such as tribe, ethnicity, religion or gender. For you, all were human beings and all deserved your fraternal compassion.
On many occasions, I teased you with the fact that you could not remember or keep count of the people you paid their school fees overseas. On one occasion, you visited the United States and attended a dinner organized by people you sponsored to America.
You whispered to me that you could not remember many of those who introduced themselves as people you sponsored.
You were so eloquent, so articulate, and fluent in languages – Igbo, English, French and Arabic. You were so impeccable and gentle in your manners. You got class and refinement, which I struggled heard to learn.
And you soared above the clouds, yet able to observe and deal effectively with the minutiae of everyday life.
You showed me fatherly love where it mattered the most. I knew I did not always live up to your expectations.
But you were always willing to forgive and give me another chance to get it right. And for those occasions when you told me you were proud of me, I cherish very much, especially now that you are gone.
You were exceptional. Each time I left your company after spending time with you, I felt I left the bulk of wisdom behind, which kept me wanting to come back to you.
Your words and advice on any issue were profoundly inspiring. My regret now is that I had actually treated you in the past few years as if we would live forever.
It did not occur to me that this day would come, when I would not be able to obtain your views on burning issues. I feel totally gutted. I have never felt so lonely. It is like losing my compass while adrift in the middle of a big sea, far away from the shores.
You were the greatest teacher anyone could have. Even in your death, you left me with lasting lessons, among which is the fact that we must treat and deal with our loved ones, knowing that our time with them could be very short. May God bless your soul in Heaven where I am sure you will be.
Goodbye, father! Goodbye Oduneje Ogu. You will be missed forever.
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.
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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.