Billionaire businessman and prominent Igbo Muslim Abdulaziz Ude dies at 80

Billionaire businessman Abdulaziz Ude has died at the age of 80.

An indigene of Abor, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, he was a prominent Igbo Muslim.

Ude died in Lagos and was buried on Friday in his hometown in line with Islamic injunction.

Christened Bertrand at an early age, Ude caught public attention while working as an editor at Random House in New York, the world’s biggest book publishing firm. There, he published Chinua Achebe’s classic Things Fall Apart during the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70.

Anambra State Government paid him tributes in a statement on Saturday signed by the commissioner for information and public enlightenment Don Adinuba.

“Unknown to most people because of his self-effacing nature, Chief Ude contributed significantly to the creation of Anambra, Enugu, Delta and Ebonyi states. Apart from being one of the signatories to the petition for the creation of these states to the Ibrahim Babangida military regime, he donated not just cash but also his private jet to transport the Igbo patriots like Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chike Edozie, Dr Akanu Ibiam, Chief CC Onoh and Dr (Chuba) Okadigbo to different cities who signed the petition.

“He also donated part of his building at 59 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, to coordinate the campaign for the creation of Igbo states and paid the staff. The then traditional ruler of Enugwu Ukwu, Igwe Osita Agwuna, one of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists, was to confer a high title on him for services to the Igbo world,” the statement read.

Ude’s friendship with highlife musician Oliver de Coque was such that the entertainer made a hugely successful album dedicated to Ude.

The government noted that even after converting to Islam, a result of his deep friendship with founding president of Guineaz Sekou Toure, Ude remained a big contributor to the welfare of priests and the church in his community.

“The Government and people of Anambra State truly mourn the transition of this great Igboman, pan Africanist, publisher and intellectual. We mourn with the Ude family of Abor and the people and government of Enugu State. May Abdulaziz Ude’s noble soul find rest in paradise,” the statement added.