GERALD AZONOBO: THE PARTY EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT BY KEEM ABDUL 

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Nightlife in Lagos is on a different level and some people know how to take it to greater levels. Gerald Azonobo was one of such people. He was the life of the party and there was no exclusive nightclub that didn’t know him or feel his presence. His fashion style was second to none and he was always seen in exclusive places.

Dagogo or “King of Groove”, as he was popularly called ruled the social scene with his high fashion sense, posh and expensive cars, custom designer clothes, designer wristwatches, and unlimited VIP access to the top-rated clubs in Lagos. He was indeed the man many wanted to associate with, the rave in party, and the ultimate lavish spender. He left tongues wagging with his unending show of style, class, affluence, and his frequent headliner for the most sought-after gist tabloids. Until one day; he stepped back from the spotlight without leaving a trace of a comeback. Night clubs and A-List spots felt his absence as many of them incurred losses. As usual, the rumour mills spun stories of him going bankrupt and his business going bust with many speculations that he was involved in illegal dealings. When news of his ownership of the Fitzgerald Group; an oil company, and Meekly Properties came to light, it was clear that the businessman had merely decided to take a break from the fast life. It must have dawned on him in an epiphany of some sort that he had a greater purpose in life. He got his groove back but in a different way.

Gerald Azonobo decided to channel his energy and resources into serving humanity. He founded the Keep up the Hope (KUTH) foundation in November 2011. The foundation serves to provide financial support to widows, hospitalized indigents, and deserving students. Gerald is a man who strongly believes in providing quality education and he has been able to achieve this with KUTH. Every year since 2019, the “KUTH Back to School” project offers 25 deserving, indigent students of the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area free General Certificate of Examination (GCE) forms. Students with outstanding results are offered full scholarships to study their desired course in a federal university. According to an independent study by the foundation, 80% of teenagers who are addicted to drugs and engage in prostitution and cultism are secondary school leavers who failed WAEC at their first sitting and couldn’t afford to re-enrol them.

KUTH foundation also offers help to prison inmates and organizes annual football competitions as a way to encourage the development of grassroots sports in Nigeria. The winner of the competition gets 2 million Naira while the first-runner up and the second-runner up gets 1 million Naira and 500,000 Naira respectively. Gerald Azonobo is also the chairman of the Festac Grammar School Class of ’98 Alumni Association (FGSCAA). In December 2020, the association hosted her ‘2020 homecoming party. The event was a week-long programme and was kicked off with a visit to the Life Changer Less Privileged Home in Festac Town. They donated essential items and foodstuff to the orphanage. Besides this, they have been supporting their alma mater since the inauguration of the association in 2016.

Apart from being a businessman, top real estate player, and philanthropist; he was also a good son to his mother. You can imagine how devastated he must have felt when he lost his mother, Mrs. Christiana Azonobo Italume, this year in August. He has always been one to sing praises of his mother wherever he went. They shared a great bond and he was indebted to her for all that she did to ensure that he was successful. Growing up, Gerald Azonobo lived in an unstable environment and they moved around a lot. He has often said that it was the desire to build and own something, and the desire for stability that drove him to become who he is today; with his mother’s unending support and sacrifices.

Just a week ago, he laid his mother to rest. The day was quite a heart-breaking moment for him as he had to put on a brave face for his family and attend to his guests. The mood didn’t stop him from marking her death in grand style. You can trust, the “King of Groove” gave his dear mother a most befitting burial. The party was one fit for kings, queens, and elites. It wasn’t far from what anyone close to him would expect.

Sources close to the event gathered that the noteworthy occasion commenced with a service of songs and wake at His Grace Events Centre, Lekki, Lagos, followed by the interment at James George Street, off Alagbon Close, Ikoyi Lagos. The day had guests treated to a list of savoury meals and melodious music at the aesthetically pleasing event centre The Monarch, Ikate, Elegushi.

He spared no expense in making sure he would have a party that will keep people talking long after it. We hope that his heart heals soon and that his mother is resting peacefully, at the Lord’s bosom.

Gerald Azonobo, being the force that he is, wouldn’t be easily forgotten for his giving and caring ways. He has in many ways left a mark of excellence in society and has proven that a socialite can be as relevant as a politician. He has indeed evolved from the ‘king of groove’ to a philanthropist and has found a greater purpose to live for.

I pray that he continues to excel in his pursuit of an uninterrupted and impactful humanitarian campaign.

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Keem Abdul

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