Garlands to Aliko Dangote @ 67

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THOMAS IMONIKHE

Many will acknowledge the profound contributions of Africa’s richest man and Nigerian leading industrialist, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who clocks 67 today (April 10), to the social and economic development of the country even as she grapples with several existential challenges.

The billionaire, apart from making history as the nation’s biggest local investor, a fact that is easily established through his multiple investments across the food chain, cement and lately fertilizers as well as petroleum sector, also prides himself as the largest employer of labour after the federal government.

Simply put, Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges could have been worse today but for the patriotic intervention of Dangote and his peers in the manufacturing sector, who rather than move their riches to safe tax havens across the globe, decided to invest in their fatherland to generate employment for citizens to eke out a living and contribute their quota to nation building through industrial ventures to boost productivity and make life more meaningful for citizens.

In other words, Aliko’s passionate disposition to forge ahead with industrialization in areas where others dread, despite the harsh operating environment and intimidating odds, stands him out of the elite club of the wealthy, who will prefer to acquire shares of blue chips companies and sit back for annual robust dividends.

A man of many firsts and one who hasn’t held any public office, Dangote’s unassailable strides in the economy through his conglomerate makes him a household name nationwide such that most citizens have no choice but patronize his products almost on a daily basis.

An astute businessman, the billionaire’s birthday which coincides with this year’s Eid-el-Fitri, comes on the heels of commencement of sale of petroleum products to the local market by the multi billion dollars Dangote Refinery, a development that had forced a drop in the prices of the items especially diesel and brought relief to some manufacturers.

According to an elated Devakumar Edwin, Executive Director of the Dangote Group: “We have substantial quantities. Products are being evacuated both by sea and roads. Ships are lining up one after another to load diesel and aviation fuel jet fuel. Ship loads a minimum of 26 million litres, though we try to push for 37 million litres vessels, for ease of operations.”

So, the Africa’s richest man has cause to be joyful today more than ever before following the coming on stream of the gigantic Dangote Refinery after several years of construction and daunting challenges including funding hiccups and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic which delayed its completion on schedule.

It is heartwarming that petroleum product marketers are already proposing a new petrol price N550 per litre of petrol to the refinery management, as against over N600 for the same quantity of fuel across the country which speaks volume on the anticipated salutary effects of the project on Nigeria’s economy in months and years to come.

Though not a politician, the Kano-born business mogul appears to have learnt great lessons where many great men before him had faltered. Consequently such primordial sentiments of ethnicity and state of origin have no place in determining the location of his trillion naira investments across Africa and Nigeria, which perhaps explains why the Dangote Refinery and Dangote Fertilizer are located in Lagos, the nation’s commercial and financial hub and not Kano his home state and commercial capital of northern Nigeria.

Also, the philanthropist par excellence had recently put smiles in the faces of many hungry citizens when he led officials of Aliko Dangote Foundation, ADF to splash food items to beneficiaries across the 36 states thus bringing succor to the hungry, who due to no fault of theirs are finding it very difficult to feed owing to the high cost of foodstuffs.

The President of Dangote Group who, personally launched the food intervention programme in Kano revealed that it would cost the ADF a whopping N15 billion, beginning with the distribution of over one million bags of 10kg bags across the 774 local government areas of the 36 states and FCT, adding that the initiative represents a crucial step towards alleviating the ongoing economic challenges faced by many citizens.

Emphasising the importance of compassion and generosity during the holy month of Ramadan, he explained that “Our distribution of rice symbolises our commitment to upholding the values of compassion and solidarity, which are at the core of our humanity,” even as ADF will spearhead the food intervention programme which will run from March to early April 2024.

The scheme which entails the distribution of over 1 million 10kg rice across the country,  involves collaboration with state and local governments and local community partners to ensure effective delivery of the rice to the most vulnerable, regardless of state, tribe, gender, religion, politics, or other attributes, unlike what played out during  the distribution of government palliatives which were given mostly to party members and their cronies.

A fan of great scientist Albert Einstein whose several quotes include that, “The value of a man resides in what he gives”, Aliko through his foundation had positively impacted thousands of lives of less privileged members of society through its corporate social responsibility interventions especially across host communities where the Dangote Group of companies operate.

Similarly, he finds merit in the admonition by Richard Cornuelle that the foundation of any progressive society “is an instrument forged by citizens who transfer profit from the commercial sector and put it directly to work as risk capital for the general betterment of society”, which explains his business philosophy to continually invest in various sectors even when sometimes the operating environment isn’t conducive.

Born into a wealthy Hausa Muslim family on 10 April 1957 in Kano, his mother, Mariya Sanusi Dantata, was the daughter of business mogul Sanusi Dantata while his father, Mohammed Dangote, was a business associate of Dantata. Maternally, he is the great-grandson of Alhassan Dantata, who was the richest person in West Africa at the time of his death in 1955.

Aliko attended the Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrasa, Capital High School also in Kano before completing his secondary education at the Government College, Birnin Kudu. His thirst  for more knowledge took him to Al-Azhar University in Cairo where he bagged a bachelor’s degree in business studies and administration.

The president Dangote Group, the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa, retained the top spot in Forbes ranking with a net worth of USD 13.9billion and the only Nigerian in the top 200 world billionaires as at January this year.

For his amazing contributions to national development,  Dangote was awarded Nigeria’s second-highest honor, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan amongst many other laurels while he remains a source of inspiration and a role model to many across Africa. Happy birthday to a patriot and eminent pan Africanist.

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