Dangote: Beyond the midas touch
By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA & OBINNA EZUGWU
The amazing story of Aliko Dangote is not that he is rich, in fact richer than many people know. The surprise is how he manages to remain so popular, always smelling roses; loved and admired more than any public figure in Nigeria? And this is in a country of rising anger and intense bitterness against the rich and powerful. Here in lies the Dangote mystique.
Business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has been voted the most popular Nigerian by youths that participated in Business Hallmark’s ‘Most popular Nigerian’ poll. He beat 11 other prominent Nigerians in a survey of more than 1000 voters taken from April 10 to 14. The poll results revealed that over 8 in 10 Nigerians (80 percent) have positive impression of Dangote and are pleased with his accomplishments.
Other most appealing Nigerians in numerical order are Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose (5 percent), former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi (3 percent), All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (3 percent), President Muhammadu Buhari (3 percent), Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II (1.5 percent), and former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo (1.3 percent).
Others include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (1.2 percent), former Cross River Governor, Donald Duke (1 percent), former Jigawa Governor, Sule Lamido (1 percent), Rivers State Governor, NyesomWike (0.6 percent) and former Kano Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso (0.4 percent).
BHPolls conducted the survey to measure Nigerians perception of all nominees, as well as possible recommendation for future public office. The nominees were a mixture of businessmen, politicians, serving and past governors and public officials. The survey was done both online and offline.
Nominees were assessed based on familiarity (awareness of the nominee to the public), as well as their favourability (the overall public perception of the candidate). BH poll result revealed that the reactions about the list vary from people to people and also in accordance with their social-political interest and belief. Respondents who showed awareness of the 12 nominees were further asked what names on the list appealed to them the most. Respondents were allowed to list as many names on the list that appealed to them as possible.
Responses placed Alhaji Aliko Dangote as the nominee most appealing to Nigerians. Dangote had the highest familiarity (+91 percent) as well as net favourability (+80) among all nominees. Virtually all the respondents said they were familiar with the name ‘Dangote’.
According to Oluwafunke Oni, Dangote is the most popular Nigerian today because his products and businesses are everywhere.
“You can’t consume anything in Nigeria today without having at least one Dangote product as an ingredient it. There is Dangote sugar, salt, macaroni, noodles, seasoning, rice, juice, water, just mentions it”, she said.
In his own submission, Sunday Hyginus, said that the name Aliko Dangote is in the mouth of every Nigerian, rich or poor, young or old.
“I think Dangote is most popular. He is known to almost every Nigerian. Majority of Nigerians may not be familiar with others because they are only political names. But Dangote is known worldwide due to his businesses. He is also one the largest employer of labour.
To Chinwe Agbeze, there is no Nigerian today that will claim he hasn’t heard of Dangote or what he represents. “It is obviously Dangote. He has made positive impact in the country and world at large. I have no doubt people would remember him for that.
Another respondent, Olivia Samuel, claimed that he picked Dangote as the most popular Nigerian because he had helped the country in many ways, especially in the area of job creation and youth empowerment.
“He has also portrayed the country’s image in a good light through his companies and several investments which have placed him on a high pedestal among the rich in the world. Dangote is the most popular Nigerian now, it is obvious”, Olivia said.
While most Nigerian youths have positive impression of Dangote, and had voted him as the most popular Nigerian, it seems that the heavens are also pleased with him. His position as a ‘chosen’ was recently supported by a priest and Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, south, Archbishop George Amu, who recently said that God showed him that Alhaji Dangote will one day become the nation’s President.
Amu said just like the emergence of Donald Trump as the President of America shocked the world, so will Dangote’s emergence as Nigeria’s President shock everyone. The cleric, who recalled telling journalists on August 2016, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, that Trump would win America’s election, said God had also revealed to him that Dangote would be Nigeria’s President, but he was not sure whether he would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari or not.
According to him, the similarity between Trump and Dangote is that both are successful businessmen, rather than politicians, and God plans to use them to salvage their countries from problems. Amu recalled that when he predicted Trump’s victory, no newspaper reported it, saying, “I even told my children to circulate the information on their facebook but they declined. The same God, who revealed Donald Trump’s victory in the US, has also declared His intention to install Dangote as the future President of Nigeria.”
The cleric said God had chosen to entrust Trump and Dangote with power in their countries, because they were wealthy and would not steal their nations’ wealth, adding that it was God’s divine strategy to cripple corruption in governance.
Dangote, who clocked 60 years last week, is a towering giant in Nigeria’s socio-political and economic landscape. He was born in Kano State into a very prominent business family.
He is the great grandson of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the richest African at the time of his death in 1955. He started business at a very early stage.
“I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time”, Dangote said recently.
Today, he is the billionaire owner of Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, and Zambia. As of February 2017, he had an estimated net worth of US$12.5 billion.
He is the first Nigerian non-public office holder to be awarded Nigeria’s second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), only a rank away from the nation’s president, who is normally the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Dangote is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 67th richest person in the world and the richest in Africa. He peaked on the list as the 23rd richest person in the world in 2014. He surpassed Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi in 2013 by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest person of African descent.
Forbes in its 2016 World’s Most Powerful People list aptly pictured Dangote, Africa’s richest man for four consecutive years, and the largest employer of labour in Nigeria (after the Federal Government), in a memorable quote.
“There are nearly 7.4 billion people on planet earth, but Aliko Dangote is one of the 74 men and women who make the world turn”.
Dangote is known to be a kind-hearted individual, regardless of race, religion or region. He had given back to the community through funding community skill development centres, donation of drugs, provision of basic infrastructure, scholarships and educational endowments, among others.
His philanthropic spending in the last two years is in excess of N30 billion ($185 million).
Some of his charity programmes include the Dangote Academy worth about N1 billion ($6 million), through it he aims to develop manpower across various disciplines. He had also spent N1 billion on the rehabilitation of some Nigerian universities, as part of its contribution to the educational sector.
Dangote also made the donation of N2.5 billion ($15.4 million) some years ago to cushion the effect of flooding in Nigeria – the single highest donation by a private body in the history of Nigeria. N430 million ($2.8 million) was also given to flood victims, unemployed youths and women in Kogi State in the same year.
Recently Dangote group also donated N540 million ($3.3 million) to vulnerable women as a result of insurgency in the North East of Nigeria as well as donating 12 trailer-load of relief items worth N40 million ($246,502) to support the government in bringing succour to victims of communal clash.
Dangote has also been involved in aiding foreign nations with $500,000 donated to victims of explosion in Republic of Congo; $2 million contributed for flood victims in Pakistan; and $740,500 to cushion the effect of famine in Niger Republic. In 2013 Aliko Dangote Foundation collaborated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work on eradicating polio and strengthening routine immunization in northern Nigeria. As a direct result of this ongoing partnership, there has not been any new case of polio since July 2014, but in 2016, new cases were found.
In 2014, a new board of trustees was appointed to oversee the Foundation and Aliko Dangote endowed the foundation with $1.25 billion.
His company, Dangote Group, emerged Nigeria’s best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) company in 2016. Dangote was the adjudged overall winner among 25 Nigerian and multinational companies operating in the country, scoring 6.3 per cent.
Dangote is followed by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State (5 percent), who most respondents described as the most visible face of opposition in the country. A respondent who picked Fayose as his most popular Nigerian, Ezeja Victor, said: In the political circle, I think Fayose is the most popular not just in his state but the entire federation.
“He has been an outstanding opposition leader since the advent of Buhari’s administration. He has always stood his ground in all issues of governance, refusing to bow to pressure from the federal political machination designed to silence him.
He was supported by a journalist, Mr. Justus Adejumoh, who noted that Fayose remains the main man standing as an opposition to the ruling party and government.
“Ayo Fayose remains the visible face of opposition in Nigeria. He remains the only authentic Nigerian among with a voice against the government of the day, apart from Governor Wike of Rivers State.
Other top names on the list that appealed to Nigerians include Bola Ahmed Tinubu (3 percent), who was chosen because of his position as the most popular political figure in the South West and former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi, who got large votes because of his performance while he served as governor.
“Obi has endeared himself to many by standing for Ndigbo”, said a respondent, Lawrence Chika.
Another nominee who performed woefully in the ranking is President Muhamadu Buhari.
Buhari’s rating took a turn for the worse just two years after his high approval rating. Findings revealed that a larger proportion of Nigerians disapproved of the president’s job performance over the past 22 month. On the other hand, less that 10 percent of the respondents approved of president’s job performance.
Respondents were asked to state the reasons for approving or disapproving the president’s performance. The result revealed that insecurity and epileptic power supply topped the lists of reasons for disapproving the president’s job performance in the last 23 months.
However, the president scores high in his anti- corruption battle.