Alhaji Aliko Dangote

…Giving wealth a human face

BY EMEKA EJERE

In the face of government’s inability to meet the basic needs of the citizenry on account of inadequate finance, some non-governmental organisations, corporate and public-spirited individuals are going out of their ways to try to reduce the resultant deficits in healthcare, education and infrastructure in the country. Among the organisations that have been outstanding in this direction is the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF).

ADF is the private charitable foundation of the president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. The foundation works with state governments, national governments and many highly reputable international and domestic charities, non-governmental organisations and international agencies to advance its humanitarian agenda.

In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) Independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication officially declared Nigeria and the African Region free of wild poliovirus, leaving the devastating disease endemic in only two countries of the world – Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is not contestable that the historic feat could not have been possible, at least for now, without the invaluable contribution of the ADF. While Nigeria eagerly awaited her certification as polio-free by WHO, the ADF boosted the nation’s efforts to finally end the scourge which had affected thousands of children across the country.

The organisation, in support of government’s efforts to end polio, released a detailed report which showed the impact of a partnership agreement on routine immunisation (RI) and polio eradication, which was signed between the ADF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and six Northern States comprising Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, Sokoto, Borno and Yobe.

Chairman of the foundation, Dangote, in his remarks at the formal certification of Wild Poliovirus Eradication in Africa during a virtual forum organised by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, expressed deep satisfaction at the final eradication of wild polio in Nigeria and Africa after years of hard work and collaboration among stakeholders. He urged national and regional/state governments across Africa to increase their budgetary allocations to the healthcare sector to help ensure improved basic healthcare for the people

The renowned humanitarian, who was commended alongside co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates by President Muhammadu Buhari for their vital interventions in the strengthening of RI in Nigeria, pledged to devote more of his wealth to support the provision of adequate quality healthcare to curb maternal and child mortality.

Dangote said, “Africa’s young people will drive our continent’s future success. It is our duty as leaders to invest now in their health and well-being. That is why I started my Foundation in 1994, and why I have been pushing to eradicate polio across Africa for many years. Nothing is more important than the health of our children.”

The ADF has also participated prominently in the fight against the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The foundation donated N1.5 billion ($3.8 million) to the ‘Nigeria/United Nations COVID-19 Basket Fund’ to boost the fight against the pandemic.

A statement by the UN in Nigeria indicated at the time that the ADF’s collaboration with the UN would boost the Nigerian government’s efforts at strengthening the functional capacity of the healthcare systems and support to those affected by the Coronavirus.

The statement quoted Alhaji Dangote as saying that the contribution would support in the procurement of medical supplies.

“The contribution will go toward the procurement of the much-needed testing, medical supplies and equipment to aid the healthcare response against the COVID-19 pandemic”, Dangote said.

“The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria is enormous and affects us all as no institution can battle it alone. It is, therefore, critical that we act in solidarity as a private sector actor and as a foundation, to beat this common enemy. Our goal is to contribute to the government’s ongoing efforts in tackling the spread of the coronavirus and the arising challenges.’’

Dangote also made a personal donation of N2 billion to support the cause.

T.Y. Danjuma Foundation

T.Y. Danjuma Foundation is a private independent Nigerian philanthropic organisation committed to improving the quality of life of Nigerians by supporting primary health and education interventions implemented by the not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) registered and working in Nigeria.

The Foundation, which was established in 2009 by Lt. Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, GCON – a retired Nigerian Army Chief of Staff, and an astute and successful businessman, became fully operational in 2010 and has continued to make grants.

The TY Danjuma Foundation is famous for committing $5 million over a period of five years in Nigeria in grants to women and children’s health initiatives under its Community Health Initiatives Programme.

The aim is to support the strengthening of maternal health care centres, train hospital personnel, donate medical equipment and provide technical support to health centres in rural communities; to support the organisation of consultative meetings and capacity building training to strengthen the grantees and other partner organisations effectiveness in the area of maternal and child health, and to identify and forge collaborations with other philanthropic organisations working in similar areas of intervention.

To help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 PANDEMIC, the foundation on April 22 donated relief items worth millions of naira to over 5,000 persons fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resettlement camp, Wassa in the outskirts of Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Wassa resettlement is the largest IDPs camp in the Federal Capital Territory. There are over 5000 IDPs currently living in the camp, 70% of whom are women and children who depend largely on donations, subsistence farming and daily jobs for survival.

Fielding questions from journalists shortly after the items were distributed, acting chief executive officer of the TY Danjuma Foundation, Gima H. Forje said “The chairman and founder of the Foundation is particularly concerned about the wellbeing of the most vulnerable especially in the face of the novel coronavirus which is impacting on their lives and livelihoods disproportionately.”

BUA Foundation

BUA Foundation, which has also been a household name in the business of philanthropy in Nigeria, took it to the next level in the fight against COVID-19. Its chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, made a cash donation of N1 billion through the Foundation and took it a step further by placing orders for additional equipment and medical supplies, including testing kits and protective gear to nine states across the country: Lagos, Kano, Adamawa, Edo, Kwara, Rivers, Abia, Akwa-Ibom and Sokoto.

Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a conglomerate that engages in the sugar refining, cement manufacturing, real estate, and port operations. He is the third richest man in Nigeria, according to Forbes with $3.13 billion net worth.

“Each of these nine states will receive about 100,000 protective facemasks, 1000 high-grade medical protection and isolation gear, 2000 protective goggles, 1000 gloves and 1000 testing kits among other things,” Rabiu had stated.

The BUA Group also made a separate donation of N300 million to Sokoto, Edo and Ogun States to help trigger a coordinated response in the fight against COVID-19. BUA Cement has its major operations in the benefitting states, even as Ogun State was selected as a beneficiary due to its proximity to Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria.

UBA Foundation

UBA Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, believes in promoting social and economic development in the community. Through its contributions and donations, the Foundation has embarked on various special projects such as the donation of $14 million towards the battle against COVID-19, Braille machines to secondary school students to improve adverse living conditions in many communities, support to the Sierra Leone government to manage the horrific mudslides among others.

The Foundation believes in intervening and building capacity within the community to facilitate projects that act as a catalyst to social and economic development. A good number of communities and institutions of learning have benefitted from the interventions of the foundation.

For instance, the Foundation has constructed a pedestrian bridge valued at about N13m for the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto State (UDUS), thus bringing succour to students of the institution.

For over four decades, the students of UDUS, especially those living off-campus, faced difficulties in accessing the campus, especially during the rainy season, due to the poor state of the road. They could not get in and out of their hotels and had to use an uncomfortably long route to get to lectures and the mosque.

The UBA Foundation is also touching lives and making a solid impact through its National Essay Competition and the grant it gives out annually to those who emerge winners.

Speaking at the prize-giving for the 2019 edition of the competition, managing director/chief executive officer of UBA Plc Mr Kennedy Uzoka, who doubles as the chairman of the Foundation said;

“What we are doing today is unique in Africa; we are doing this to continue to encourage our young ones to study hard because we noticed that over time, the level of education has been going Southward. For nine years now, we have been supporting students with grants to further their educational pursuits.”

Femi Otedola

Billionaire businessman, Mr Femi Otedola, can be described as a pacesetter in humanitarian gestures. Over the years, he has awarded multi-million naira scholarships to indigent students in Lagos State, especially those from his Epe home town.

About five years ago, Otedola expanded his milk of kindness when he pledged a contribution of N1 billion towards funding scholarships for indigent students in the state and was said to have quietly surpassed that figure without making any fuss of his goodness.

Not long ago, Otedola graciously paid $50,000 for the medical treatment of national football hero, Christian Chukwu abroad. He also footed the medical bills of Peter Fregene, former international goalkeeper. Prior to that commendable act of generosity to his fellow men, the billionaire had also opted for the moral choice to be his brother’s keeper when he came to the rescue of ailing veteran actor, Victor Olaotan by donating $100,000 (N36 million) to fund his treatment.

Also, sometime last year, the oil magnet caused some sensation with a promise of taking care of the medical expenses of ailing Nollywood actor, Sadiq Daba. In a statement, Otedola said he was sad to hear that the veteran actor had fallen ill again. In 2017, Daba, who had been battling leukaemia and prostate cancer for the past few years, returned to Nigeria having travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.

“God has been so kind, the only way I can show my gratitude to Him is to use my resources to support those who are underprivileged. This I intend to do for the rest of my life. In a world full of conflicts, diseases, calamities and inequality, we all need to show the milk of human kindness, to reach out and comfort the sick and give a helping hand to the weak.”

Those were the touching words of Otedola in November last year as he issued a cheque of N5 billion in support of Save the Children, a 100-year old UK-based charity. His donation is for the rehabilitation of displaced and underprivileged children who are victims of the insurgency in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.

The cheque was presented by Tolani Otedola, the billionaire’s eldest daughter, at a gala event in Abuja, organised by another daughter, Florence Otedola, who is popularly known as DJ Cuppy.

Mr Otedola also supported the fight against COVID-19 with a donation of N1 billion. “We must all do what we can to flatten the curve,” he wrote on his Instagram and Twitter handles while announcing the donation.