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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALIKO MOHAMMED DANGOTE, World’s Richest Black Person [+Photos]

Dangote. ”Aliko Dangote deserves more honours than those of us holding political offices’.

-GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, Nigerian President. Continue to read this very interesting piece

Dangote.

Dangote. The confident smile of a billionaire.

ALIKO-DANGOTE-BOSS

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Some weeks ago, I was telling my friends that if you give Aliko Dangote, the most successful black businessman on earth about eight more years, he will become the richest man in the world. Then the argument started. Hmmm…you needed to be there! Fingers were pointing furiously and some eyeballs were almost plucked out of their sockets. Veins pulsated and muscles twitched like mad. We raised the tempo of the noise and almost brought down the roof. As we sweated it out, one of my friends was shouting vociferously (if you dey read this, you know sey I know kuku send una na…lol!) that it was impossible, that ‘do I know what it means to be the richest man on earth’ bla bla, with all the plenty grammar! Thank God sey our Landlord no dey house that day, e for purshoe (make I toosh am na) us comot for hin house, and maybe we for go carry our palis apply for Dangote company to be ‘superdrivers’ and use hin cement truck for bedrooms.

 

A few days after our ‘National Assembly argument’, Dangote jumped 33 places from 76 to become number 43 in the world. You will appreciate that better when you realize he was at a distant number 334 in 2008. From $3.3billion to $16.1 billion in just 5 years! In 2011, Forbes released its earth-shaking list of billionaires and there was a startling revelation: a 54-year-old Nigerian man was the biggest gainer in percentage terms -an incredible 557%, when many billionaires were losing chunks of money and even dropped out of the list! Trust me na, I kukuma do ‘tongue’ for my friends that day…lol! A very confident and optimistic man, Dangote believes that by the time he is 62 in 2019, he’d be worth around $70 billion. I don’t doubt that presumption.

Hmmm….Aliko. Alhaji Aliko. Dangote. Aliko Dangote. The richest person in Nigeria. Federal Republic of Swagger #Power.Money&Respect #Agbara.Owo-Ati-Iyi. The richest person in West Africa. The richest person in Africa. The richest black person on earth. Okay, person go start him tori noni…lol but seriously speaking, this is one story that will inspire, motivate and make you appreciate what tenacity is all about. Yes, yes, I know, he’s close to government and all that na (there is nothing like unquestionable wealth and as my people will say isale oro legbin meaning if you dig real deep, the source of wealth is always unspeakable, and by the way, have you forgotten this is business we are talking about?), but you need to know that you can also achieve anything in life as long as you are ready to pay the price.

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The Boss in his office. Take a good look at the plaque on his table and read the caption and be inspired.

The Boss in his office. Take a good look at the plaque on his table, read the caption and be inspired.

What Dangote has on the desk in his office.

What Dangote has on the desk in his office.

A prodigiously wealthy and luxuriantly blessed human, Aliko Dangote said that it took him 30 tortuous years to become a billionaire but youths of today want to become a gazillionaire faster than Usain Bolt. Many Nigerian youths are bitter (like bitterness will make one better), pointing accusing fingers at people like Dangote, Adenuga and generally seeing nothing good in what others do, believing the world is against them. For those, I leave you with the immutable words of JK Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter series: “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” That is not all. The legendary French writer and philosopher who rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre also said: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give life a meaning.” But perhaps, the most poignant advice of all is from the Wise One of China, Confucius, who stated thousands of years ago: “Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.”

4-ALIKO-DANGOTE

In a nation like Nigeria where there is so much negativity emanating right from independence till date, Aliko Mohammad Dangote, the Kano-born billionaire with the Midas touch is a man who must be appreciated and celebrated -for good reasons.

You might well remember that nothing can bring you success but yourself.

-NAPOLEON HILL (1883-1970), American speaker and motivational speaker.

OVERVIEW

-ANCESTRY

-EARLY DAYS & GROWING UP/FAMILY

-SCHOOLING

-LOVE, HEARTBREAKS, CHILDREN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCES

-HOW HE STARTED

-ROMANCING POLITICIANS AND SUPPORTING GOVERNMENTS

-BECOMING A BILLIONAIRE

-THE PLANE CRASHES AND NEAR PLANE CRASH

-THE SECRETS OF DANGOTE’S SUCCESS

-INTERESTING AND FUN THINGS ABOUT DANGOTE

-CRITICISM

-THE DANGOTE GROUP

-APPOINTMENTS, AWARDS, LAURELS & HONOURS

-DANGOTE’S DONATIONS AND PHILANTHROPY

-REFERENCES

ANCESTRY

Young Aliko was born in the ancient city of Kano of the famed groundnut pyramids. Kano has been a commercial center for centuries with it being a focal point for all kinds of economic activities ranging from the sale of slaves in exchange for salt to the trade in spices, kolanuts, leather, cotton, sugar and gold. Alhassan Abdullahi Dantata (named for Tata, the nurse who raised him, Dantata means ‘the son of Tata’) was his maternal great grandfather and he also learnt the art of business and making money from his own father.

By 1913, he was the largest exporter of kolanuts in West Africa. The coming of the colonial masters with the railway was too good an opportunity for him as he took advantage of the rails to move his kolanuts along the Lagos-Kano route. With time, he became the sole distributor for the Lever Brothers (later Unilever) and add the profits of the groundnut boom, he was already super-rich, the richest in Nigeria, and by 1955 when he died, he was clearly the richest in West Africa.

Dangote's maternal great-grandfather, kolanut trader and richest man in West Africa during his lifetime, Alhaji Alhassan Abdullahi Dantata.

Dangote’s maternal great-grandfather, kolanut trader and richest man in West Africa during his lifetime, Alhaji Alhassan Abdullahi Dantata.

The children of the late polygamous merchant swore to an oath by the Holy Qu’ran with their father on the deathbed to work together and not split the family’s business empire. Till today, the Dantatas run things in Nigeria -without any noise. Groundnut trader, Sanusi Alhassan Dantata, Nigeria’s first millionaire, was the eldest of the siblings and was the overseer of the family’s business activities.

Dangote grew up in the loving care of his maternal grandfather, Sanusi who took Aliko, his first grandson, into his care after the untimely death of his father. Sanusi transformed the family business even beyond the wildest dreams of their late dad. This grand old rich man died in 1997, and left many children, one of whom is Mariya, his eldest daughter and Umm Aliko (the mother of Aliko).

With the Emir of Kano, Alhaji (Dr.) Ado Bayero.

With the Emir of Kano where he comes from, Alhaji (Dr.) Ado Bayero.

Rewind back to the 1950s and we meet a man named Mohammed Dangote, a businessman, fellow Qadirriya sect member and ally of Sanusi Dantata. This man would later ko-enu-ife-si (‘toast’) Mariya, the daughter of his friend, through her father and his business associate, Sanusi Dantata. Mohammed Dangote dabbled into politics and was even a Member, Northern House of Assembly and belonged to the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello. By the mid-50s, the two lovebirds were joined together in holy matrimony in Kano. That was the fusing point of the Dantatas and the Dangotes.

EARLY DAYS & GROWING UP

On the 10th of April, 1957, a bouncing baby boy weighing just a little above three kilogrammes was born in Kano. The radiant mother was Mariya and the small baby boy of that day is the reason you are reading this. A week after, he was named after his father while his overjoyed grandfather, Sanusi Dantata gave him the name ‘Aliko’ which means ‘The Victorious One Who Defends Humanity’. His middle name, Mohammed, named for the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is a common one in the Islamic faith and it means ‘The One Who Is Worthy of Praise.’ Dangote did not grow up with his mother and did not know much of his father (he met him on very rare occasions) as he died in 1965 when he was just eight years old, and he was raised by his maternal grandfather who was very fond of him and made sure he lacked nothing while growing up in their expansive Koki Quarters in Kano. Dangote later said: ‘All that I am today and that I have become, I owe it to him.’

True son of the soil: Proudly representing Africa and Africans.

True son of the soil: Proudly representing Africa and Africans.

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FAMILY

From his own mother’s side, Dangote has three siblings: Sani, Bello and a younger brother who died in an air crash in Kano with Ibrahim Abacha in 1996 (read more about the plane crash here: http://abiyamo.com/sani-abacha-nigerias-most-enigmatic-ruler/). Dangote’s mother, who became a widow in 1965 is still very much alive, was honoured with a degree by the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), runs one of the largest charities in Nigeria but is protected from the public eye. When Dangote bought his recreational boat, he named it after his Abiyamo (Mother), calling itMariya.

Huh!?

Huh!?

SCHOOLING

For someone who grew up in Kano, a city of knowledge, it was no surprise that Dangote took to educating himself. Like many of his peers growing up under the great influence of Islamic scholars of the old city, he took off to one of the oldest universities on earth, Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

-1964: Kano Capital Elementary School (during break time in the high-brow primary school with other schoolkids who wanted sweets, Aliko would bring out a handful and told his jolly good friends that they could have one for a dime. He was that sharp.)

-1964: Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrasa (Arabic School): He attended the Quranic school when he returned from the primary school, a pattern that is common with many Nigerian Muslims.

-1970s: Capital High School, Kano.

-1970s: School of Economics & Business, Al Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, where he bagged a degree in business studies and administration. In addition to all these forms of formal education, he also got a great deal of informal education from his grandfather, which he makes use of till this day. Hear him: ‘All my business acumen and instincts I inherited from my maternal grandfather. As his first grandson, he poured his business wizardry into me. I would not have been where I am today without him; a very great man, loving and caring.’

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LOVE, HEARTBREAKS, CHILDREN, MARRIAGE & DIVORCES

In any continent of the world, there are some ladies who would dump their wretched husbands in a microsecond and follow a moneybag like billionaire Dangote without hesitation. The poor husband will only console himself with Chief Ebenezer Obey’s Sisi kojale, a lo ba millionaire lo…lol! Handsome, dashing, calm and stupendously wealthy, it is no surprise that not a few women cannot resist the charm of Dangote. Like other men on earth, he also has his own share of the romantic sagas and Cupid-induced high blood pressure..lol. A serial monogamist, Aliko Dangote has 15 children even though three from his current marriage (Halima, Fatima and Sadia) are officially listed. His children include:

Aliko Dangote and his daughter, Fatima. She has also started her own venture and is the brain behind Cupcake Factory, Lagos State where she makes very spectacular cake designs.

Aliko Dangote and his daughter, Fatima. She has also started her own venture and is the brain behind Cupcake Factory, Lagos State where she makes very spectacular cake designs.

Fatima, Aliko Dangote's daughter.

Fatima, Aliko Dangote’s daughter.

Fatima, Aliko Dangote's daughter.

Fatima, Aliko Dangote’s daughter.

-HALIMA (F) (see pictures).

-ZAYNAB (F) -named for her mum.

-SALMA (F) (meaning peace).

-FATIMA (F) (see pictures)

-AISHA (F)

-SADIA (F)

Looking radiant: Halima on her wedding day.

Looking radiant: Halima on her wedding day.

The Billionaire's Daughter: Halima. Decked in ankara and a flowing veil, she is simple and unassuming like the father. Here, she accompanied her father to Kogi State where they went to donated N430million worth of relief materials to flood victims. Halima is happily married.

The Billionaire’s Daughter: Halima. Decked in ankara and a flowing veil, she is simple and unassuming like the father. Here, she accompanied her father to Kogi State where they went to donate N430million worth of relief materials to flood victims. Based in the United States, Halima is happily married and a mother of two, she recently welcomed a baby girl. Wait a minute, that looks like a Rolex Lady Perpetual Oyster…lol!

Here, Dangote's daughter, Halima accompanies her dad to Kogi State where they went to condole with and present relief materials to the flood victims. An obviously joyful Governor Idris Wada is in the middle.

Here, Dangote’s daughter, Halima accompanies her dad to Kogi State where they went to condole with and present relief materials worth N430 million to the flood victims. An obviously joyful Governor Idris Wada is in the middle.

Daddy and his girl. Smiles all the way.

Daddy and his girl. Smiles all the way.

PRESIDENT, DANGOTE GROUP, ALHAJI ALIKO DANGOTE (L), HOLDING HIS GRAND-DAUGHTER AS GOV. RABIU KWANKWASO OF KANO APPLIES POLIO VACCINATION ON THE BABY AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE.

PRESIDENT, DANGOTE GROUP, ALHAJI ALIKO DANGOTE (L), HOLDING HIS GRAND-DAUGHTER AS GOV. RABIU KWANKWASO OF KANO APPLIES POLIO VACCINATION ON THE BABY AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE.

His daughter, Halima getting married to her lover, Sulaiman Sani-Bello. The two lovebirds met at school in the United Kingdom.

His daughter, Halima getting married to her lover, Sulaiman Sani-Bello. The two lovebirds met at school in the United Kingdom.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote has been married and divorced three times before his current marriage. He was not engaged in polygamy at any point but took one wife at a time. In May 1977, his family selected his first wife for him and the union was consummated without delay. Aliko had just turned 20. Fast forward to 2009, Dangote fell in love with the young daughter of the late Nigerian President, Nafisat Yar’adua (now the wife of the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda). Nafisat turned down Dangote’s advances for one reason: she was friends with Halima, Dangote’s daughter. Nafisat, at the age of 21, became Governor Yuguda’s fourth wife in 2009.

Life is not all perfect, even for billionaires. Yeah, there are times life makes you frown.

Life is not all perfect, even for billionaires. Yeah, there are times life makes you frown.

Like any other man, his ego was hurt. You will get a better picture of the scenario when you realize the fact that one of the former wives of Dangote (Hajia Mariya A.D Rufai, see below) was married to Governor Yuguda (although he later divorced her in June 2010 after 10 years of marriage over irreconcilable differences but some of the reasons alluded to was that she was absent at President Yar’adua’s (Yuguda’s in-law) burial, allegedly leaking sensitive state secrets to Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, then Secretary to the Federal Government and the final straw that enraged the Governor was the fact that she congratulated Alhaji Bala Mohammed, the new minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who was a bitter enemy of the Governor who was desperate to get a second term and felt he could spoil his chances). But calmly and gracefully, Dangote took all life threw at him and when you see his charming and disarming smiles, you’d never guess he was once heartbroken.

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His cheerful countenance and lively personality all belie the internal struggles of a man and the challenges he has faced in life. He does not cut the picture of a monster but that of a benevolent patriarch atop an octopodal business empire.

Hajia Nafisat Yar'adua (now Mrs. Yuguda).

Hajia Nafisat Yar’adua (now Mrs. Yuguda).

Dangote's former wife, Hajia Mariya Rufai. She later married Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda who later divorced her after 10 years.

Dangote’s former wife, Hajia Mariya Rufai. She later married Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda in 1999/2000 who later divorced her after 10 years.

After he divorced his first wife that his family got for him, he married Mariya A. D Muhammad Rufai, a Senator’s daughter and former Bauchi State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Human Services (see pictures). After he divorced her, he married two other women but the marriages collapsed.

Some other women have also been romantically linked to the billionaire. These include the Director and Secretary of his United Kingdom subsidiary, Dangote Global Services, Miss Oluwatosin Coker while another is the late Ondo-born business executive, sugar merchant and reverend with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Rev. Chief (Mrs.) Josephine Oluwadamilola Kuteyi, with whom he dragged the purchase of the Bacita Sugar Factory. A divorcee mother of four sons (Saheed, Ganiyu, Ahmed and Rasaq), she died in a helicopter crash in Osun State in 2011 while on her way to her Bacita sugar company in Kwara State. The helicopter plunged down from a height of 2,500 feet, killing all the occupants.

The late Mrs. Kuteyi, one of women mentioned in Dangote's life.

The late Mrs. Kuteyi, one of women mentioned in Dangote’s life.

In the masterpiece and Dangote’s biography written by the legendary Chicago-based Nigerian journalist Moshood Fayemiwo and Margie Neal, Dangote approached her, especially when both were slugging it out over the Bacita sugar plant but she might have turned down his marriage proposal over religious differences. You will have to read Fayemiwo’s book for the full details. I have read the book and I must tell you that it is the most detailed book on Dangote ever written and it is very affordable, see below for details on how to get your own copy. Aliko Dangote has also been linked in a sizzling romance with popular Hausa actress, Jamila Nagudu and same goes for Yoruba actress, Bisi-Ibidapo Obe (also known asOlabisi Omo Logba Logba).

Jamila Nagudu, Hausa actress romantically linked to Dangote.

Jamila Nagudu, Hausa actress romantically linked to Dangote.

Bisi-Ibidapo Obe, Yoruba actress also romantically linked to Aliko Dangote.

Bisi-Ibidapo Obe, Yoruba actress also romantically linked to Aliko Dangote.

HOW HE STARTED

Oh, he loves gesticulating!

Oh, he loves gesticulating!

Before I proceed any further, I must make it abundantly clear that although Dangote was born with a platinum spoon and onto the laps of luxury, influence and power, he defined his own path to greatness and carved a niche for himself by becoming a man of independence, detaching from family business, setting up his own enterprise in 1978 and transforming it into a global success.

A very lovable billionaire and not media-shy, Dangote sits down to a chat with young Africans in his office.

A very lovable billionaire and not media-shy, Dangote sits down to a chat with young Africans in his office.

This writer strongly believes that even without his privileged background, Dangote has all it takes to reach the capstone of the financial pyramid. For someone who grew up in a business environment, Dangote took interest very early in entrepreneurship ventures. He says: ‘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 much interested in business. Even at that time, I was very used to buying and selling. It is in my mind all through. I did that on a part-time basis. I usually bought packets of sweets and gave some people to sell for me. I would join them whenever I closed from school. I would collect my profit and give them something out of it. And we continued like that.’

Brainstorming at the World Economic Forum. But Bobo, oju yin yin deru bayan o...lol!

Brainstorming at the World Economic Forum. But Bobo, oju yin yin deru bayan o…lol!

When he left for Lagos as a 20-year-old in 1977, Nigeria was enjoying stupendous oil profits and the military government of the day decided to ruin some of it on FESTAC’77. There was massive construction going on in various parts of the country and it was at that moment Dangote went to his beloved grandfather to ask for a loan so he could import cement which will be used for some of the FESTAC buildings. He narrates: ‘For me, I started small as a trader in cement. Then I left cement around 1978. Because there was this armada and cement was difficult to get at that time. I had my own money which my grandfather gave me free, but then he gave me also an additional loan of N500,000 (about $3,000) which was big money in those days. At that time (1978), you could purchase ten Mercedes Benz cars with that amount as each was sold for N5,000 while a Volkswagen Beetle went for N900 to N1,000. The money was quite a substantial amount then. The loan was supposed to be paid back whenever I was okay-maybe after three or four years. But I paid the loan back within six months.’

Serikin Samanti! (The King of Cement).

Serikin Samanti! (The King of Cement).

The real genius of Dangote is his ability to transform that seed money of yesterday into the billions of dollars today. The crux of the matter here is not that he got a helping hand from his rich grandfather but what he did with the assistance.

Throughout the Obasanjo regime down to Shagari, Buhari and IBB, there were vast construction projects: estates, federal universities (like UNILORIN) and so on. And cement was obviously needed. Obasanjo and Dangote, who was still working with his uncle, first met in the 1970s when he was the federal commissioner (minister) of transport. Also, while he was in Lagos, he learnt a lot from his uncle, Usman who had already formed solid ties with the military governments and got rice importation deals in 1970 at the end of the 30-month Nigerian Civil War. When their fellow Kano man, the late Murtala Mohammed came to power, his 27-year-old uncle was one of those contracted to decongest the Nigerian seaports in Lagos and made huge fortunes. With time, Aliko was brought on board, following them to business meetings in the dead of the night. It was during this time in Lagos he began to learn how to speak the Yoruba language.

While working with his uncle in Lagos, ‘squatting in his office’, he learnt a lot. He said of those times: ‘I started with the business of cement, which was giving us a lot of money because at that time, Nigeria was making so much money and we were doing a lot of constructions. On a vehicle which I normally get from my uncle, I was making about N1,350 to N1,400 per day, and I had an allocation of about 3-4 trucks including Saturdays and Sundays. Later , I realized I was making a lot of money though then I didn’t have a lot of ideas of what to do. It was only cement business that I knew and I was stuck to it up till 1980, when I started knowing Lagos, becoming a Lagosian, understanding where to go and finding people to buy import licenses from. Within three months, I paid my grandfather back because I had no further need of his money.’

For a man who started with 3-4 trucks, Dangote now has a nationwide fleet of about 10,000 trucks criss-crossing the entire nation. He has an innovative method that allows drivers to own the trucks after driving for a few years. On the down side, thes trucks have been involved in one road mishap or the other, killing innocent and hustling Nigerians.

For a man who started with 3-4 trucks, Dangote now has a nationwide fleet of about 10,000 trucks criss-crossing the entire nation. He has an innovative method that allows drivers to own the trucks after driving for a few years. On the down side, these trucks have been involved in one road mishap or the other, killing innocent and hustling Nigerians.

ROMANCING POLITICIANS AND SUPPORTING GOVERNMENTS

President Goodluck Jonathan commissions the $1 billion Dangote Cement Factory in Ibese, Ogun State, Thursday, 9th February, 2012. To the left of the President is Dangote and to the right is the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun.

President Goodluck Jonathan commissions the $1 billion Dangote Cement Factory in Ibese, Ogun State, Thursday, 9th February, 2012. To the left of the President is Dangote and to the right is the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun.

Making a point to the Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nice cap, Mr. President.

Making a point to the Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Nice cap, Mr. President.

Aliko Dangote and the representatives of the Bill & Gates Foundation with Governor Kwankwaso of Kano State where they went to support immunization efforts.

Aliko Dangote and the representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with Governor Kwankwaso of Kano State where they went to support immunization efforts.

Like other billionaires out there, Dangote is a very smart dude. He knows that you have nothing to gain and the whole world to lose if you decide to fight or oppose the government as a businessman. Ask Mikhail Khodokorvsky, one-time Russia’s richest man and 16th in the world. But where is he now? Arrested on charges of embezzlement and money laundering in 2005, he was given nine years in prison with all fingers pointing to his main foe and President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. When there were hopes of release, new charges were brought up against him and his sentence was later extended to 2017. As you read this, Khodokorvsky, an only son and an incorrigible opponent of Putin is still anguishing in a 247-year-old Moscow jail, with his vast business empire crumbling before his very eyes. His crime? He had the  ’audacity’ to criticize Putin’s government over state corruption during a meeting. When Nigeria became independent in 1960, Dangote’s maternal grandfather adopted the policy of being friendly with the government and that paid off hugely. Like Otunba Mike Adenuga, the Apesin of Ijebuland and Nigeria’s second richest man, Dangote has no business in politics but he is friends with the politicians who have the power to make him rise or destroy all he has been building all his life in a matter of minutes. All it takes is just a signature. Dangote later revealed:

And a grateful nation rewards the suave entrepreneur.

And a grateful nation rewards the suave entrepreneur.

‘I happened to be the first grandson of Sanusi Dantata. I learnt a lot from his hardwork, from his simplicity. People always talk about my humility but nothing can compare with him. When you see him you would think he doesn’t have anything. His humility is the type I have never seen anywhere. He was a very humble person. He never looked down on anybody. He is always a respecter of authority. He always advises us: No matter what you do, you must always respect the authority of the day. Do not fight government. You must be an obedient person. And that’s something I learnt and took seriously. I inherited my business skills from my grandfather. They were also business people -the Dantatas.’

Ever-humble, Aliko Dangote pays obeisance to the traditional ruler of his hometown, the Emir of Kano, Alh (Dr). Ado Bayero.

Ever-humble, Aliko Dangote pays obeisance to the traditional ruler of his hometown, the Emir of Kano, Alh (Dr). Ado Bayero.

Aliko Dangote having a chat with former Oyo State Governor, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala at a national award ceremony.

Aliko Dangote having a chat with former Oyo State Governor, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala at a national award ceremony. I would have said something about someone here but let me ‘close’ my mouth…lol!

Before his great grandfather, Alhassan Dantata died, he called his children to his deathbed and clearly spelt out four main rules one of which was for none of his descendants should dream of or even think of opposing the government. Others included marrying within the family to maintain the purity and business advantage, not to enter partnerships with another family or lineage and to ensure survival and continued progress of the dynastic business. Dangote and his other family members have stuck to all these rules with all the seriousness of a brain surgeon. Even though he is not directly involved in political activities, Dangote is not an ote (nincompoop) and he takes keen interest from the background as to the type of government in power, which he also subtly and surreptitiously influences ensuring ‘mischievous and evil-minded’ politicians do not come to power. He explained:

‘I am close to the people in power because I am one of the big businessmen in Nigeria. If we have the wrong people there, then all the money I have is useless. I do not want Nigeria to become another Zimbabwe so I am concerned about the political direction of my country, because if bad and inexperienced politicians control power in Nigeria, my wealth may turn into poverty and I am not ready to become a poor man.’ -ALIKO DANGOTE.

As for partnerships, he later elucidated: ‘I don’t like business partnerships or joint ventures. They create a lot of problems. When you enter into business partnership with any one, there is always room for suspicion. When you buy a new car, your partner’s wife would tell him it is the business money and company funds you have used. This is why I don’t enter into business partnership. I prefer to mind my own business.’

It can sound like a bitter pill to swallow but the fact is that billionaires cannot survive without politcal power and politicians will also exterminated without the financial support of their super-rich buddies. It is clearly a case of mutualism. You scratch my back, I rub your craw-craw. Former President Obasanjo said of him:

If after 50 years of our cement business in Nigeria we could not get it right and under four years, Dangote has gotten it, we have to support him.

And Baba Iyabo was true to his words as he placed a ban on the importation of bagged cement and even ordering that a newly-built cement bagging plant be closed down, stating that only those who have invested in cement production in Nigeria before will be allowed to do that.

BECOMING A BILLIONAIRE

Nigeria's First Billionaire.

Nigeria’s First Billionaire.

It took Dangote three decades to amass one billion US dollars. His journey is a very interesting one, showing all the features of luck, opportunity, hardwork and divine providence. Under the Shagari regime, there was an unprecedented importation of essential commodities and products. Dangote’s company, then named Alco Company was one of the major importers. He also supplied huge tonnage of cement to the governments at different levels embarking on construction of vast housing projects.

Aliko Dangote, the Scheming Schemer. A businessman with all the tactics of Machiavelli and the strategies of Sun Tzu.

Aliko Dangote, the Scheming Schemer. A businessman with all the tactics of Machiavelli and the strategies of Sun Tzu.

He is always at home with the younger generation, easy to approach and does not shun others like some other billionaires who think other less-endowed humans are not worth a dime.

He is always at home with the younger generation, easy to approach and does not shun others like some other billionaires who think other less-endowed humans are not worth a dime.

When the Shagari government decided to also pay more attention to the construction of Abuja, the proposed new Federal Capital Territory, Dangote’s cement was also on point. When General Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 1983, he clamped down on all the importation and dirty deals of the Shagari regime.

Businessmen and tycoons like Dangote were not too happy with the new draconian regime but he played it calm and quickly adapted. If you cannot adapt to changes in this world and keep blaming all kinds of external forces, your chances of survival are seriously limited. Being the smart dude that he is, while other businessmen were complaining and groaning under the iron fists of Buhari and Idiagbon, his Ilorin-born no-nonsense deputy, Dangote veered and formed Dangote General Textiles Products Enterprises and focused on what the government of the day wanted: exportation of local products such as gum arabic, cotton, millet, cocoa, leather products, cotton and cashew nuts.

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Alhaji Aliko Mohammed Dangote, the richest black in the world in his office in Lagos, Nigeria. Again, that looks like a Rolex…lol!

Aliko Dangote and Isha Sesay of CNN on one of his two private jets on their way to his Obajana Cement Factory, Kogi State. (Via CNN)

Aliko Dangote and Isha Sesay of CNN on one of his two private jets on their way to his Obajana Cement Factory, Kogi State. (Via CNN)

The wings of an eagle: Dangote's customized private jet.

The wings of an eagle: Dangote’s customized private jet.

Some years later, Dangote paid a visit to Brazil where he saw the wonders of manufacturing. He was inspired and motivated at the same time. He thought that even though Brazil was hugely indebted as a nation, their manufacturing sector was vibrant enough to support the economy. He made up his mind to go into manufacturing, continued exportation and reaped huge profits until IBB came unto the scene and kicked out Buhari and co. He said of his trip to the Latin American nation: ‘The first company I visited was called Arisco, and the company produced 503 different itemsI was impressed when I went to one of their factories. They had over 4,000 workers. Even though in Nigeria at that time, we were not in manufacturing, the only manufacturing company we had at that time was textiles. Going to Brazil I thought that we were at the same level with Brazil because I used to hear of Brazil as a debtor nation owing so much money. But when I went there, I saw massive industrialization, it was unbelievable. I started thinking that how come they have these things in Brazil and we don’t have it in Nigeria. So with that now, when I came back, I said okay, fine, I want to venture into industry.’

It is always wonderful to travel. It broadens your mind beyond all imagination. I had the same euphoric feeling and eye-opening experience the first time I left Nigeria for a United Nations global youth conference in Malaysia representing my country. Mixing with people from various cultures and cross-breeding ideas is an event that will ensure you never remain the same again, radically changing your mentality, unless of course, you weren’t paying attention. So I can relate very well with Dangote’s eureka moment upon landing in Brazil.

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Motivating the younger ones.

Motivating the younger ones.

Dangote delivers a lecture at the Lagos Business School (LBS).

Dangote delivers a lecture at the Lagos Business School (LBS).

Inside his office with associates.

Inside his office with associates.

Later, when IBB came, he ‘freed’ everybody and loosened the screws Buhari put on the economic policies. He liberalized the economy and once again, it was business as usual, corruption unlimited. Many businessmen took advantage of the situation and made resonating fortunes. Dangote did not ‘dull’ himself too and once again, flowed with the tide, protecting his business interests and embarked on manufacturing. By the time IBB’s regime collapsed in 1993 with him fleeing to Cairo, Dangote had his hands in virtually every sector of the Nigerian economy: cement, imports/exports/haulage, real estate, cement, insurance, banking, textiles, agriculture and many more. Now to the amazing part: Dangote was involved in the June 12 debacle when MKO and Bashir Tofa (also from Kano) approached him for support and he also financially bankrolled (albeit secretly) pro-democracy groups in Nigeria during Abacha’s stifling dictatorship.

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In December 1996, Abacha ordered Dangote to flood the nation’s markets with rice and he imported so much that the price of rice collapsed by almost 80%! Abacha later died under very controversial circumstances and not long after, Dangote’s old buddy, General Obasanjo came to power. As expected, Dangote was one of the largest donors to Baba Iyabo’s presidential campaigns, and he would later be handsomely rewarded. You also need to remember that Obasanjo’s vice, the Turaki of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was also a friend of Dangote. Atiku was a senior boss at the Nigeria Customs Service when Dangote was also one of the nation’s largest importers/exporters.

Inside one of his flour mills.

Inside one of his flour mills.

The Obasanjo presidency was a particularly rosy time for Dangote. Baba Iyabo came and set up the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) which ensured that moneyed Nigerians like Dangote could buy all they wanted with Dangote snapping up virtually all the nation’s cement plants. Dangote would later also heavily support the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua and the incumbent, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan aka GEJ….lol!

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Why Ohakim tie kon long like that na…lol!

THE PLANE CRASHES AND NEAR PLANE CRASH

Dangote has had very close shaves with death. In 1983, while he was cruising in his first aircraft, the plane crash landed in London and went up in flames. He narrowly escaped death but his pilot was not so lucky as his nervous system was crushed, leaving him paralyzed. The second one was in his home state of Kano and he also escaped death by the whiskers. That would not be the last.

The Survivor: Dangote almost lost his life on aircraft on three different occasions.

The Survivor: Dangote almost lost his life inside an aircraft on three different occasions.

Not long after Forbes announced him as Africa’s richest man in 2008, his private jet almost crashed when he left South Africa after an executive meeting. The jet was about to enter Angola when the pilot’s voice boomed throughout the aircraft: one of the engines had started misbehaving. You know that when you are flying and you take a good look down the window to the ground,thousands of feet below, you tell yourself that if anything happens, na original gbege be that as per sey na almost sure death. Shooooo!

Strings of sweat formed on Dangote’s face even in the cool interior of the luxury jet but he was calm. Others in the jet too were visibly apprehensive. Omo, I sure sey dem dey go ask themselves or talk for mind: shey na like this e go end? LOL! At thousands of feet above sea level, the last thing anyone will wish for is engine trouble. Dangote talked of that terror-filled moment: We were returning from South Africa. The engine problem developed about 138 miles from Luanda (capital of Angola) as we were crossing over the Angolan airspace to Nigeria. The plane was vibrating. It was terrible. It was a very bad experience. The pilot was calm. We were all calm.

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But fortunately for the business magnate, the pilot was able to make an emergency landing at the Antonio Agostinho Neto International Airport, Pointe Noire (PNR/FCPP), Republic of the Congo. Just two minutes after the plane landed, the second engine stopped functioning. Yes, Dangote was that close to death. But he took the whole thing with a calm philosophical mien saying death does not make him apprehensive that when the appointed time comes, that’s it. He stated that instead of getting jittery in these scary circumstances, all he did was to pray to his Creator.

A map showing the southern part of the African continent. I am guessing they flew from South Africa over the South Atlantic Ocean with Namibia to the east before proceeding to enter the continent again via Angola before the private jet started misbehaving and jerking 40,000 feet above sea level.

A map showing the southern part of the African continent. I am guessing they flew from South Africa over the South Atlantic Ocean with Namibia to the east before proceeding to enter the continent again via Angola before the private jet started misbehaving and jerking 40,000 feet above sea level.

THE SECRETS OF DANGOTE’S SUCCESS

Not a few people are intrigued with the stupendous success of Dangote and are understandably curious to know how he did it and learn one or two things from his methods. Dangote has hinged his secrets on these main cardinal points:

FAITH & BELIEF IN GOD:

Although this writer emphatically believes that whatever you believe in is your private issue and your personal business (not the way some Nigerians shove their faiths down the throats of an unwilling audience even though they fail to walk the talk themselves), the deep-rooted importance of faith (or hope) (in anything, Mark Zuckerberg is an atheist billionaire before you get carried away…lol) cannot be underestimated. Born into a devout Muslim family and raised along Islamic tenets, Aliko Dangote never fails to ascribe much of his success to his Creator. Yes, I agree to a great extent, faith is very crucial in pursuing any goal.

FORESIGHT:

One of the very best decisions Dangote ever made was leaving Kano for Lagos. Although at that time, Kano was still a bubbling commercial center and many members of the family felt comfortable doing business there, Dangote knew that the future of business was in Lagos, where he operates today and owns one of the most palatial residences in Africa. In 1977, he followed his late uncle, Usman Amaka Sanusi Dangote to Lagos when he was just 20. He thought the patriarch would oppose the move at first, feeling they might think Lagos life would corrupt him but he had to risk it any way. He said family business was good but you have no independence and one cannot make it much there so he had to map out his own path to greatness, all by himself. Dangote states: ‘Having come from a rich family does not give you an automatic license to riches. You just have to create your own idea and work hard. I have never seen any Nigerian that has really made money from inheritance. It is very, very difficult. And that is why I always encourage my own children to work very hard especially when it comes to making their own money. I am not saying they shouldn’t rely on the fact that yes, they come from a rich home. But sometimes, it can be a great disadvantage. Because there are some certain businesses that you wouldn’t like to do because your name is so and so.

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He also said: ”I did not really inherit anything from my father, apart from maybe two buildings. I had three Benz 911 (10-tonner trucks) which my grandfather bought for me and they were working and he was keeping the money for me at that time. So by the time I came out, I had about N127,000 or so. And then my grandfather also gave me a letter to collect N500,000 as loan to be paid back in two years but there was no interest.’

In an inteview with Forbes in September 2012, he stated: …although I came from a rich home, I did not use my family’s money to reach where I am today.

My people have a saying and it goes thus: ‘Agboju logun fi ara re foshita’ meaning ‘he who depends and relies on inheritance exposes himself to the perils of poverty and squalor.’ That is for all the agbojuloguns.

Dangote also said of family business: ‘Working with the family, you hardly ever succeed because you have other children. You know it is difficult when you come from a large family.’

PASSION FOR SERVICE:

The very interesting with the Dangote story is that, like many other billionaires across the globe, they actually did not set out to be billionaires in the first place. However, they had a burning passion and desire for a dream, service or product. For Bill Gates, it was to place a computer in every house on earth, for M Zuck, it was to ensure more connection for all of humanity, for Adenuga, it was to revolutionize the telecommunication sector and link more people seamlessly while for Dangote it was to do something spectacularly great for his nation by identifying the needs, creating useful products and placing it at the doorsteps of his people. Making money was not initially his principal goal but a deep desire to have a positive and tangible impact on his immediate society. Ideas are everywhere, tap into one today and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Wake up and smell the coffee, forget blood money ritual, it is disgraceful nonsense. Dream big, press on, do something revolutionary for the world and you see unbelievable wealth falling on your laps.

PRUDENCE:

Okay, Mr. Bling Bling, let me quote Dangote here in his own words: ”I do not spend my money any how.” It was a few years ago while readingThe Millionaire Next Door that I really understood the difference between being ‘rich’ and ‘wealthy’. Footballers like Didier Drogba, Lionel Messi (hope he don come out of hiding, Bayern no easy na…lol!) are rich while people like Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Aliko Dangote, Amancio Ortega and Prince Abdulwaleed al-Talal are obscenely wealthy. To get a clearer picture, have you ever wondered why footballers and all the diamond-dangling entertainers are never billionaires and many even end up dead broke after their careers?

Yes, there’s a huge difference between being rich and wealthy. That you are rich does not necessarily make you wealthy but you are obviously rich if you are considered wealthy. Rich people who are usually dependent on regular salaries or wages like footballers spend money anyhow (and unfortunately, those are the ones we see more often in the tabloids but are rarely good examples of sound financial management. Oluwamario Omobalotelli, I hope you are reading this…lol) while billionaires (the truly wealthy) are very careful and frugal with their spendings (although there are rare exceptions like Larry Ellison) and are meticulous accountants (or married to one, research has shown that most wealthy men in the US are married to women who are far better managers of financial resources and assist their hubbies in stabilizing the monetary foundation.

The koko of the tori na for una to watch who you marry. You know the interesting thing? The study also shows that many of these wives are schoolteachers, na hint I give you be that o! LOL!) Dangote is a shrewd businessman who will only splurge his money on what he can afford and is absolutely necessary. To be prudent, watch your choices, select those you walk with (use Mortein to delete the parasites) and be disciplined. Like everyone else on earth, you’ve got 24 hours in a day. Your time starts now…

HARDWORK:

For some strange reasons, many people think that the life of a billionaire is all chocolate and vanilla with no kpof kpof and pior wota but the truth is that the average billionaire (I don’t mean the thieving leaders of Africa o!) is far more hardworking than you are. Yes, there is the cruise on the Caribbean, the skiing in Aspen, the daylong golfing at Akwa Ibom and all-night parties on superyachts but you also conveniently ignore the fact that billionaires do not spend everyday of the year sunbathing in Monaco or getting lap dances in Las Vegas. They work, and they work hard (and smart). Hear Dangote: ‘To start with, I don’t work 12 hours a day. I work at least 18 hours a day. On weekends, I don’t work at all.

If the laziness of some people who dream of billions every second can be converted to energy, it would power a nuclear station. You don’t spend all day in bed (unless you are making money on the bed and I don’t mean ashawo work) pinging, tweeting, gbeborun-ing and offering no useful service to humanity and still complain of ‘poor-verty’. If you are to achieve your dreams, you need to wake up first. Many people want to get something for nothing but in a Universe which abhors total vacuum and loves balance, duality and karma, this is being unrealistic.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT NICHE:

Today you hear of Dangote noodles, Dangote spaghetti, Dangote salt, Dangote sugar, Dangote flour, Dangote cement, Dangote juice and all those brands which all relate to the basic needs of mankind. Dangote said he will never dabble into a business he knows nothing or little about.

Dangote Flour Mills, Calabar, Cross River State.

Dangote Flour Mills, Calabar, Cross River State.

GENEROSITY:

The typical Nigerian will rather curse politicians than give money to charitable causes. For example, if there is an appeal to help raise funds to assist a cancer-stricken fellow, what you see many Nigerians do is to shout ‘Ah! She is looking for just N6 million for the surgery, and our government is spending one billion naira on food. Our politicians can help this victim with just one of their allowances. I pray God will heal you.’ After writing the comment, that’s it! Then that same individual skips the post and goes ahead to spend N3,000 on BIS (Blackberry Internet Subscription) or N5,000 on recharge cards in a month and yet refuses to part away with just N100 for a cancer victim on life support.

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Such a mentality is not for billionaires like Dangote who understand the most important law in the Universe: the Law of Attraction. They know that the more you give out to the Universe (even from your limited resources), the more that will eventually come back to you. Givers never lack. Have you ever asked yourself why billionaires are still the biggest givers on earth, donating huge chunks of their wealth to charity and still remain the richest? It is all about the universal law of attraction. If you remember your secondary school PN Okeke, Abbott, Nelkon & Parker or STAN Physics, you will recollect Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi meaning ‘to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions. You give out, it comes back to you. You hoard, you remain a pauper. Does that ring a bell?

TAKING CALCULATED RISKS:

Most people are comfortable in their present states and would rather die like that than take any form of risk. But the truth be told, the greater the achievements, the greater the risks. Dangote, like Mike Adenuga, is a consummate risk taker. He knows that life is full of many battles, some you win, and some you lose, but the most important thing is not to drop the sword. Fortune favours the bold and courageous. When he came down to Lagos, his biggest fear was failure but he still took the plunge. He said of those early beginnings: ‘I had that fear of being totally on my own because if there is a failure, it will show immediately but if you are with somebody and there’s a little failure, you’d still have a cover up because they’ll be looking at that bigger signboards.’

DANGOTE TODAY:

Like a raging bull in a china shop, Dangote seems unstoppable and it is a matter of time before he dominates the global scene. Right now, he is setting his eyes on one of his most ambitious goals ever: building a refinery and entering the very lucrative oil and gas sector of Africa’s most populous market. This is not the first he would make his foray into the sector. Towards the end of Obasanjo’s second tenure in 2007, Dangote bought the moribund petroleum refineries in Kaduna and Port Harcourt with plans to construct another one with a 300,000 bpd (barrels per day) capacity in Lagos. However, In May 2008. President Yar’adua gave an executive directive clamping down on the sale stating that vital national assets should not be sold off to a few individuals who could hold the entire nation to ransom like those hooded kindappers (you know them na…lol!). However, Dangote was not deterred by and is already making plans to build his own private refinery at a cost of $8 billion.

RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION:

Dangote is a Sunni Muslim and takes his religious beliefs with all seriousness praying five times a day despite his maddening schedule, fasts regularly and has gone for the Holy Pilgrimages repeatedly. Also, because of the fact that Islam prohibits interest-based banking, he is not into the conventional interest-based banking system. He actually opened a bank, named Liberty Bank, but he later closed it down and never re-opened it. He is a solid backer of Islamic banking and personally gives out loans without collecting interest, again, according to the dictates of his faith. He gives hefty financial support to various religious-based institutions (both Islamic and Christian, I don’t know who the traditional worshippers have offended…lol!) and sponsors many on Hajj and Umrah (the Holy Pilgrimages) on a regular basis. During Sallah, he tops it up at his various residences where hundreds of cows are killed for people to consume and merry freely in addition to the foods his company supplies to those fasting throughout the month of Ramadan. However, he does not support extremist ideologies and has expressed his worry and disgust at Boko Haram and other militant groups in the country.

Interesting and Fun Things About Him:

Did You Know He Is Richer Than?

Worth an estimated $16.1 billion USD as at the time of writing this, Dangote is the 43rd richest man on earth and that puts him far ahead of many popular billionaires, some of which are listed as follows:

-RINAT AKHMETOV, Ukraine’s richest man, $15.4 billion. (I sha admire Akhmetov too sha).

-MICHAEL DELL, USA, Chairman/CEO, Dell Computers, $15.3 billion.

-STEVE BALLMER, USA, CEO, Microsoft, $15.2 billion.

-PAUL ALLEN, USA, Microsoft Co-Founder, $15 billion.

-DHANIN CHEARAVANONT and family, richest in Thailand, $14.3 billion.

-SUSANNE KLATTEN, Germany’s richest woman, $14.3 billion.

-LUIS CARLOS SARMIENTO, Colombia’s richest man, $13.9 billion.

-MOHAMMED AL-AMOUDI, Saudi Arabia’s 2nd richest man, $13.5 billion.

-TADASHI YANAI and family, richest in Japan, $15.5 billion.

-MARK ZUCKERBERG, USA, Facebook founder, $13.3 billion.

-HENRY SY and family, richest in the Philippines, $13.2 billion.

-ROBERT KUOK, richest in Malaysia, $12.5 billion.

-MIUCCIA PRADA, Italy’s third richest and owner of Prada fashion label, $12.4 billion.

-RUPERT MURDOCH, USA, Chairman/CEO, News Corp (Fox News, Twentieth Century Fox and The Wall Street Journal, The Sun (United Kingdom), The Times (United Kingdom) and the Sunday Times (UK)), $11.2 billion.

-ERNESTO BERTARELLI, richest person in Switzerland, $11 billion.

-CHARLENE DE-CARVALHO HEINEKEN, richest person in Switzerland, $11 billion.

-ROMAN ABRAMOVICH, Russia, $10.2 billion (Baba Olowo Chelsea force).

-GIORGIO ARMANI, Italy’s fourth richest and fashion designer, $8.5 billion.

-RALPH LAUREN, American fashion designer, $7billion.

-SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Italian media magnate and former prime minister, $6.2 billion.

-RICHARD BRANSON, United Kingdom, Virgin Group, $4.6 billion.

-MALCOLM GLAZER and family, USA, Manchester United FC owner, $4.4 billion.

-STEVEN SPIELBERG, American moviemaker, $3.2 billion.

-DONALD TRUMP, USA, $3.2 billion.(He even trumped Trump upon all the ariwo).

-PATRICE MOTSEPE, South Africa’s only black billionaire and 4th richest, $2.9 billion.

-OPRAH WINFREY, USA, media entrepreneur, $2.8 billion.

-DAVID ROCKEFELLER, SR., USA, oil merchant, $2.7 billion.

-MARK CUBAN, USA, online media tycoon, $2.4 billion.

-PETER THIEL, USA, PayPal co-founder, $1.6 billion. (with all of PayPal’s shakara for Nigerians, shhhooo!)

-MOHAMMED IBRAHIM, United Kingdom (of Mo Ibrahim Foundation), $1.1 billion.

If after going through the list above you still feel Dangote deserves no respect, then I swear ya bad belle no get cure…lol!

HIS MOST HEART-TOUCHING STORY?

When asked of what touched his heart the most, he talked of a time he was called upon to donate for some needy communities who had no water and other basic provisions of life. He gave them a sum of ‘just’ $500,000 and out of that amount, around $200 was taken and given to a woman. Unknown to him, this lady had five children whom she could not afford to send to school and feeding was hell for her family. She took the money (that’s a little over N30,000) and started a small business selling some food on the street. After two years, the woman reported back to them, and Dangote was so thrilled to know that from that little $200, she was able to feed her kids, send all of them school, take care of herself and her husband. This is one story that Dangote said really touched his heart and encouraged him to do even more. You can feel the emotions in his voice as he narrated this particular story.

DANGOTE FOR PRESIDENT?

Well, he has made it known and in very clear terms that he has no business being a politician and has absolutely no intention of joining politics (remember the mistake MKO made mixing up business with politics in an atmosphere charged with power-hungry, carnivorous military cats?). Dangote reminds me of his friend and former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu who made it big alongside Dangote and Adenuga during IBB’s regime. Kalu stated that if not for politics, he would have been the first Igbo billionaire but he went into politics and became poorer. Dangote has learnt from the mistakes of many and he knows politics is not his calling. He stresses this point: ‘We cannot all be the same thing. It is much better for me as a person to run my business because everybody cannot be in business.’ That is what Abiyamo calls ‘minding your business and not being Solo Makinde…lol!’

HIS COUSIN, SAYYU DANTATA:

Remember when Chris Brown came to perform in Nigeria and he was hosted in a Lagos mansion that was so large that Brown was blown away he had to upload the house on Instagram? Yeah, that house belonged to Sayyu Dantata, another silent moneybag and Aliko Dangote’s cousin.

DANGOTE THE SOCIALITE:

This Kano-born rich man believes in working hard and playing hard too. His face is a regular one at selected high-octane weddings and night parties of the richest of the rich in Lagos State where he rolls with other wealthy folks from Victoria Island (Lekki Phase One things), Banana Island, Ikoyi and the rest. Yes, I see you…lol! The guy sure takes time out to catch his fun. Yes, he works hard but hin no go com kill hinsef na, abi? :D His favourite sports is polo, sport of the kings. What were you expecting? Ludo? LOL! Comot dia jooor…lwkmd! He is also a member of the exotic Ikoyi Club, Aquamarine Boat Club and yeah, that reminds me, he recently took delivery of his own water-going vessel, a named Mariya, after his dearest Mum. The boat is quite similar to Nana, the one of oilman Femi Otedola, which he named after his wife. The day I saw Otedola’s own on my way to the South African Embassy moored in the water, I couldn’t close my mouth yeh!

Aliko Dangote's luxury boat.

Aliko Dangote’s luxury boat.

Cool, calm and collected, at an event. I can see some Moet, soft drinks and bottled water on his table. Wait a minute, is that chinchin? Ehehe...lol!

Cool, calm and collected, at an event. I can see some Moet, soft drinks and bottled water on his table. Wait a minute, is that chinchin? Ehehe…lol!

Sports? Dangote is an Arsenal fan but is not interested in buying any club. Mansions? He’s got them all over the globe: USA (where his children reside), United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Zambia, Ghana, South Africa, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and of course, Abuja. He sips fine red wine once in a while and sways his Fulani hips to some cool jazz music. When asked about his favourite music, he responded: ‘It depends on my mood but I like listening to our local music. I love King Sunny Ade. There is nobody in the world that doesn’t like ‘o hear music. I am sure even the late Osama bin Laden (general laughter) even as fanatical as he was, I am sure he was listening to music.’

Wearing 'and co' at a social event.

Wearing ‘and co’ at a social event.

Amazing Quotes from Dangote:

‘I don’t like to boast, but let me tell you something. I was born into money. Both my father’s -from my mother’s side and also from father’s side -they have always had money. So, it’s not that I just came and picked up something from this thing. But it does not mean also in the family that everybody would be rich. I don’t know any of my family members -both from my mother’s side and my father’s side -that has ever had a deal with anybody in the government.’ (Not many people agree with this assertion).

How can agro-industrial businesses modernise?

Aliko Dangote: There is no way you can develop agriculture at 20% interest rates anywhere, even if you grow gold. So the government needs to bring interest rates down to single-digit figures for farmers….you also have to develop storage and give people guaranteed pricing. If there is no guaranteed pricing, you are not encouraging the farmer to grow. …..Dangote is trying to produce 700,000 tonnes of sugar annually over the next four years. We may employ at least 45,000 people to reach this target. That is the only way to create jobs.

-In 1978, before I started making money, the first car I bought was a Mercedes 200 for N5,100, and that time, there was no power steering (general laughter). -While giving a motivational lecture at the Pan African University, Lagos Business School (LBS).

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WHEN ASKED HOW HE FELT BEING THE RICHEST AFRICAN:

-I’ve never even really thought of making it even to the Forbes List. That is to start with, but I am really grateful to God that I am there. You know it is also tough to be there and when you are there, you really really have to make sure you don’t get thrown out of the list (general laughter).

The Dude: In a world where Africa is looked down upon in various areas, Aliko Dangote has sent a powerful message to world by attaining the pinnacle of financial success solely from local enterprises. He ploughs back his earnings and profits in the local communities creating thousands of job opportunities. He is a man that Nigerians are yet to fully appreciate.

The Dude: In a world where Africa is looked down upon in various areas, Aliko Dangote has sent a powerful message to world by attaining the pinnacle of financial success solely from local enterprises. He ploughs back his earnings and profits in the local communities creating thousands of job opportunities and boosting economies. He is a man that Nigerians are yet to fully appreciate.

THE KEY TO HIS SECRETS?

-Hardwork and hardwork. We are a very focused company. Any business I do not understand very well, I don’t go into it at all. And that is really why we are successful.

Inside Dangote's state-of-the-art flour mill in Apapa, Lagos State.

Inside Dangote’s state-of-the-art flour mill in Apapa, Lagos State.

What Dangote Has To Tell You:

‘The problem with our youths today is that they just want to jump and see themselves up there overnight. It doesn’t really happen that way. What you need to do is to be very focused as a person, and be dedicated to whatever it is that you are doing. It is not really good for you to now go and try something and after a month, you just say no, it doesn’t work. You jump into something else. I think you need to be very focused. You do not need to take your job or your profession as a work but as a part of your hobbies. That is when you do it better.

ABOUT NIGERIAN GRADUATES COMING INTO THE LABOUR MARKET WITHOUT JOBS

It is true there are very few people that are offering jobs but I know that Nigeria too is a place where people also want to be their own bosses. And that is what I keep saying: if there is enough power, today you will see about 60% of young graduates, they are very creative, they can start their own businesses and can even succeed better than working for others. Mr. Dangote believes the government should create an enabling environment and he places a lot of emphasis on steady production and supply of electricity.

A serene view of Dangote Sugar Refinery in Numan, Adamawa State.

A serene view of Dangote Sugar Refinery in Numan, Adamawa State.

-Always know that once there is life there is hope. And you can also make it to the top. In fact, you guys even have a better future than us because you are well-educated and not only that, I mean today, talking of IT, which makes things a lot easier. When we were growing up, there was even no mobile phone at all but right now, you have Facebook, you have Twitter. Everything is there are your fingertips. What you need (for those studying abroad) is to also come back home and contribute your own quota. If you do not come back and contribute, Africa will never grow.

-If you want to be the next Dangote, you need to have a large heart, be honest, have a very good name and make sure that you tell yourself and believe that nothing is impossible. You need a bit of luck too and hardwork is very important.

At this point, the words of a former US President, Woodrow Wilson comes to mind, piercing it like an arrow flying through the chilly wind: ‘All big men are dreamers; they see things in a soft haze of spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let our dreams die, but others nourish and protect them through bad days till they bring them to sunshine and light, which always come to those who sincerely believe their dreams will come true.

Dangote Sugar Refinery, Numan, Adamawa State.

Dangote Sugar Refinery, Numan, Adamawa State.

-Money is something that is really funny. You can have it today and it might not be there tomorrow. You really need to respect it. You just don’t spend it anyhow, and I do not really spend my money anyhow. However, the most expensive ‘toy’ that I have ever bought is my aircraft which cost me about $50 million. -ALIKO DANGOTE

Stepping out in style. He paid a princely sum of $50 for his Canada-made Bombardier Global Express XRS private jet in 2010 for his 53rd birthday. Talk of spoiling yourself silly.

Stepping out in style. He paid a princely sum of $50 million for his Canada-made Bombardier Global Express XRS private jet in 2010 for his 53rd birthday. Talk of spoiling yourself silly.

Chopping the life of his head: Dangote treats himself to a plateful of barbequed meat (suya) and some fresh juice. That looks to me like Dansa juice o, abi na my eyes ni....hehehe! LOL!

Chopping the life of his head: Dangote treats himself to a plateful of barbequed meat (suya) and some fresh juice. That looks to me like Dansa juice o, abi na my eyes ni….hehehe! LOL!

-NIGERIANS ARE DEPENDENT ON HIM: One thing that sets Dangote aside from many other tycoons is that he ploughs back his profits into the local economy for expansion and to create more employment opportunities in the process. Like or hate this titan of African economic history, there are three features that have endeared millions of Nigerians to his products: high-quality, affordability and an unbridled sense of patriotism. About 25,000 Nigerians are employed in his Group and many more are indirectly employed. There is virtually no aspect of a Nigerian’s life that Dangote is not involved. You drink Coke? He supplied the sugar. You did wedding? The jollof rice was cooked with his salt. You are launching a new house in Magodo Estate? Na Dangote cement. His products are as ubiquitous as ants.

Billionaires and calculators sha....lol!

Billionaires and calculators sha….lol! He reminds me of Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world with his plastic calculator wristwatch. You remember that type that shoemakers use in Nigeria, yes, usually black in colour, yes, that’s the type….lol!

-CRITICISM:

Like every other capitalist moneybag, Dangote is the subject of vociferous criticism from many quarters. From competitors who lost out in the hard tussles of the business world to frustrated unemployed Nigerian youths who believe that a Dangote is not equal to an industrial revolution to the poor woman whose kid was crushed to death by one of his 10,000 trucks, Dangote has learnt to cope with the endless barrage of criticism with a philosophical calm, and he also defends himself whenever the opportunity for such arises. Some also believe that he is of the priviledged 1% who feed fat on the nation’s riches and entrench corruption. But ever vocal and not reclusive like his billionaire Yoruba friend, Mike Adenuga, Dangote rattles off his responses to critics that you wonder if he has been preprogrammed to reply.

Inside Dansa Foods.

Inside Dansa Foods Processing Company. Here, he makes six flavours of fruit juices, three varieties of pasteurized milk, four flavours of flavoured milk, table water, four flavours of yoghurt drink, still water and also processes export quality gum arabic products. Dangote is also into steel and telecommunications.

ON BEING A MONOPOLIST:

Well, you see, the problem is question is not about Dangote having monopoly. Dangote does not really have any monopoly. The difference is that we are a company that believes greatly in Nigeria and goes a long way to invest in Nigeria while others are watching and it gets to a point when people will be saying ah monopoly. There is nothing that we are producing that others are not producing, be it flour or cement, the rules are the same, it is a fair playing ground and the government will always introduce rules and regulations that affects Dangote and even the competitors. It looks like a monopoly but it is not. If you do not invest, you cannot participate. If you are a Chinese company and decide to come into the industry today, there is nothing we can do. It is just because of the sheer size of the company that people will shout ‘ah, Dangote!’.

Inside Dangote Sugar Refinery, Numan, Adamawa State.

Inside Dangote Sugar Refinery, Numan, Adamawa State.

-THE DANGOTE GROUP & TEAM

In addition to hiring the best brains from various backgrounds, Dangote also makes use ultramodern technology in his companies.

In addition to hiring the best brains from various backgrounds, Dangote also makes use of ultramodern technology in his companies.

In order to ensure that the Dangote brand stays on top at all times, he ensures that he hires the very best brains and ties them down with irresistible paychecks. He is also not a tribalist or an ethnic fanatic like many of his compatriots. His chief operating officer is a Yoruba Christian while those in charge of his sugar and industries sections are Ibo females and the executive director of his cement wing is from the South-South. He also has a number of able and capable family members in the fold (he says they are not more than 4 or 5 including him), in addition to expatriates from India and Europe.

Dangote Cement Factory, Obajana, Kogi State, one of the largest in the world. Dangote aims to be the number one cement maker on earth.

Dangote Cement Factory, Obajana, Kogi State, the factory is fully-automated and is one of the largest in the world. Dangote aims to be the number one cement maker on earth. In Obajana, he has built schools and roads for the local community as part of his company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Another view of the Obajana Cement Factory.

Another view of the Obajana Cement Factory. Dangote generates all the electricity that he makes use of in his industries all by himself without depending on the epileptic national power grid. He has even stated that if PHCN were to recover from the perennial epilepsy, he will still not make use of their power simply because he generates it at his own industries at an even cheaper rate.

He is just about competence, performance and your ability to deliver. That’s the hallmark of every successful businessman, they are not extremists and care not about your colour, race, language or tribe. In the book, Entrepreneurship in Africa: A Study of Successes (see references)his company is described thus:

‘At the manufacturing facilities of the Dangote Group in Lagos, you will see young people at work with dignity and pride, state-of-the-art technology , and high-quality products that would be competitive anywhere. Africa’s success is inextricably linked to the successes of businesses such as the Dangote Group. They fuel Africa’s growth. They are Africa’s engines.’

Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Maybe that's why Dangote has a sweet mouth...lol!

Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Maybe that’s why Dangote has a sweet mouth…lol!

Gbam! That’s nothing but the plain truth. Take it or leave it. The Group is multipronged and has the following subsidiaries:

The Dangote Cement Factory at Ibese, Ogun State. It cost Dangote $1 billion USD (N158 billion naira).

The Dangote Cement Factory at Ibese, Ogun State. It cost Dangote $1 billion USD (N158 billion naira).

-Dangote Foods Company: Noodles, rice, bottled water (Mowa), pasteurized milk (Ziza), iodized salt, macaroni/spaghetti, fruit juices (Dansa), bread and tomato paste.

-Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc.

-Dangote Cement/Obajana Cement Plc/Benue Cement Company (BCC)

-Dangote Flour Mills Plc. (Kano, Ilorin, Calabar)

-Dangote Salt Company/National Salt Company of Nigeria Plc.

-Dangote Transport & Leasing Company

-Dangote Pasta Limited

-Dangote Sugar Processing Company

-Dangote Agro-Sacks Company

-Nasal Insurance Company

-Alsan Insurance Company

-Blue Star Services Company (oil and gas)

-Dangote Properties and Leasing Company (premium real estate)

-Greenview Development Company Limited (a clearing and forwarding entity which has the task of decongesting Apapa Port, Lagos till 2031).

-Dangote Ginnery and Textile Mills Limited

“[Nigerians] can be even bigger than me, ” he said “you just have to believe that yes, there is a future in this country of ours and I can tell you right now, I don’t believe we have even started doing anything in Nigeria because the opportunities are so enormous. I don’t even know where to start.

“Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.” -ALHAJI ALIKO DANGOTE.

He says Nigeria is the best kept investment secret in the world and there is no place on earth where you can make as much money as Nigeria. I agree.

SIMPLY MAJESTIC! Some of the buildings in the control of his real estate company.

SIMPLY MAJESTIC! Some of the buildings in the control of his real estate company.

Another view of the luxuriant buildings under his real estate company.

Another view of the luxuriant buildings under his real estate company.

Inside Dangote Sugar Refinery, Apapa, Lagos State.

Inside Dangote Sugar Refinery, Apapa, Lagos State.

Having a hearty laugh with friends at Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.

Having a hearty laugh with friends at Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.

AFRICAN NATIONS: Aliko Dangote is not limiting his influence to Nigeria but all over Africa and the following nations are where he has successfully made solid in-roads. Were you thinking I said this guy will soon become the richest man in the world for nothing?

The Boss in his office with all the trappings of luxury: leather chair and designer suits.

The Boss in his office with all the trappings of luxury: leather chair, exotic tables and designer suits.

1-Algeria

2-Ghana

3-Senegal (In 2011, he bought 100,000 acres of land for his sugar ambitions. Isn’t that sweet?!)

4-Sierra Leone

5-Cameroon

6-Tanzania

7-Gabon

8-Sao Tome and Principe

9-Congo Republic

10-South Africa

11-Uganda

12-Democratic Republic of Congo

13-Ivory Coast

14- Zambia

15-Togo

16-Benin

17-Liberia

18-Ethiopia

19-Guinea

20-Mali

21-The Gambia

22-Equatorial Guinea

All this in addition to the fact that he has plans of expanding into and taking over the Asian (his subsidiaries, Dangote Industries Senegal and Dangote Industries Zambia have already entered into a $228 million contract with Sinoma International Engineering of China) and European markets. The world may be looking at the very first trillionaire, right from Africa. That’s not too tall a dream. Afterall, the richest man of all time, Mansa Kankan Musa (1280-1331), King of the ancient Mali Empire, came from the same continent. The 14th-century king amassed a fortune of $400 billion.

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Aliko Dangote meets with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Aliko Dangote meets with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Dangote meets President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.

Dangote meets President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.

-APPOINTMENTS, AWARDS AND LAURELS:

The following are just a few:

-1998: Zik Prize for Leadership in Business management.

-1999: Sir Ahmadu Bello International Award.

-2002: Fellow, Lagos State Polytechnic.

-2002: Honorary Doctorate Degree (Science), University of Calabar, Cross River

-2011: African Businessman of the Year.

-2011: Honoured by President Goodluck Jonathan with the second highest national honour in Nigeria, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), the very first time someone not in government will get the title. He was initially conferred with Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) award. Did I hear you asking when you will also be given a national honour? Soon dear, very soon.

Wealth meets power. Dangote graciously receiving the GCON.

Wealth meets power. Dangote graciously receiving the GCON.

-President, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

On the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Behind in green veil is his ever-supportive daughter, Halima.

On the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Behind in green veil is his ever-supportive daughter, Halima.

-Appointed Pioneer Chancellor, Alhassan Dantata University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano (formerly Kano State University of Science and Technology), March, 2011. At the event, he promised to build a well-equipped N400 million hostel for 500 students, provide scholarships and offer jobs at his company to the best students. He also stated: “I’m overwhelmed and humbled by this honour conferred on me. I know that our region is backward in education. This is a great challenge to me and to everybody. I will work diligently to transform this University, to make it compete with any other university in the world in on infrastructure and academic performance.”

With the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.

With the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.

-DANGOTE’S DONATIONS & PHILANTHROPY

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 The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.

-Albert Einstein, Physicist. 

‘Every year, I am mandated to give 2.5% of not what I made but of all my wealth but that is religious obligation. In addition to that, I do other philanthropic activities to fight poverty, provide education, improve the health sector and the environment. If I am to give away all my wealth, it will be to fight poverty.’ -ALIKO DANGOTE, Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, September, 2012.

I have decided to lump both the money he gave out to his politician paddies (and I’m not referring to Paddy Adenuga…lol!) and to charity because I see both as the same thing. Both the orphans he gave money and the politicians can both be described as needy…LMAO! Shikena. Under Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan, Dangote was very prominent on the fundraising committees. I ask you, won’t you do the same? We are talking of the richest black guy in the Solar System :)

With his home state Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

With his home state Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso (spelling this governor’s name na wah sef, I am always writing Kwankwaso first, me go shorten am to KwaKwa fa!).

Speaking in Kano State.

Speaking in Kano State.

Dangote Volunteers distributing relief materials to victims of flood in Kogi State.

Dangote Volunteers distributing relief materials to victims of flood in Kogi State.

At the Palace of the Emir of Kano with the Bill Gates Foundation on a support drive for immunization.

At the Palace of the Emir of Kano with the Bill Gates Foundation on a support drive for immunization.

The currencies are in Nigerian naira. 158 Nigerian naira = $1 And please note, these are SOME of the countless donations he has made:

-N120 million naira: For President Olusegun Obasanjo’s election campaign, 1998. (A total of N356million was raised that day during the fundraising dinner).

-N1 billion naira: Still on Baba Iyabo, second term campaign, 2003.

-Private jet: Yes ke, still on Baba Iyabo, second term campaign, 2003.

-Private jet: President Yar’adua’s campaign, 2007.

-N201 million naira: For Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidential Library.

-N250 million: Obasanjo/Atiku Presidential Campaign Fund, 2003.

-N1 billion naira worth of cement: For the construction of national headquarters of the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory in November 2008.

-N1 billion: Former First Lady, Turai Yar’adua’s International Cancer Care Center, ICCC (wateva happened to it gan sef).

-N5 million: Iyin-Ekiti Appeal Fund, Ekiti State.

-N200 million: Victims of religious crises, Nigeria.

-N100 million worth of relief materials: Drought and famine victims, Niger Republic.

-N100 million: Sokoto State flood victims.

-N50 million: Jigawa State flood victims.

-N355 million: Pakistan flood victims.

-N150 million: Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, 2009.

-$326 million (USD): Lagos State Trust Fund, 2011.

-Poverty Eradication and Empowerment Scheme: In Kano State alone, over 60,000 women and over 15,000 men have benefitted from this scheme in which people are given funds to start off their small and medium-scale enterprises. And so many more….

Thank you so much for your time! Stay tuned to Abiyamo for more. And if you really enjoyed this, why not support us with a LIKE on our Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/Abiyamo

For those who wish to purchase Dangote’s biography (a fantastic and very affordable book, I tell you!) talked about earlier on, just fire a mail directly to the author: moshoodfayemiwo@gmail.com

Also, I want you to use this opportunity to thank our Esteemed Readers who have been sending very useful materials to us for research purposes. Abiyamo appreciates you greatly. Please, if you also have very useful information, material or any other resource on Aliko Dangote and you want to share with us for the sake of posterity, kindly send to:

info@abiyamo.com

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CREDIT: ABIYAMO.COM