Multi billion naira investor and high profile entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote has years been in the news for the right reasons.
If the man is not signing an MOU for the establishment of industrial plants, then he is commissioning a multi- billion dollar factory that would impact positively on the lives of millions of people or extending branches of his concerns to new sites across the African continent.
This would suffice if one would overlook other noble engagements like philanthropy, lectures on ideas that would move the world and receipts of various awards and honours across the globe.
He has in the testimony of many remained unblemished and consistently projected a positive image that he has come to be regarded as the by word for success.
It was surprising therefore when a group of who identified themselves as belonging to a coalition of northern youth groups issued what they called a quit notice to Igbo residing in the northern part of Nigeria and a reaction branding the youths as unemployed said to be from Dangote found a space online.
This to the discerning would come as queer for those who know the multi billionaire as his approach to issues and people has never been contemptible but always seeking to apply his resources and ideas to the betterment of the masses.
Unfortunately, before the source of the comment could be ascertained, the youths without restraint swallowed what they saw an a challenge to their position and seeing the attribution to Africa’s richest man, saw what they thought would be an opportunity that would put them on the same pedestal with him and carelessly offered a knee jerk reaction calling the industrialist all sorts of names.
As it was later made clear that the comment did not emanate from the billionaire business man the youths retreated but not long after that allegations of bribery surfaced at the kano State House of Assembly and once again, the name of the industrialist was dragged into the matter.
The Kano Assembly had earlier this year, constituted a committee to probe allegations of financial impropriety on the emir of Kano but due to interventions in certain quarters, the House of Assembly suspended the idea.
Those who did not like this twist and were baying for the blood of the emir felt pained so reasons must be invented to explain the failure of the plot to remove the emir which they were so sure would fly.
And in order to cook up a believable story to a gullible audience by these wicked souls whom prey on the ignorance of many, a man of enormous means would have to be included in the story to suggest financial inducement and that was how the name of Dangote once again came up.
Looking at the timing of the two attempts to smear the well earned reputation and integrity of the industrial once can easily conclude that it couldn’t have been a mere coincidence.
But whatever the motive for the attempts, one must consider the greater good of the society to appeal to conscience and logical reasoning on the path of those who have either decided to take this unworthy path and those who have allowed themselves to be used by them.
Dangote is by no means a man whose profile does not lend to easy caricaturing and mudslinging as he has right from childhood, distinguished himself with uncommon virtues that have propelled him to become what he is today.
That he is today the richest man in Africa, in a continent where despots sit on the treasuries of their countries and appropriate same without shame speaks volume about a man who had succeeded on sheer personal enterprise.
Dangote rose from the nadir by the combination of a rare spirit of enterprise, hard work and the blessings of God. That was how from the little amount he borrowed from his uncle to start a business, he dared the odds a northerner faces doing business in the southern part of the country and came to Lagos to sell his wares and the rest as they say is history.
The consistency in retaining the enterprise coupled with the grace to improve with every renewed effort redefined him as an entrepreneur with a clear sense of vision, uncommon ideas, resilience and the doggedness to succeed.
The result is the vast enterprises he has established across not just in Nigeria but spread across the countries in Africa climbing from the humble trade in commodities to production as well as oil and gas.
His knack for managing human and material resources is also demonstrated in the fact that while the underbellies of most business are exposed by the slightest challenge which could come in form of change in government policies, political instability and others, the Dangote empire has remained resilient to challenges and has grown bigger with each passing day.
Apart from the vast enterprises on ground, Dangote is investing a whopping $16 billion in new projects and existing cement plants across Africa between 2015 and 2018 and is simultaneously setting up new cement plants and terminals across 16 African countries, including Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia.
The company’s cement plant in Tanzania has a capacity for a 2.5 Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MMTPA) Dangote Cement plant while the one in Mugher District in Ethiopia would create direct employment for about 2, 000 people in the main plant operations and logistics with a fleet of about 600 trucks, as well as over 5, 000 indirect jobs.
It is not easy to diminish such a man through mere media manipulations as he stands above scandals and storms as he has become a label for success and enterprises and a model for redefining the economic landscape of Nigeria.
Through his intervention, millions of jobs have been created in the industries, factories, administration, transport and well as other third party concerns.
All these attempts point to envy and jealously and the fact that those who envy Dangote’s continuous rise in the business sector where he has diligently prosecuted all his vision and transformed his dreams into realities are out to fight him through the back door.
But then it will not be out of place to caution the man himself to avoid falling into the trap of taking these attempts seriously due to the pressure his well wishers would have mounted on him to show solidarity.
The Africa’s richest man must ignore these charlatans and not bother to dignify them with his time as every second of his time is capable of wiping unemployment from one family.
Luckily others are already taking up the gauntlet for the man. A coalition under the auspices of Joint Northern Youth Forum, has come out to condemn and has described as disrespectful the manner the Coalition of Northern Youth responded to the unconfirmed remark wrongly attributed to the billionaire.
Another writer, Okanga Agila has also done the same. One cannot help but agree with them when they said that it is ironical that a group that professes to be promoting Northern interest would insult such a prominent son of the North who provided the highest number of job opportunities in the history of the region.
Odoma writes from Abuja.
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