By Chidiebere Nwobodo
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”.
— Albert Pike
We were all born humans. We ascend Olympian height of humanity when we transcend from just being humans to humanitarians. And humanitarianism is a passionate idealism rooted in keen sense of empathy, because compassion is the springboard of altruism. Life becomes literally meaningless when humanity is sacrificed at the altar of cupidity and avarice.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote is famed for being a foremost industrialist, paragon of entrepreneurship and epitome of philanthropy. Apart from his towering profile as the richest man in Africa and biggest employer of labor, this quintessential investor is also renowned as a hallmark of philanthropy. His philanthropic milestones via Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) is not only legendary and exemplary but unparalleled.
Inspired by his voracity for philanthropy as a man with a large heart of gold, who understands that wealth without purpose is a liability, in 1994, floated Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). This platform was initiated with sole aim to give back to the society, in the noble quest to contribute his own quota towards making the world a better place.
Since this Foundation debuted, it has not only blazed a trail in the annal of philanthropy cum charity, it has redefined standard and become a benchmark for committed passion for philanthropic gestures and charity outreaches. Alhaji Aliko Dangote has always risen to the occasion whenever needs of philanthropic interventions arose, especially in Nigeria and neighboring countries.
Let us take off from security. The biggest challenge facing Nigeria today is debilitating insecurity ravaging and savaging nooks and crannies of this country. Stepping out of his private sector cloak, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has contributed immensely towards national peace, unity and security, because he understands that peace and security are intertwined—hardly inseparable from one another.
He is founding member of National Peace Committee headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd). Every keen observer of developments in our polity can attest to the landmark nationalistic and statesmanship roles this Committee has played (still playing) to pull the country from the brinks and stabilise it, whenever it starts teetering towards crescendo of crisis.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote via his Foundation, ADF, has so far donated more than 150 fully equipped operational vehicles to the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), to help in curbing crime and criminality. In the same vain, Dangote Cement Plc—a subsidiary of Dangote Group, has equally supported Lagos and Ogun Security Trust Funds, respectively, through a combined donation of 60 fully kitted patrol vehicles.
Beyond donations of operational vehicles to security agencies and construction of 200 housing units worth N2 billion for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno State, Dangote Industries Limited, has single-handedly created over 700,000 direct and indirect jobs. In this sense, employment is one of the pathways to peace and security. The Foundation in partnership with Bank of Industry (BOI), set up a N10 billion MSMEs Fund to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Until teeming youths are gainfully engaged in productive ventures, they will remain destructive vessels for violence and brigandage. This is the philosophy driving Dangote Group’s humongous investments in Nigeria, and one of the reasons Alhaji Aliko Dangote frowns at over-dependence on importation because it kills local industries, impede economic growth, renders our youths jobless and enables insecurity.
Economic stability of a nation is directly proportional to its political stability—it is vice versa.
Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) has made a visible mark in the educational sector; the biggest private-sector intervention in the country. The Foundation has constructed (still building) the following projects: N1.2 billion Dangote Business School, Bayero University, Kano; N1.2 billion dormitories in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; construction of dormitories in Crescent University, Ogun State; Aliko Dangote Complex, University of Ibadan Business School, Oyo State; Students’ dormitories at Ambrose Alli University, Edo State, etcetera.
Aliko Dangote Foundation’s (ADF) support for education is anchored on this school of thought that funding for university education should not be left for government alone. Private sector has a role to play, like what is obtainable in developed world. It is not ironic that topmost tertiary institutions in the world have largest endowment funds—mostly from private companies.
Take for instance, The Harvard University Endowment Fund is the largest, globally, at $40.9 billion dollars. Yale University is followed with an endowment fund worth $30 billion dollars—as at 2019. Stanford University comes third with $27.7 billion dollars; enter Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with $17.4 billion dollars endowment. Private-sector funding is one of the factors these Ivy League institutions remain highly sort for by the rest of the world.
Flip to the chapter of sports. Alhaji Aliko Dangote via ADF, has paced the stage in the development of sports and its corresponding activities in Nigeria. ADF has enormously supported Nigerian Premiership League (NPL) through grants and adverts. Any sports enthusiast knowns how fanatical Dangote is, when it comes to football. He has never hidden his eagerness towards supporting the National Team—Super Eagles.
Aliko Dangote Foundation took over MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, in order to give the edifice benefiting look, through renovation and upgrade of the sporting facility to international standard. One million dollars was committed to this project. The African richest man understands that by investing in sports, the nation can kill three birds with one stone.
Football is one of the major unifying force in Nigeria today. When Super Eagles is playing, no one remembers who is Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo—everyone patriotically embraces Nigeria. It is repeated when big European clubs are playing—for example, Chelsea FC, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid or Arsenal FC—Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s favorite club. You can see Yoruba, Ijaw and Hausa wearing the same jerseys; supporting the same club. Sports is a universal religion.
Sports creates jobs, impacts the economy and uplifts mood of the nation. As an avid job creator and entrepreneur, Dangote takes development of sports seriously. It is estimated that averagely and annually, English Premiership contribute cumulatively £7.6 billion pounds to the economy of United Kingdom (UK).
La Liga, Spanish League, contributes €15. 7 billion euros, seasonally, with 185,000 jobs created in the economy of Spain. Imagine what happens if other private-sector players join Dangote to replicate this milestones in Nigeria.
Aliko Dangote Foundation has also carved a niche in the health sector through its philanthropic initiatives. I can remember vividly when Ebola epidemic broke out in Africa, ADF made a humongous donation of $3 million dollars to support African Union’s intervention against Ebola in West Africa. It also complimented Nigeria’s government efforts to curtail the disease through donation of funds and medical equipment.
ADF has been at the forefront of campaigning against polio and malaria in Nigeria and Africa for over a decade. Aliko Dangote Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined forces with governments—both federal and state, to see that polio was eradicated in Nigeria. ADF built several Primary Health Centers (PHCs) across the country to achieve this United Nations objective. 220 units of boreholes have been constructed to give access to potable water to rural dwellers.
When Covid-19 pandemic ducked on our shores, Alhaji Aliko Dangote rose to the occasion. He led private sector support via CACOVID Committee that provided much-needed succor to the masses through food palliatives and medical equipment cum vaccines. CACOVID Committee distributed N23 billion worth of food palliatives to state governments, for onward sharing to individuals and families across the country.
Aliko Dangote Foundation provided a testing lab in Kano, with capacity for 1000 daily tests—including supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical consumables. The Foundation donated 10 ambulances and 2 cars for rapid response team in Kano. Apart from supporting the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the Foundation sponsored the testing of over 9000 Nigerian returnees at the airports, during airspace shutdown orchestrated by lockdown.
In furtherance of his philanthropic strides, Aliko Dangote Foundation launched its Integrated Nutrition Program (ADFIN). In 2017, Alhaji Aliko Dangote announced the then new flagship program for the Foundation worth $100 million dollars. In the words of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou: “by investing in nutrition, we aim to directly improve the lives of Nigerian families and to empower our citizens to reach their full potential.”
Truly, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has etched his name in the hall of fame when it comes to philanthropy cum charity.