Alhaji Aliko Dangote
Attributes success to Jonathan’s policies
By Michael Olugbode
Dangote Group is now worth $21 billion, up from $4 million a couple of years ago when it was incorporated.
Business mogul, Aliko Dangote, who disclosed this after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan in Nairobi, Kenya, attributed his achievements as the richest man in Africa and 25th richest man on earth to the favourable policies of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Still basking in the euphoria of his signing of a deal to build a refinery in Nigeria, Dangote gave kudos to the reforms carried out by the federal government in the banking sector, saying this had made it possible for Nigerian banks to be stable and strong and for investors to access huge fund locally at reasonable interest rates to implement projects.
“In December 2003, our production of cement was 1.8 million tons, but today in Nigeria, we have 28.5 million tons and by next year, we are going to have 39 million tons. You can actually see the massive work and dramatic turn of event. I want to tell you what the President has been doing in Nigeria. He is very humble and may not want to sing about what he has been doing.
“I will tell you what he has been doing to Nigerians and to some of us who are in business in Nigeria. We are very grateful for some of the policies he has introduced. As you all know, without the good policies of government, there is no way a person like me from the big town like Kano can find himself to be the 25th richest person on earth.
“Without the policies of Mr President and also making sure that yes, there is consistency in the policies of government, this could not actually have happened. If government has bad policies, the whole economy will crumble and if they have good policies, people will be able to prosper.That is what it is now.”
Dangote noted that it was a tradition for business men in Africa to rely on foreign banks, who he described as good but lacking in understanding of local issues and problems, necessitating that "the only way out is to strengthen the local banks and that is what his Excellency did."
“Apart from having the banks recapitalised, when there were issues in the banks, Mr President came in and empowered the banks and we now have very strong banks.
The $3.3 billion that we raised, over 90 per cent of the money was from the Nigerian Banks and some of them at low rate. It is from the banks’ dollar reserves that they gave us $2.8 billion out of the $3.3 billion at 6 per cent interest rate. Really, Mr President, you have done quite a lot because, before now, I remember when we built the cement plant that we are talking about. At a point, we actually borrowed money and we were paying 42 per cent interest rate.
“From 2004 to 2006, by the time we finished the factory, on interest rate alone, we paid $210 million. So, this is something that this government had done which really we need to come out and tell the people that this is what our government is doing,’’ he said.
Dangote, who said the President had also approved some backward integration policies for sugar, rice, cassava and palm oil, added that his conglomerate is investing $2 billion on sugar manufacturing in the country which will generate about 750,000 job opportunities
Dangote said the investment will also see an end to the over 1.8 million tons of raw sugar been imported to the country annually.
Further applauding the Jonathan administration for its economic empowerment of Nigerians, Dangote said he was reliably informed by an aircraft manufacturer that Nigeria is now the second highest private jet market in the world after the US.
“Without empowerment, nobody can afford to go and buy aircraft. This is to tell you how well Nigerians are doing,’’ he said.