Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Barley two weeks after donating 150 cars to the Nigeria Police, the Aliko Dangote Foundation, in yet another philanthropic gesture, Monday launched the Dangote Village built for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The Dangote Village in Maiduguri is a self-sufficient set of 200 housing units worth N2 billion, with facilities including, school, hospital and irrigation as well as poultry farms, among others, to enable the occupants eke living.
The foundation also gave each of the beneficiaries N100,000 to start a new life.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Chairman of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said about N7 billion had been donated to support displaced persons affected by the Boko Haram crisis in the North-east.
Aside the N100,000 to start a new life, Dangote also pledged that the Foundation would take care of teachers’ emolument for five years as well as share in the burden of the ongoing educational revolution launched by the governor.
Dangote commended the governor, saying he had been able to run the state efficiently and pay salaries despite the security challenges.
A visibly elated Governor Kashim Shettima said the intervention was unprecedented and gargantuan by a single company, describing the Aliko Dangote Foundation as the fourth arm of government in the state.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony Monday, Shettima reminded his audience that the Dangote Group was the single largest employer of labour outside government in Nigeria.
“In every clime and in every dispensation, there are three layers of governments: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. I dare to add that the fourth layer in Borno State is the Aliko Dangote Foundation,” the governor said, adding: “For the past seven years the Foundation has been consistent and hearkening to the yearnings and aspirations of people of the state.”
He said the Dangote Village provided by the Foundation, though very massive, is a ‘tip of the iceberg’ compared to what it had done to support humanitarian relief in the troubled region.
“When Aliko Dangote came in 2016, he quickly pledged N2billion. We requested that half of the money should be used to supplying building materials and lo and behold within the span of two weeks all the materials were ready,” he added.
He thanked the Foundation and all other donors, saying Borno State was open for investors as it was more peaceful than Lagos and Abuja.
Also speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Professor Baba Umara, said 95 per cent of the beneficiaries were widows whose husbands had been killed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
Umara, who is also the chairman of the distribution committee for the new Dangote Village, said the criterion for allocating a flat to the beneficiaries was a widow and with no fewer than five children.
While commending Dangote, he said the reconstruction effort was now on and that the infrastructural deficit was still huge.
He said the European Union, United Nations and World Bank had estimated that the infrastructural deficit caused by the insurgency in Borno State alone was around $6.9 billion and expressed optimism that with the kind of support from the likes of Aliko Dangote Foundation, the state would bounce back to normal before 2020.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Hajiya Bawa Kolo, expressed her agency’s appreciation to the Foundation on behalf of the (IDPs).
She commended the Foundation and assured the people that only deserving persons would benefit from the village facilities.
Ten beneficiaries were selected for symbolic presentation of certificates of occupancy.
Speaking, the Managing Director/CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, said the Foundation would not rest on its oars to support the victims of insurgency.
She said the Foundation had earlier during Ramadan, distributed food items, including rice, sugar, salt, spaghetti, semolina, wheat meal, maize and millet to the IDPs.
She said the philanthropic exercise was meant to complement the effort of both state and federal governments.
One of the beneficiaries, Hajara Ibrahim 26, a widow, commended Dangote, adding that since her husband, Sani Abubakar, was killed a year ago by the Boko Haram terrorists, it had been very difficult to cater for the needs of her three children and six orphans.
Another beneficiary, Yagana Adamu 39, a widow, said the new village provided by Dangote would help her and her seven children to start life again.