Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that it was a night of honour for staff of Dangote Industries Limited as they were rewarded for loyalty and long service to the company
In the current era of the New Economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution, longevity in service is a rarity among the Millennials all over the world. However, when Dangote Industries Limited, Nigeria’s top manufacturing conglomerate recently hosted some of its deserving staff for their loyalty, dedication and long service, there were vital lessons for the present workforce, emerging class and for all.
It was a night of mixed emotions at The Podium in Lekki, Lagos, venue of the Dangote Industries Limited (DIL)’s long service award ceremony for 172 deserving staff; out of which 12 individuals were honoured post-humously.
For the lower cadre staff among the awardees, it was a golden opportunity for the management of the organisation to openly acknowledge their long years of hard work, determination in service and loyalty.
To the middle level management awardees, the event evoked a deep sense of belonging and achievement in seeing their long years of commitment and service to DIL showcased in the geometric rise of the company from a trading concern in 1981 to become a huge conglomerate in less than four decades.
However, regarding the top management awardees, the recognition triggered a sense of pride at the successful outcome of their years of policies, processes and positive decisions targeted at transforming the company to an organisation, which has become Nigeria’s most admired brand for the past consecutive years (2018 – 2019) and Africa’s most admired brand for the same period.
Meanwhile, to the families, friends and colleagues of the awardees, and all the employees group-wide, the ceremony generated a mutual sense of belonging and collective joy in being part of a success story which Dangote has become.
Lastly, to the man who sits at the top of the pyramid, Aliko Dangote, his calm mien could barely conceal the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth while he delivered his keynote address, and his feeling of paternal pride and personal satisfaction was obvious to the discerning. Here was a man worth celebrating; a man who has translated his vision into actions which brought those gathered at the award ceremony together in a close-knit family, united by focus, a sense of purpose and a successful brand.
Setting the tone for the night of pomp and gaiety on the red carpet, the Group Chief Human Resources Officer, DIL, Mr. Usen Udoh, said, “It has been five years of tremendous growth, five years of adventure and probably one of the happiest days in Dangote. I am just five years in the organisation. I am not an awardee but I am part of the organising committee.
“My goodwill message to the awardees is that, first of all we are very lucky to be led by somebody whose vision has not only transformed the landscape, but has placed our company on the global map. He has also provided the light that has given direction, guidance and motivation to a large number of people.
“The awardees today are very lucky because they belong to probably the fastest growing conglomerate in the world. Congratulations to all the awardees, congratulations to their families, and a special thank you to our President, Alhaji Aliko Dangote GCON and to the leadership that has made this happen.
“The employees and not just the awardees would be extremely pleased at what has happened. I also thank my organising committee which has worked relentlessly in the last three months. This is probably going to be the most glamorous Dangote celebration this year and I am very proud of it.”
At the gala dinner and awards ceremony, elated staff ranging from the Group Managing Director, Mr. Olakunle Alake, to drivers and security personnel were feted like royalty for their loyalty to an organisation, which was recently ranked as the best indigenous company to work in Nigeria according to the Jobberman 2019 Report.
The celebrated staff, who had dedicated their time, energy, loyalty and skills to one of Nigeria’s largest indigenous companies, were each given a certificate of recognition, an award plaque, a financial reward, and a thunderous round applause from the staff, family members and friends of the awardees.
The 172 awardees were placed in five categories; 29 staff were celebrated for between 10 and 14 years of service; 85 were rewarded for between 15 and 19 years of service; another 29 were feted for between 20 and 24 years of loyal service; 13 were applauded for dedicated service of between 25 and 29 years; while four staff were also honoured for their service from 30 years and above.
Remarkably, 12 staff who had passed on while on active duty, were eulogised and post-humous awards were given to their spouses for their dedicated service ranging from 10 to 39 years. Both the Group Executive Director, Logistics and Distribution, DIL, Alhaji Abdu Dantata, who emerged the highest living awardee for his 36 years of diligent service, and the Group Managing Director, Mr. Olakunle Alake, who has put in 29 years of service to the organisation and who gave the welcome remarks, were given outstanding ovation for their exemplary commitment and loyalty.
In his keynote address, the President/CE of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote GCON, commended all the awardees for their loyalty, commitment and dedicated service over the years; all of which had contributed to elevate the company from a trading concern founded in 1981 to one of the largest manufacturing conglomerates in Africa today, with a household name in Nigeria and a global brand to boot.
The elated President, who wore a look of calm satisfaction at the incredible growth of the organisation to a multi-billion-dollar status, noted that the staff, especially the awardees, was crucial part of the global success story which Dangote Industries has become today.
According to him, “I want to say a very big thank you to all of us here tonight. Indeed, loyalty is royalty and the successful growth of our company is a direct result of your excellent service. Your loyalty upholds our core principles and our continuous growth is based on a culture of resilience and loyalty.
“Today, we celebrate your individual and collective successes and our breakthrough was due to your investment of many years of loyal service. I encourage you to remain dedicated and committed. We deeply appreciate you and your efforts. Thank you very much.”
The billionaire businessman, who personally presented the awards to all the awardees that have served DIL for 25 years and more and to the families of all the post-humous awardees, was given a surprise gift as a token of appreciation at the event anchored by the GCHRO, Mr. Udoh and an organising committee.
Dangote, flanked by his three daughters, Halima, Fatima, and Mariya; Alhaji Dantata and the GMD, Mr. Alake, was given a framed picture of himself with the names of all the 172 awardees embedded; to rapturous applause and standing ovation by all the attendees at the event in appreciation of a man who has consistently broken boundaries in entrepreneurship, philanthropy and staff welfare in Nigeria and beyond.
In response, the awardees, some of who spoke in short video clips, were full of praise and prayers for Aliko Dangote and proud to have served the organisation for so long. Their overall gratitude at the award, gift and honour was aptly captured by a staff in the security department, Mr. Samanja Umaru, who was rewarded for his 20 years of service to the company. Samanja, who effusively narrated how Dangote has transformed his life and family, pledged his undying loyalty to the organisation which has given him so much.
According to Samanja, “Dangote is a blessed man and Dangote (DIL) is a good company. I began working with Dangote way back in 1981 at the warehouse where we were paid N10 daily. God bless Alhaji Dangote. He carries everybody along, whether Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, anyone. Alhaji Dangote changed my life. He is a blessed man”.
One notable lesson which emerged from the Dangote long service awards event was that loyalty and hard work pays, even in a rapidly changing world. And to the happy awardees and rollicking staff across all levels, DIL remains an ideal place to work, and a beacon of hope and comfort for the staff, their families and their dependents.