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Foretelling The Future

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IMAGE: R- L Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote, »


There is something inseparable about the Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and the World’s richest man, Bill Gates. It’s not about their vast wealth. It is their charity.  Dangote, 57, has given more to charity in recent years more than anyone else in the country. But his ambition is much more than Nigeria and Africa. Just like Bill Gates, Dangote seems to be preparing for a life outside his vast business empire, the Dangote Group.

With their calm looks and soft-spoken mien, Dangote and Gates come off easily as people destined to show compassion to others.

So on a recent Sunday, when the news of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) became rife in the city of Lagos, populated by some 20 million people, Dangote was concerned. He took the first step. He called those in government to know how he could assist. Then, the morning after, it was Dangote who donated the first millions to care for the victims of the virulent disease at the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos.

“Dangote foundation has funded the establishment of the Ebola emergency operation in Lagos, that is being done through grant from the foundation of just a little over N150 million,” said Mrs Adhiambo Odaga, Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Foundation.

The foundation’s CEO explained the choice of the emergency operation centre as Dangote’s investment in fighting the deadly virus, saying it was seen as a key platform through which the government could launch an onslaught on the virus in a bid to contain it.

Now, with the cheering news of a survivor, Dangote can say he has put his money where his mouth is. At least that is how Gates measures progress too. But why does measurement matters? Gates said: “You can achieve amazing progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal-in a feedback loop…”

Being born of a humble parentage, the duo of Dangote and Gates are living a life that is characterised by simplicity, honesty and openness.

So it was easy to understand when Gates was the choice of the Time magazine to write about Dangote in one of its special edition of the 100 most influential people in the world.

And as common with Gates, he wrote a complex story in a simple, easy to read and to understand manner. Clearly, he was happy about the opportunity. The subject matter of the story which he coined as ‘Africa's richest man who does good in addition to doing well’ resonates well with everyone following Dangote’s philanthropic gesture.

Gates wrote: “A year ago, I gave a speech in London about the fight to eradicate polio. It included a section on Nigeria, one of just three countries where the virus still circulates. The organizers told me Aliko Dangote had been invited. I thought, I’d like to see him, but he’d end polio faster by staying in Nigeria and doing the work he does every day. Fortunately, Aliko thought the same thing. He skipped my speech, and the children of Nigeria are better off for it.

“Aliko is Africa’s richest man, and his business activities drive economic growth across the continent. That’s impressive, but I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and public health. It’s for that reason he helped create the Nigeria Private Sector Health Alliance. And it’s for that reason he is an advocate for agricultural research and malaria control.
“All of this is in addition to Aliko’s leadership on polio and other diseases. The last time I was in Nigeria, we met with dozens of people, from government leaders to front-line health workers. After I left, Aliko followed up with them to make sure they were doing the work they said they would do. This year, Nigeria is on pace for its lowest number of polio cases ever. Aliko is a big reason why.”

Yes, Dangote and Gates have been in partnership over the years to end polio in Nigeria. In November 2012, their charities agreed to work together on a number of issues to raise the standard of living for Nigerians and to develop the economy. For the immediate, they prioritised polio eradication. Gates said they are collaborating to wipe out polio in Nigeria because they believe it will help to improve the lives of people and move the economy forward.

Nigeria’s health minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu at a meeting acknowledged their good deeds.

He said: “Bill Gates donated $1.5 billion to the fight against polio. What I want us to go back with today is that vaccines are free to those who cannot afford it. But in reality vaccines are not free but have been paid for by Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote Foundations for our children to have it free”.

Now, Dangote and Gates have recorded a feet in that area. They have seen the end of polio in Nigeria, but they continue to work to support Nigerians in difficult situations.

And when some 21 million people were faced with hunger in Pakistan in 2010 owing to flood that washed away crops and seedlings with many rendered homeless, Dangote’s name was heard in Pakistan. He donated to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help pakistanis rebuild their lives.

“We cannot thank you enough for the Dangote Foundation’s contribution of $2 million to the World Food Programme’s relief efforts in Pakistan. The donation sends a strong message to the world that African private sector is a key player in the fight against hunger,” said WFP’s Josette Sheeran in a letter to Dangote.
And in Nigeria, while it was all pledges everywhere without action, when floods ravaged the country in 2012, Dangote was outstanding in generosity.
As the Co-chairman of the 34-man Presidential Committee on Flood Relief, he single-handedly donated N2.5 billion to the relief fund and another N150 million for the running of the secretariat of the PCFRR at a fundraising event held at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja.
And with that over, he moved to the states affected by the floods to personally donate to state government sum of money ranging from N100 to 200 million depending on the situation of each state.

He has ploughed over N1.2 billion into Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States where the federal government has imposed state of emergency in order to help women and youths in that parts of the country.

Now, will Dangote be retiring in the next three years when he’s 60 to concentrate fully on his charitable work? It is not difficult to tell. He has put structure in place to ensure that happens.
In March, he endowed the charity he set up exactly 20 years ago with N200 billion.

The N200 billion according to Dangote would come from personal contributions as well as shares of his publicly quoted companies, which would be transferred to the foundation for onward disbursement to beneficiaries.

He said: “Since the Dangote Foundation is now 20 years old, this initial endowment will assure that the foundation has secure and steady funding to carry out its mission as we significantly scale up our work.”

Not only that, he reconstituted the board of trustees with people who can bring the change he wants to see. That list include himself; his brother, Sani; his daughter, Halima Aliko Dangote; Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Industries Limited, Olakunle Alake; A.B Mahmoud (SAN); former Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; wife of the former Ekiti State Governor, Angela Adebayo; wife of the former Managing Director/CEO Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Hajara Adeola; and Group Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital West Africa, Mrs. Yvonne Ike-Fasinro.

To be sure, he appointed Adhiambo Odaga, a Kenyan national who worked with the Ford Foundation for about 14 years and served as West African Representative of the global non-profit at its Banana Island, Lagos’ office.

Odaga had prepared herself for the task with her robust international knowledge of non-profits management. Of course, she holds a Ph.D. from St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University, which she attended as Kenya’s first Rhodes Scholar.
“Last year, we appointed Adhiambo Odaga as the managing director to grow the Dangote Foundation team. The stage is set now for the next stage of our institutional growth,” Dangote said.

For the fourth year running, Dangote retained his position in Africa as the richest man of the continent. Dangote, who was number 43 on the top 100 world billionaires Forbes magazine’s rich list in 2013, took a quantum leap, when he moved up 20 spots to retain his position in Africa and also became the 23rd richest man in the world.

For that, Forbe’s writer, Mfonobong Nsehe said: “It’s been uphill journey for Aliko Dangote, who debuted on our billionaires list in 2008 with a $3.3 billion fortune. Over the last 6 years, he has added $21.7 billion to his net worth thanks largely to the incredible success of his crown jewel, the publicly-listed Dangote Cement which has a market cap of $24 billion and has operations in 15 African countries. Dangote owns more than 90 per cent of the company.”

Now, the aphorism that charity begins at home is true about Dangote, but his ambitions may not be contained by one continent.

These days, Dangote is compared to some of the world’s great models in philanthropy like America’s Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, because there is so much coming out from him to the world in terms of charity.

That perception Dangote said: “I believe that people make the difference and not the balance sheet. We impact positively on the lives of the people, not by how much money we have accumulated, but by how much goodwill we have accumulated.”

In Seattle, Washington, United States, this Friday, this man that has been described as ‘African sweetheart’ will again sit side by side with Gates in what has become a habit to discuss how to further bring joy to the world.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Aliko Dangote     Bill Gates     Mrs Adhiambo Odaga     Mfonobong Nsehe