Africa’s richest man and the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has stated that he’s not in business solely to make money, but is just as interested in developing Africa and humanity, hence his philanthropic works through his foundation.
He equally said that labelling Nigeria corrupt based on past misdeeds undermines the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to rid the country of graft, and called on leaders of countries where stolen assets are hidden to assist in repatriating the stolen funds and support the federal government’s anti-corruption drive.
Dangote, who spoke in an interview on THISDAY’s sister cable news network, Arise News, also observed that the anti-corruption fight was so intense that he could be arrested if found wanting.
According to him, “A lot of people just have an impression of Nigeria based on what they have heard from the media. This is very wrong. Nigeria might be ‘fantastically corrupt’ but that was in the past, not now.
“There is a difference between was and is. President Buhari is doing his very best to rid Nigeria of corruption. There are no limits. I am sure that if I am found wanting tomorrow, nobody is going to save me, everybody will face his own music. I think the president is doing well and he needs our support.
“That is why the call for the return of stolen assets should be supported. If a corruption case is established everything should be done to return the assets to the owners.
“If you remember the Abacha loot that people keep talking about, up till now we are still struggling to repatriate the funds since 1998. I personally believe that things have changed dramatically and everyone now knows that you can no longer do things and get away with them.”
On the way out of the country’s foreign exchange crisis, he said the situation has to be managed, as Nigeria does not have enough reserves to support all the demand for forex as it did in the past.
“The situation in Nigeria is what we have to manage, we have to manage the resources that we have because we do not have the foreign reserves to support all the import demands as it used to be.
“I think the demand side is what we have to look at because a lot of things are being imported into the country. We cannot have a population of close to 200 million and is dependent on importation.
“However, those days are gone forever. What we need to focus on are things that would add value to our economy and put less demand on the foreign reserves.
“What that means is that we need to diversify the Nigerian economy, which we are doing. There are a lot of things in the pipeline which nobody is talking about; people are only looking at the bad side of things, which I think is wrong.
“But let me tell you what we are doing at Dangote Group: today we are building the single largest refinery in the world. The refinery has the capacity to produce about 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd), which is very crucial for Nigeria.
“First of all, there will be consistent supply of product when that is built, as there will be no shutdown. Nigeria only consumes about 450,000bpd, which means we will have an extra 200,000bpd to export.
“We also have a petrochemical plant which is for polypropylene production of about 1.3mmt, which means Nigeria will be the highest exporter of petrochemical products which will improve our capacity.
“We are also doing 3 million tonnes of urea and ammonia which are used for fertiliser. Most sub-Saharan African countries import their fertiliser needs but we plan to change that with what we are doing.
“Again, we have two gas pipelines of about 250 kilometres each from the Niger Delta. Each would transport 1.5 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day (bscf/d). Both will give us 3bscf/d and that will generate 12,000MW of power and it will also be connected to the West African Gas Pipeline project. So we are doing a lot which is not being reported, “he said.
On why he is in business, he said: “We are not in business just to make money, our aim is to develop Africa and to help humanity. That is why we are doing a lot of philanthropic work, which we started as far back as 1993.
“The (Dangote) Foundation was not established today, it was established a long time ago. When you look at our businesses, most of our investments are futuristic in nature where we want to take Nigeria and Africa to the next level.”
Elaborating on his partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote added: “What we are doing with Bill Gates is routing immunisation, polio vaccination and primary healthcare, it is a partnership.
“The other thing that we did recently is to look at nutrition because we have a lot of children with stunted growth in Nigeria. We are actually number three in the world in that regard.
“To eradicate it, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $50 million and the Dangote Foundation donated $50 million. This will enable us fight malnutrition in the next four to five years taking us to 2020. So we have been very successful in this regard.”