Alhaji Aliko Dangote, founder of the Aliko Dangote Foundation. [PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter @Glaziang]

Since this Foundation debuted, it has not only blazed a trail in the annals of philanthropy cum charity, it has redefined the standard and become a benchmark for a committed passion for philanthropic gestures and charity outreaches. Alhaji Aliko Dangote has always risen to the occasion whenever needs of philanthropic interventions arise…

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”. — Albert Pike

We were all born human. We ascend the Olympian height of humanity when we transcend from just being humans to humanitarians. And humanitarianism is a passionate idealism rooted in a keen sense of empathy, because compassion is the springboard of altruism. Life becomes literally meaningless when humanity is sacrificed at the altar of cupidity and avarice.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote is famed for being a foremost industrialist, paragon of the entrepreneurial spirit and epitome of philanthropy. Apart from his towering profile as the richest man in Africa and biggest employer of labour, this quintessential investor is also renowned as a hallmark of philanthropy. His philanthropic milestones through the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) is not only legendary and exemplary but unparalleled.

Inspired by his voracity for philanthropy as a man with a large heart of gold, who understands that wealth without purpose is a liability, in 1994, he floated Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). This platform was initiated with the sole aim of giving back to the society, in the noble quest to contribute his own quota towards making the world a better place.

Since this Foundation debuted, it has not only blazed a trail in the annals of philanthropy cum charity, it has redefined the standard and become a benchmark for a committed passion for philanthropic gestures and charity outreaches. Alhaji Aliko Dangote has always risen to the occasion whenever needs of philanthropic interventions arise, especially in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

Let us take off from security. The biggest challenge facing Nigeria today is the debilitating insecurity ravaging and savaging many locations in the country. Stepping out of his private sector cloak, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has contributed immensely towards national peace, unity and security, because he understands that peace and security are intertwined, being hardly separable from each other.

He is a founding member of National Peace Committee headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd). Every keen observer of developments in our polity can attest to the landmark nationalistic and statesmanship roles this Committee has played (still playing) to pull the country from the brinks and stabilise it, whenever it starts teetering towards the crescendo of crisis.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote via his Foundation, ADF, has so far donated more than 150 fully equipped operational vehicles to the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), to help in curbing crime and criminality. In the same vein, Dangote Cement Plc, a subsidiary of Dangote Group, has equally supported Lagos and Ogun Security Trust Funds, respectively, through a combined donation of 60 fully kitted patrol vehicles.

Beyond donations of operational vehicles to security agencies and construction of 200 housing units worth N2 billion for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno State, Dangote Industries Limited has single-handedly created over 700,000 direct and indirect jobs. In this sense, employment is one of the pathways to peace and security. The Foundation, in partnership with Bank of Industry (BOI), set up a N10 billion MSME Fund to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Until teeming youths are gainfully engaged in productive ventures, they will remain destructive vessels for violence and brigandage. This is the philosophy driving Dangote Group’s humongous investments in Nigeria, and one of the reasons Alhaji Aliko Dangote frowns at over-dependence on importation, because it kills local industries, impedes economic growth, renders our youths jobless and enables insecurity. The economic stability of a nation is directly proportional to its political stability, and vice versa.

Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) has made a visible mark in the educational sector, being responsible for the biggest private-sector intervention in the country. The Foundation has constructed (and is still building) the following projects: a N1.2 billion Dangote Business School, Bayero University, Kano; dormitories worth N1.2 billion in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; the construction of dormitories in Crescent University, Ogun State; the building of the Aliko Dangote Complex at the University of Ibadan Business School; and the erection of students’ dormitories at Ambrose Alli University, Edo State, etcetera.

Aliko Dangote Foundation’s (ADF) support for education is anchored on the school of thought that the funding of university education should not be left to government alone. The private sector has a role to play, like what is obtainable in the developed world. It is not ironic that topmost tertiary institutions in the world have their largest endowment funds mostly from private companies.

Take for instance, the Harvard University Endowment Fund is the largest, globally, at $40.9 billion. Yale University follows with an endowment fund worth $30 billion as at 2019. Stanford University comes third with $27.7 billion; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a $17.4 billion endowment. Private-sector funding is one of the factors why these Ivy League institutions remain highly sought after by the rest of the world.

On the level of sports, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, via ADF, has being a significant contributor to the development of sports and its corresponding activities in Nigeria. ADF has enormously supported the Nigerian Premiership League (NPL) through grants and adverts. Any sports enthusiast knowns how fanatical Dangote is when it comes to football. He has never hidden his eagerness towards supporting the National Team, the Super Eagles.

Aliko Dangote Foundation took over MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, in order to give the edifice a befitting look through the renovation and upgrade of the sporting facility to international standards. One million dollars was committed to this project. Africa’s richest man understands that by investing in sports, the nation can kill three birds with one stone.

Football is one of the major unifying forces in Nigeria today. When Super Eagles is playing, no one remembers who is Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo; everyone patriotically embraces Nigeria. It is repeated when big European clubs are playing, for example, Chelsea FC, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid or Arsenal FC — Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s favorite club. You can see Yoruba, Ijaw and Hausa wearing the same jerseys; supporting the same club. Sports is a universal religion.

Sports creates jobs, impacts the economy and uplifts the mood of the nation. As an avid job creator and entrepreneur, Dangote takes the development of sports seriously. It is estimated that annually the English Premiership cumulatively contributes £7.6 billion to the economy of United Kingdom (UK).

La Liga, Spanish League, contribute €15. 7 billion, seasonally, with 185,000 jobs created in the economy of Spain. Imagine what happens if other private-sector players join Dangote to replicate this milestones in Nigeria.

Aliko Dangote Foundation has also carved a niche in the health sector through its philanthropic initiatives. I can remember vividly when the Ebola epidemic broke out in Africa, ADF made a humongous donation of $3 million to support the African Union’s intervention against Ebola in West Africa. It also complimented the Nigerian government’s efforts to curtail the disease through the donation of funds and medical equipment.

ADF has been at the forefront of campaigning against polio and malaria in Nigeria and Africa for over a decade. Aliko Dangote Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined forces with governments, both federal and state, to see that polio was eradicated in Nigeria. ADF built several primary health centres (PHCs) across the country to achieve this United Nations objective. 220 units of boreholes have been constructed to give access to potable water to rural dwellers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic ducked on our shores, Alhaji Aliko Dangote rose to the occasion. He led private sector support via the CACOVID Committee that provided much-needed succor to the masses through food palliatives and medical equipment cum vaccines. The CACOVID Committee distributed N23 billion worth of food palliatives to state governments, for onward sharing to individuals and families across the country.

Aliko Dangote Foundation provided a testing lab in Kano, with the capacity for 1000 daily tests, including supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical consumables. The Foundation donated 10 ambulances and two cars for the rapid response team in Kano. Apart from supporting the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Foundation sponsored the testing of over 9,000 Nigerian returnees at the airports, during the airspace shutdown orchestrated by the lockdown.

In furtherance of his philanthropic strides, Aliko Dangote Foundation launched its Integrated Nutrition Programme (ADFIN). In 2017, Alhaji Aliko Dangote announced the then new flagship programme for the Foundation worth $100 million dollars. In the words of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou: “by investing in nutrition, we aim to directly improve the lives of Nigerian families and to empower our citizens to reach their full potential.”

Truly, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has etched his name in the hall of fame when it comes to philanthropy cum charity.

Chidiebere Nwobodo, a social commentator, writes via chidieberenwobodo@yahoo.com.

 

 

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