✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Dangote and the Audacity of a Believer

By Zayd Ibn Isah This story is about a man who set out to achieve a seemingly impossible task: to build the largest refinery in…

By Zayd Ibn Isah

This story is about a man who set out to achieve a seemingly impossible task: to build the largest refinery in Africa, right in the heart of Nigeria. Aliko Dangote, already a titan in the cement industry and various other sectors, embarked on this ambitious project with the vision of not only meeting Nigeria’s massive demand for refined petroleum products but also transforming the country into a net exporter of these commodities.

In separate interviews with CNN’s Eleni Giokos, one at the refinery in Lagos and the second at Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meeting, the world’s richest black man recounted his experiences and the challenges he faced in attempting to construct one of the largest refineries globally.

When asked whether he would have undertaken the project knowing the extent of the challenges, the business tycoon admitted he might not have started it. This response points to the immense personal sacrifices and perseverance required to tackle such ambitious undertakings. Aliko Dangote reflected on his lifelong ethos as a fighter, highlighting how he navigated both local and international hurdles to realize this monumental refinery project, the first of its kind in Africa in over three decades.

The Dangote Refinery, situated in the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, stands as a monumental feat of engineering and economic foresight. Boasting a capacity to refine 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day, it not only aims to meet Nigeria’s domestic needs but also plans to export products to neighboring countries and beyond.

According to him, the journey to bring this refinery to fruition was fraught with hurdles: from securing financing in a volatile economic environment to navigating complex regulatory landscapes and managing the logistical intricacies of such a massive construction endeavor. However, propelled by his never-say-die Nigerian spirit and strategic leadership, the refinery project persevered, surmounting obstacles one by one.

Beyond its sheer scale and production capacity, the Dangote Refinery signifies a staunch commitment to industrialization and economic empowerment. Throughout its construction phase, it has generated thousands of direct and indirect jobs and is poised to contribute significantly to the Nigerian economy through increased exports and reduced dependence on imported petroleum products.

Surprisingly, Dangoteʼs reason for undertaking this project was more about liberating the continent than personal gain. This desire to help the Federal Government tackle the lingering issue of petroleum products importation indicates a level of patriotism that most businessmen lack in the name of amassing profit. Dangote further emphasized that his determination to build the refinery stemmed from the realization that of the 54 countries in Africa, only Algeria and Liberia do not import crude oil. In a report on the official website of the Dangote Group, he said, “…I’m a Nigerian and if there are issues to be sorted out, I should be one of those who will bring solutions to our national problems.”

Aliko Dangote’s audacity as a dreamer is encapsulated in the completion of this refinery, a testament to his firm belief in Nigeria’s potential and his resolute commitment to driving its economic transformation. As the refinery commences operations, it not only marks the realization of an extraordinary vision but also serves as a catalyst for further industrial growth and prosperity within Nigeria and across the continent.

There are quite a lot of lessons to learn from Dangote’s revelations. One is conviction. The world is full of naysayers, which is why many dreamers never see their dreams realized. In Dangote’s case, he was already convinced of what he wanted to achieve. Even when the Saudi Arabian Energy Minister advised him to back down and shared the challenges they faced in building a refinery, he stood firm with the resolve that there was no turning back.

At the aforementioned 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting held at Nassau, The Bahamas, not too long ago, Dangoteʼs humility and self-awareness showed forth, as he acknowledged the fact that this monumental project only came to fruition through the solid support, partnerships and encouragement of many, including financial institutions and certain individuals. One of such individuals was the late Managing Director and CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, whose passing still remains a shattering loss to Nigeria as a whole. Nowadays, it is extremely difficult to find such support from most individuals, especially when the establishment of a functional refinery in Nigeria would dismantle systems benefiting from the fact that all four of the government-owned refineries within the country have remained moribund for decades.

Dangote also stressed the importance of a self-sufficient Nigerian economy, before broaching the ideal vision of a united Africa. If all of this sounds quite grand and lofty, I can personally understand. After all, we have become inured to the damaging effects of constant dependence on foreign investment, importation and humanitarian interventions. However, Dangoteʼs vision of continental industrialization doesn’t seem too far off and out-of-reach now that he has basically achieved the impossible against all odds. If anything, it should spur African governments to begin making moves towards self-sufficiency and economic liberation. Our collective importation bill takes a heavy toll upon our struggling economies, even as the best of our human capital and natural resources go to foreign shores.

This is the audacity of a singular belief: it can create the sort of domino effect which would inspire generations. And this is especially when such a belief is executed upon to produce satisfying results, Dangoteʼs refinery being the example here. Should we even talk about the benefits of this audacious achievement? Nigeria stands to save billions of dollars annually in foreign exchange alone from this. When you also consider the potential to create thousands of jobs, positively affect the value of the naira, generate electricity and eliminate oil import dependence while providing quality crude to meet local consumption needs, you begin to appreciate Dangoteʼs doggedness.

Ultimately, the Dangote Refinery story extends beyond one great man alone, even when such a man is Aliko Dangote. This story is ours by way of a particularly defining significance. And that is the fact that the task of making Nigeria a better place, the task of ensuring that our collective futures do not drown in despair, will always require concerted efforts from both the government and citizenry. Let this transformational project, and the lessons it holds, inspire Nigerians across all walks of life to never give up on their fatherland, but to believe just as Dangote did, and seek greatness by offering viable solutions to the problems that have bedeviled our beloved nation.

The West will not save us. The sooner we realize and accept this bitter truth, the quicker we can begin laying out blueprints for effective restoration and growth. And only then can we truly progress.

Zayd Ibn Isah can be reached at [email protected]

Join Daily Trust WhatsApp Community For Quick Access To News and Happenings Around You.

UPDATE: Nigerians in Nigeria and those in diaspora can now be paid in US Dollars. Premium domains can earn you as much as $17,000 (₦27 million).

Click here to start earning.