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Sani Dangote: Time and legacies of ‘The friendly millionaire’

It is a little over two weeks since the death of Sani Dangote, who was the younger brother of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.  Late…

It is a little over two weeks since the death of Sani Dangote, who was the younger brother of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. 

Late Sani Dangote, known among his friends and those working under him as ‘The Friendly Millionaire’ because of his calm mien to worldly things, died on November 14, 2021, in the United States of America at the age of 61 after battling with colon cancer.  He was buried in Kano, his home state a few days after.

Death is inevitable and no one will escape when it is time to go, but the departure of Sani Dangote has remained as fresh as the very minute he was announced gone. While his immediate family is still mourning his demise and sharing the wonderful moments they had with him, including the huge vacuum created by his exit, those who worked under him are yet to come to terms with his departure.

Also, thousands of people whose livelihood turned for the better because of his entrepreneurial acumen are still narrating how he changed their mindset towards commercial agriculture and other endeavours.  

Before his death, late Sani Dangote was the group vice-president of Dangote Industries Limited. Those close to the family described him as “a bridge-builder”. One of them said, “Late Sani was the delight of everybody in the family…He took the time to listen to everyone and solve their problems as much as he could. “

“Aliko Dangote has said it all about Sani and the kind of a simple man he was. I am sure it will take a long time for the family especially Aliko Dangote to recover from the shock. May Allah forgive him and admit him in Jannatil Firdaus,” he said. 

Late Sani Dangote was also the deputy chairman of the African Gum Arabic Producers Association and a two-time president of Lagos Polo Club. He was also a member of several chambers of commerce, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping of Nigeria and president of the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association (FERSAN) as well as the owner of Dansa Foods Limited, Dansa Energy, Sagas Energy Limited, Bulk Pack Services Limited, Dansa Agro Allied Limited and Dangote Farms Limited. 

He was known for his passion for agriculture and its development in not only Nigeria but across the globe.  It was this zeal that made late Sani Dangote to invest over N6billion to establish the Dangote Tomato Processing factory, the largest of its kind in Africa with 1,200tons per day capacity.  The plant, situated at Kadawa in Garun Malam Local Government Area of Kano State, has provided employment to a lot of youths in the state and even beyond. 

The establishment of the tomato processing factory by late Sani has been described as an intervention that has put smiles on the faces of thousands of tomato farmers in Nigeria as it addresses tomato post-harvest losses usually incurred by farmers as well as to save the country’s funds that leak away through tomato paste importation. 

Late Sani Dangote was also very instrumental in the coming on board of Dangote Fertilizer, which was introduced into the market in June 2021.The brand has been described as the only fertilizer that got accepted by farmers within the first month of its introduction into the Nigerian market. 

Many people that have either worked closely or stayed with him described him as an easy-going individual whose simplicity earned him the love of many.   It was also gathered that late Sani tried in making himself accessible to even the lowest-ranking officers of his staff. 

Alhaji Abdulkareen Kaita is the managing director of Dangote Tomato Processing Plant who had worked with Sani for decades in several sectors of the Dangote business empire.  According to him, late Sani was an interesting personality to relate with, adding that many workers never knew his position until they were told because of his simplicity with his staff.

He explained that because of late Sani’s zeal to tackle the waste incurred by tomato farmers as well as his concern to reduce the massive importation of tomato paste when the country can provide more than enough, he (Sani) had sleepless nights until he succeeded in ensuring that the largest tomato processing factory came to life in Kano. “We will surely miss a man who really changed our lives; he was so simple and down to earth in all his activities. No doubt the gap he left behind will remain a gap in our lives forever. Sani has been a friend, a brother and a mentor to many of us and we will always pray for his soul to rest in peace,” said Kaita.  

Perhaps, this is why Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described late Sani as someone who was instrumental to the development of agricultural policies of the federal government. When the vice president paid a condolence visit to the family of late Sani, he said, “Sani was a good friend of mine and somebody who I consider a collaborator and was very instrumental in our tomato policy and several other agricultural policies and was part of government policies in so many ways. 

“It was a big shock for us to hear that he had passed on. I want to send my own personal condolence to you and to all members of the family; this is a very, very sad event. But I know that the Almighty God will comfort the family. 

“He has left behind a very excellent legacy and he was a man who was committed to his country, committed to his state and committed to his people. I hope that the Almighty God will comfort all of us. I pray that we all will live long and we live well and that this country of ours will live well and all will be well with us,” he said. 

Similarly, in a condolence message, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje described late Sani as a complete gentleman adding that his death has left behind a gap in Nigeria as a country and the business community. “But to all of us, particularly those from Kano State, we lost a rare gem in the business community,” said Ganduje.

Remembering his last moment, the chilling details given by Africa’s richest man Alhaji Aliko Dangote on his brother’s death has indeed touched many souls and also put a new meaning to life.  When Dangote revealed that he watched how his brother, late Sani Dangote, was dying slowly in hospital until he succumbed after doctors had told the entire family present by his sickbed that he would give up in the next one hour, people present during the revelation felt the pain the richest man felt. 

It can be recalled that the revelation was made when the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, paid the family a condolence visit. According to Dangote, “We have always known that when there is life, there is death. We as Muslims don’t know who is next and it can be today, tomorrow or even now. That is why it is good to be good so that when you get there, you can bid for whatever you were asked to do on earth. 

“I thank you all for all your prayers and your support. This will actually help us to reduce the pain that we are going through. It is a very tough time for us, it’s been very trying for me, and we were actually bonding together. Having a brother like this, once you lose him, is really very painful. He died in front of me, our mother and all his children,” he said. 

Narrating how the family lost him, Dangote said: “The most painful thing is when you are told that your brother will be passing on in about an hour and you stand by watching as the machine was going down until it stopped working. It was very tormenting.”

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