At number 136 on the 2019 Forbes’ billionaires’ list, Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Group is Africa’s richest man with a net worth of $10.6 billion. He owns almost 85% shares of Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer with operations in 10 countries across the continent and has a production rate of 45.6 million tonnes per year.
Aliko Dangote, who said he does not only want to be known as Africa’s richest man but also the biggest philanthropist donated a 2,160-bed hostel complex to the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in northern Nigeria. The building which was constructed at a tune of 1.2 billion naira ($3.3million) is composed of 10 blocks with 360 rooms.
Dangote’s gesture was precipitated by the fact that the population of students at the university was growing against limited accommodation facilities. The situation remains a disturbing reality for public universities in Nigeria as they struggle with securing funds for such projects.
This is not the first time Africa’s richest man has made such donations. His interventions in Nigeria’s education sector abound as has made such gestures at Bayero University in Kano and the University of Ibadan where he built multi-billion business complexes which are valued at 1.2 billion naira and 250 million naira respectively.
Similar projects will take place at the University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano where his foundation is building a 500 capacity hostel complex and another 118 million naira complex project at Nsukka, the main campus of the University of Nigeria with the University of Port Harcourt also getting 50 million naira.
“It is with a deep sense of fulfilment that the Aliko Dangote hall comprising 10 halls of fully equipped accommodation complex with a capacity to house over 2000 students built and donated by Aliko Dangote Foundation to Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria,” he tweeted.
Dangote, who is a father of three girls intended to build the hostel for girls and so pleaded with the Vice Chancellor to house the girls instead of boys. He is reported to have said, “I still plead with the Vice-Chancellor to leave it for the female folk. Because of the luxury of this place, it is better to give it to the girls, boys can manage anywhere, maybe we need to have a discussion to see how we help in terms of transporting them to and fro.
“If you bring the boys here, I will really be in trouble with my daughters, you know I have only three daughters, so they will like to have the ladies here,” he added.
The university in return conferred on him an honorary doctoral degree in recognition of his unprecedented contribution to the education sector and the university.
The governor of Kaduna, Ahmed El Rufai who commissioned the hostel commended Dangote on the gesture and also encouraged other wealthy people to emulate his actions.
Ahmadu Bello University has been reportedly handicapped in the area of accommodation for about 40 years until Aliko Dangote extended his philanthropic activities to the school.
Aliko, who said he wants to use his resources to build a better Nigeria and Africa as a whole, also called on people of affluence in Nigeria to support such causes as government cannot execute such tasks alone because there are other domains that require attention too.
He suggested that corporate bodies should go beyond paying the two per cent levy to help the government expand funding opportunities for the education sector. By doing this, institutions of higher learning would be able to produce graduates who can transform the nation.
Aliko Dangote is currently constructing a refinery in Nigeria that is expected to be among the world’s largest oil refineries.