Dangote praises Jonathan's favourable policies, says he has improved business climate in Nigeria

By The Citizen

The Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has attributed the favourable business policies by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to the improved business climate in the country.

He has also attributed his achievements in business in the country as well as being named as the richest man in Africa and 25th richest man on earth to favourable policies of the Administration.

Dangote disclosed this to the Nigerian community in Nairobi Kenya presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan with the Nigerian community in that country.

Dangote told the gathering that Jonathan had done a lot to improve business climate in Nigeria.

“I want to tell you what the President has been doing in Nigeria. He is very humble and may not want to sing about what he has been doing.

“I will tell you what he has been doing to Nigerians and to some of us who are in business in Nigeria.

“We are very grateful for some of the policies he has introduced. As you all know, without the good policies of government, there is no way a person like me from the big town like Kano can find himself to be the 25th richest person on earth.

“Without the policies of Mr. President and also making sure that yes, there is consistency in the policies of government this could not actually have happened.

“If Government has bad policies, the whole economy will crumble, and if they have good policies people will be able to prosper, and that is what it is now.

“Today, the company that we started worth not more than $4 million, by the Grace of Almighty and through the good policies of our government this same company of ours, is now worth $21 billion.

“In December 2003, our production of cement was 1.8 million tons, but today in Nigeria, we have 28.5 million tons and by next year, we are going to have 39 million tons. You can actually see the massive work and dramatic turn of event”.

Dangote also attributed his success story to the reforms carried out by the Federal Government in the banking sector.

He said the reforms had made it possible for Nigerian banks to be stable and strong and for investors to access huge fund locally at reasonable interest rates to implement projects.

“Mr. President has helped quite a lot because, usually, business men in Africa always rely on foreign banks.

“Foreign banks are good, but they will not understand the local issues and problems and the only way out is to strengthen the local banks and that is what his Excellency did.

“Apart from having the banks recapitalised, when there were issues in the banks Mr. President came in and empowered the banks by making sure he saved them from collapsing and we now have very strong banks.

“The $3.3 billion that we raised, over 90 per cent of the money was from the Nigerian Banks and some of them at low rate.

“It is from the banks' dollar reserves that they gave us $2.8 billion out of the $3.3 billion atsix6 per cent interest rate.

“Really, Mr. President, you have done quite a lot because, before now, I remembered when we built the cement plant that we are talking about.

“At a point, we actually borrowed money and we were paying 42 per cent interest rate.

“From 2004 to 2006, by the time we finished the factory, on interest rate alone, we paid $210 million.

“So this is something that this government had done which really we need to come out and tell the people that this is what our government is doing”,  he said.

The business mogul said that as a result of the success story in cement,  the President also approved some backward integration policies for Sugar, rice, cassava and palmoil.

He said his conglomerate is investing $2 billion on sugar manufacturing in the country which will generate about 750,000 job opportunities.

Dangote said the investment will also see an end to the over 1.8 million tons of raw sugar being imported to the country annually.

He disclosed that they had offered the plump job of setting up and managing the sugar production company to an expert which they lured from the biggest sugar manufacturing company in the East Africa, Ilobo Group.

“Ilobo which is the biggest group of companies and major sugar producer own by Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

“But because of the new policy of government on backward integration for sugar, we have to offer the Managing Director of Ilobo the appointment, and he has to resign and join us.

“Base on paper now, not on dividends, the man is the highest paid person in Dangote Group including even myself.

“We did this because of his vast knowledge in the sector and to make sure that we realise the dream in the sugar production in Nigeria,'' he said.

The business mogul also said that his conglomerate is setting up a $9 billion  petrochemical company in Nigeria that will engage 8,000 Engineers and more than 9,000 other members of staff.

Dangote said that the President had taken more than 40 per cent of private sector into the Economic Management Team.

In reiterating the level of empowerment by the Jonathan Administration, Dangote said he was reliably informed by an aircraft manufacturer that Nigeria is now the second highest private jet market in the world after the US.

“Without empowerment nobody can afford to go and buy aircraft. This is to tell you how well Nigerians are doing,” he said.

Dangote said the Jonathan Administration also have policies of supporting Nigerian companies to invest in other African countries.

He said his conglomerate had invested over $4 billion in building cement factories outside Nigeria with the assistance of the government.

On insecurity in the country, Dangote noted that government was trying its best possible to address the problem.

“Today, people talk about insecurity in the country, yes it is true, but there is no country on earth without challenges of insecurity.

“For instance Brazil has $437 billion in reserve compare to Nigeria with only $47 billion, but today, a person like myself cannot walk around in Brazil.

“There are more kidnapping in Brazil than in Nigeria. It is not that government is not doing anything, government is doing a lot.

“Most of the kidnapping that had taken place, the security officials have been able to rescue the victims unhurt”.

Dangote further encouraged the gathering to take the opportunity of the favourable policies of government by coming home to invest.