Born on April 10, 1957 in the then Northern Region of British Nigeria (Kano State), Aliko Dangote was born to Mohammed Dangote and Mariya Sanusi Dantata. An ethnic Hausa from Kano State, he showed his love for business by selling sweets even in primary school.
As a teenager, he began to work for his uncle, Sani Dangote and it was said of him that he served diligently. Sometime in 1977 and after his 20th birthday, he approached his uncle and master and told him about his plan to establish a business outfit which would trade in cement, sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cotton, millet, vegetable oil and other products.
His uncle provided a loan of N500,000 but gave a caveat to Aliko to return the loan within a deadline of three months (this was the practice at the time).
Dangote first of all relocated to Lagos in June 1977, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, also, he then began to travel around Nigeria to develop a strong distribution channel for the quick and efficient delivery of his products.
A few years earlier, the Benin Airport had been constructed. This served as one of his routes to the Niger-Delta or South-South area of Nigeria. Benin, formerly known as the City of Blood was then experiencing a great revival through 39-year-old Benson Andrew Idahosa, a Bini man, who was established as a young Christian in the Assemblies of God and now pastored the Church of God Mission.
Idahosa who had recently returned from a missionary school in America had established strong links with a number of pastors such as Gordon Lindsay, Jim Bakker and Tommy Lee Osborn among others.
Tommy Lee Osborn, one of the greatest evangelists in modern times had first responded to Benson Idahosa’s letters in 1962. Subsequently, a solid relationship was established over the years resulting in Osborn’s visits with his wife, Daisy to Benin on a few occasions, either for his crusades or specifically to Idahosa’s Church.
Of all the visits however, one specific visit in the late 1970s was very unique. T.L and Daisy Osborn had stayed late ministering at the Miracle Centre of Church of God Mission just opposite the Airport. They therefore went late to catch their flight to Lagos which was supposed to be a connecting flight from Johannesburg to France, England and then the USA.
By the time Idahosa took his guests to the airport, they were told that the last flight for the day was overbooked. Not one seat was available, the passengers had boarded and the flight about to take off. Not only that, the jetliner had begun to taxi towards the runway. Benson Idahosa’s new Mercedes sped towards the tarmac and screeched to a halt in front of the plane. Benson Idahosa came out and waved at the pilot frantically.
The plane stopped and the steps were lowered as the pilot came down to know what the issue was.
Idahosa began “I have two of God’s important servants who must go to Lagos”. “But we are loaded to capacity. Every seat is full” said the captain.
“Never mind. Let me on board. They all know me; they see ‘Redemption Hour’ (Idahosa’s TV program). Let me talk to them”. Idahosa obliged, climbed into the plane and walked down the crowded aisles. The passengers were annoyed. He prayed silently as he returned to the front. He turned round, facing the passengers and started “Excuse me friends, I have two of God’s special servants in my car. They must go to Lagos today on this plane. Two of you will get off now so God’s servants can board. God bless you.”
He waited a minute, no one moved. The silence showed annoyance by the impatient passengers. Some pretended to be asleep and others it seemed were praying. Idahosa slowly walked the aisle again.
As he approached the rear, a young man rose from the back of the plane and asked the person sitting next to him to get up. Yes, said Idahosa pointing, you can go tomorrow. You can travel later he said, pointing to the other man. They both gathered their belongings and proceeded from the plane.
Benson Idahosa stopped the first man in the aisle of the plane. He asked him “young man, what is your name and what do you do?”
“My name is Aliko Dangote and this is my assistant” the young man replied. “I am a trader, a businessman”.
Impressed, Benson Idahosa responded, “The World will get up for you.” The mostly Christian passengers responded “Amen”. “My God will bless you! God will take you and your business beyond Africa and bless you beyond measure”.
Just before descending the steps, Idahosa turned and raised his hands with tears in his eyes, praised the Lord and blessed the remaining passengers for their patience. They all broke out in spontaneous clapping.
See you on ‘Redemption Hour’ this Sunday evening he said. They clapped as T.L and Daisy Osborn boarded for the subsequent flight.
The world has since stood up for that twenty something year old man.
Today, Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian Billionaire ($13.8 Bn, Real Time Net Worth),
- Africa’s richest man, founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer.
- He owns about 90% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company.
- Dangote Cement produces 44 million metric tons annually and plan to increase its output 33% by 2020.
- Dangote also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies.
Presently the richest man in Africa (2017), the 105th richest in the world (2017) and the 68th most powerful man in the world (2015).
Source: The African Apostles:Volume 1 (Patriarchs and Pacesetters), Oluwaleke Beecroft & Forbes