Africa’s richest man and Nigerian citizen, Aliko Dangote has revealed some crucial details about his life including his age, his need for a new wife, his ambition to own Arsenal football club, his communication habits as well as his views on the business environment in Nigeria.
The Billionaire revealed a soft side to his personality in an interview with David Piling of the Financial Times Newspaper who regards him as the leader of Nigeria’s oil refining revolution.
The 61 year old Billionaire bemoaned that his daily schedule prevents any form of romance although he is on the lookout for a new wife having been divorced twice and having three grown up daughters.
“I’m not getting younger. Sixty years is no joke. But it doesn’t make sense to go out and get somebody if you don’t have the time. Right now, things are really, really very busy, because we have the refinery, we have the petrochemicals, we have the fertiliser, and we have the gas pipeline.”
He however agrees he needs “calm down a bit”.
He also revealed that he tries to fast at least once a week because “it helps to clean your system”.
Speaking on his schedule, he revealed that he takes more than 100 phone calls in a day and as such has a very busy schedule. He also touched on his personal relationship with former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, noting that Blair makes only three calls per day but battles through tones and scores of emails.
When asked about how he handles his mails, he said, “you try to be polite and reply but they come back to you with a longer email, not minding that here is a very, very busy person”.
He also recalls the advise Blair often gives to him…. “Look Aliko, the world is not going to fall apart if you don’t answer your phone,”
Speaking on Nigeria’s oil industry he says once his $12 billion refinery is done, Nigeria will for the first time in her history, become Africa’s biggest exporter of petroleum products.
“When we finish this project, for the first time in history Nigeria will be the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa,” he said.
He also noted that the Nigerian economy was a very tough one and says only the toughest of the tough survives in Africa’s largest economy.
“…This is a very, very tough society. Only the toughest of the tough survive here”
He expressed reservations about his new refinery project, noting that it will not come without opposition and he was very likely to make new enemies.
“They will try all sorts of tricks, you can’t just come and remove food from their table and think they’re just going to watch you doing it”.
Dangote also expressed his sadness at the fact that Nigeria could not produce its needs locally and expressed his wish for the government to put some hard policies in place to stop the importation of certain products so that local production can be booted.
“What Nigeria needs is to produce locally what we can produce locally. Nigeria still imports vegetable oil, which makes no sense. Nigeria still imports 4.9m tones of wheat, which does not make sense, Nigeria still imports 97 or 98 per cent of the milk that we consume”
“The government needs to bring out a draconian policy to stop people importing milk, just like they did with cement.”
Known to be a man full of tenacity, Dangote reveals that he still has dreams about buying the London based football club, Arsenal FC which he estimated at $2bn. He added that once his refinery project is complete, he would focus on acquiring the football club.
“I love Arsenal and I will definitely go for it. When I buy it, I have to bring it up to the expectations of our supporters,”