PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari will on the November 28, 2019, confer the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award on two Nigerian billionaires, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu. The honour is in recognition of their continuous hard work and total commitment to the empowerment of youths in Nigeria and Africa or, in simple English, philanthropy.
Dangote sits atop the Dangote Group. Elumelu is chairman of the UBA Group, Transcorp Plc and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). They both have something in common: giving. They share this with Geregu Plc Chairman Femi Otedola and South Atlantic Petroleum chairman Gen Theophilus Danjuma.
The NPOM Award was instituted by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment to honour deserving Nigerians in recognition of their hard work and excellence.
Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige, in a statement to the honourees, said: “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has approved the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award on you in recognition of your high productivity, hard work and excellence.”
As of November 2019, Dangote had an estimated net worth of US$10.3 billion, sustaining his position as the world’s richest black man.
The owner of the Dangote Group has an internationally recognised reputation for philanthropy.
On October 25, 2018, Richtopia, a United Kingdom (UK) based digital periodical that covers business, economic and financial news, named Dangote the sixth most charitable man in the world.
The recognition came shortly after the businessman endowed his foundation to the tune of $1.25 billion.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and J.K. Rowlings occupied the first three positions while Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk were in the fourth and fifth position respectively.
Dangote started his Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, in 1981 with a mission to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and well-being, promote quality education and broaden economic empowerment opportunities.
The Foundation was, however, incorporated in 1994 as a charity in Lagos. Twenty years later, it became the largest private Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa with the largest endowment by a single African donor.
The primary focus of the Aliko Dangote Foundation is health and nutrition, supported by wrap-around interventions in education, empowerment and humanitarian relief.
Among many others, the foundation gave out a whopping N2.5 billion, the same amount the Federal Government also donated for the purpose of ameliorating the sufferings of the flood victims during President Goodluck Jonathan era.
The Foundation, in line with its mandate to provide relief in times of disaster, spread its philanthropic works beyond the shores of Nigeria with a donation of $1 million to the government of Nepal. The gesture was meant to support the government’s efforts in providing relief to the victims of the earthquakes that occurred in the country.
In January 2018, Dangote bequeathed a $3.3 million complex to Bayero University Business School. In May 2018, Dangote donated 150 fully kitted operational cars to the Nigeria Police Force. In June 2018, he donated 200 housing units to Boko Haram victims – mostly women and children. In July 2018, he donated more than $800,000 to the University of Ibadan and in November 2018, he donated a $2.7 million hostel to the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.
In May 2018, Dangote said he wanted to be known as the biggest philanthropist in Africa.
“I do not only want to be known as Africa’s richest man but the biggest philanthropist. I will continue to use my resources and my voice to help shape a better Nigeria, and Africa as a whole,” he said.
Elumelu is one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, as well as the most prominent proponent of entrepreneurship in Africa.
The whole of Africa is home to his charity moves.
In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation, private-sector-led philanthropy empowering African entrepreneurs and championing African entrepreneurship on the continent.
The Foundation’s flagship initiative, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 young African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries.
The Foundation’s mission is inspired by Tony’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
Embodying this narrative in the private sector, Mr. Elumelu has built his reputation as a corporate turnaround expert.
He is credited for leading the largest merger in corporate banking history in Nigeria, resulting in what is known as present-day UBA Group, Africa’s global bank, employing over 30,000 staff and with branches across 20 African countries, London, New York and Paris.
In 2010, he founded Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa.
Today, Heirs Holdings’ portfolio spans the power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare sectors, operating in twenty-three countries worldwide.
Through Heirs Holdings, Elumelu is committed to the sustainable development of the African economy, channelling his investments and experience into improving lives across the continent, while changing the narrative of Africa.
Elumelu was 11th on the 2018 Richtopia list. He and Dangote were the only Nigerians mentioned on the list.
When Otedola – in an unrivalled act of philanthropy – donated N5billion (approximately $14 million) to the Save the Children Fund on November 10, it created what is being fondly called ‘The Otedola example’.
The donation, which was made through his daughter, DJ Cuppy’s Foundation, is believed to be the single largest individual donation to charity in Nigeria’s history.
It will support various intervention programmes for destitute children in Nigeria’s insurgency ravaged Northeast.
“God has been so kind, the only way I can show my gratitude to Him is to use my resources to support those who are underprivileged. This I intend to do for the rest of my life. In a world full of conflicts, diseases, calamities and inequality, we all need to show the milk of human kindness, to reach out and comfort the sick and give a helping hand to the weak,” Otedola said.
Otedola’s friend, Aliko Dangote added his donation of N100 million bringing the total donation to N5.1 billion.
The donation, maybe his biggest, was certainly not the businessman’s first.
In 2005, Otedola made a N300 million personal donation to the completion of the National Ecumenical Centre-Nigeria’s primary place of Christian worship-in Abuja.
In 2007, he was among a group of donors who gave N200 million to the State Security Trust Fund in a drive to reduce crime in Lagos State. Later that year he donated N100 million to the Otedola College of Primary Education in Noforija, Epe. In 2008 he donated N80 million to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt.
In October 2016, veteran actor Victor Olaotan, best known for his role as Fred Ade-Williams on long-running television drama Tinsel, was involved in a serious car crash.
The ghastly car accident left him unable to use his legs properly and in dire need of $50,000 to get the appropriate medical care overseas. Otedola reportedly agreed to take care of his hospital bills.
Otedola has been on record for picking up the medical bills of Christian Chukwu, former Captain and coach of the Super Eagles or the Green Eagles as the team was earlier known. He did the same for Peter Fregene (now 72), Nigeria’s former international goalkeeper (1968- 1971), among many others.
In December 2008, he set up the TY Danjuma Foundation. The Foundation’s principal aims are to provide durable advantages through the implementation of development programmes.
The Foundation operates more as a philanthropic organisation rather than simply as a charity. This allows for the foundation to seek out other deserving causes and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to partner with and make grants available.
The TY Danjuma Foundation seeks to alleviate poverty in communities by providing basic amenities, education for children and young adults while also providing free medical care for indigent people. $500,000 has been given out as grants to NGOs working to relieve suffering in Danjuma’s home state of Taraba.
Taraba is historically one of Nigeria’s most impoverished states, compounded by the absence of a health service which catered for the masses. Furthermore, the state has the highest case of river blindness and other debilitating illnesses.
The TY Danjuma Foundation is currently partnering with over 50 NGOs throughout Nigeria, and with the support and co-operation of 36 state governors.
One of the many NGOs, being supported by the Foundation, is CASVI working in Takum, Wukari and Donga.
CASVI’s main area of expertise is on the provision of free eye care services such as the treatment of river blindness in Wukari, Ibi and Donga.
“The foundation is a Nigerian foundation and, as a result, will support initiatives across the country. The rationale for commencing in Taraba was simply to fulfil the old adage that ‘charity begins at home’. Now that we have a chief executive on board, we will examine different communities across the country where we can make a difference. My vision is that the foundation will play a pivotal role in building a Nigeria where all citizens have access to quality health care, education and equal opportunities to realise their potentials,” Danjuma said at the TY Danjuma NGO Consultative Meeting in Abuja in 2010.
Special Report written by ROBERT EGBE published on The Nation