Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote marked his Diamond Jubilee yesterday, beating the closing gong for the N17 trillion Nigerian stock market. He promised to continue sharing his wealth with Nigerians.
At a colourful ceremony attended by corporate titans and key stakeholders in the capital market, a visibly emotional Dangote said he would continue to forge ahead with the battle to diversify the economy and spread prosperity.
Dangote’s companies, including Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Flour Mills and Nascon Allied Industries, are all listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Altogether, the four companies accounted for N2.923 trillion at the close of the market yesterday, representing one-third of the N8.87 trillion total market capitalisation of quoted equities. Dangote Cement is the largest listed company, with market value of N2.805 trillion, 31.6 per cent of total equities value of N8.867 trillion.
”We will continue to diversify the economy, working with the government to spread prosperity to Nigerians,” Dangote said.
He promised to ensure listing of his companies at the Stock Exchange to give opportunities to Nigerians and other investors to be part of his wealth.
“Very soon, we will start having our Annual General Meeting (AGM) in stadium, not halls, due to the large shareholders we will be targeting. We will be having up to two million shareholders in the next 10 years,” Dangote said.
The Dangote Group is involved in many high profile projects, including an oil refinery and petrochemical complex at the Lekki and Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) Lagos; agricultural projects and a fertiliser plant.
“What we are building today is more than 100 times bigger than where we are; this is what we are seeing in the next 10 years,” Dangote said.
He praised the stock market community for its “tremendous” support to the Dangote Group, stressing that the group will increase its investment in the capital market.
“The support has been very tremendous. The hard work is not mine alone, it is for all of us and I truly appreciate what the capital market community has done,” Dangote said.
Capital market chiefs praised Dangote for his immense contributions to the market, Nigerian economy and Africa.
Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) President Oluwaseyi Abe said Dangote had continuously demonstrated his love and belief in Africa.
“Alhaji Dangote is a true African man; he has demonstrated his belief in Nigeria and entire African continent by the way he has structured his businesses,” Abe, whose institute regulates stockbroking, said.
NSE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oscar Onyema described Dangote as a Nigerian and African pride, who has made significant contributions to the capital market in many ways.
He said the Exchange continued to benefit from Dangote’s wealth of experience as an important stakeholder in the capital market. Dangote had served as second vice president, first vice president and president of the Council. He is an ex-officio member.
President, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Mr. Patrick Ezeagu, drew inspiration from Dangote’s humble beginning and utmost humility even as the richest man in Africa, describing Dangote as a man favoured by God.
“We consider ourselves lucky in Nigeria to have a man like Dangote; he is not only an asset to Nigeria, but entire Africa and the black race,” Ezeagu said.
He noted that in spite of his vast wealth and influence, Dangote remained an epitome of humility, who is widely accessible to all, personally and materially.
Ezeagu pointed out Dangote’s famed philanthropic activities that have helped to lift many out of poverty and redefine communities, including his immense support to the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“We pray God will continue to guide him,” Ezeagu said.
Doyen of stockbrokers and former president of ASHON Rasheed Yussuf said Dangote’s decision to celebrate his birthday with the capital market community was a testimony to the mutually beneficially relationship which has been evolving over the years between Dangote, stockbrokers and the capital market.
“I was the chairman of ASHON when Dangote became the president of the council of NSE; it was the most challenging period for the capital market. On one hand, the NSE was faced with a serious management succession crisis while, on the other hand, the market had to contend with the ravaging margin loans crisis. Dangote worked tirelessly with the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), leveraging on his numerous contacts to make presentation to the various levels of government functionality, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others, culminating in the setting up of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and eventual resolution of the margin loan problems. If the margin loan crisis had not been resolved the way it was, the collateral damage on the capital market operators and the market would have been so profound,” Yussuf recalled.
He also noted that as a strong promoter of local content development in Nigeria, Dangote took the pioneering step of listing most of his companies on the floor of the NSE, thus substantially deepening the market.
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