Do you want billionaire Aliko Dangote as the next Nigerian president in 2023?

Given his managerial knowledge and perfect understanding of the Nigerian economy, Africa’s richest man Alhaji Aliko Dangote is been tipped to run for 2023 presidential election. It wasn’t the first time such a call came up, a similar rumour came up before the 2019 general election.

The call could not have come at a better time. Nigeria needs someone who has the will to rescue the country from infrastructural decay, abject poverty and other social vices.

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Apart from having operations in Benin Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo, Dangote Group has expanded to cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight; Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Flour are some of the success stories of the founder.

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Aliko Dangote is worth N3,826,388,000,000 (US$10.6 billion) at the time of this report, making him the richest man, not just in Nigeria, but in the entire African continent. His romance with every government since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 is unrivalled. He has all the connections. He has the influence to make government adjust policies and has also gotten everything needed to boost his business.

But considering Nigeria’s political antecedent, can a billionaire like Dangote win an election in Nigeria?

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Political antecedent of businessmen in Nigerian political history

Dangote isn’t the first business mogul to romance politically with the ruling government. Late Chief M.K.O Abiola was as powerful as Dangote during his lifetime. Chief Abiola had a smooth relationship with all military administrations since the boom of his business empire in the 1970s, but things fell apart after winning the 1993 polls which were annulled by his ally Ibrahim Babangida, whom Abiola once described as a confidant.

Abdu Isa Kofarmata captures what befell Late Abiola in his “Open Letter to President Aliko Dangote” thus:

“The late philanthropist exploited all the opportunities available to enrich himself and emerge as one of the richest Nigerians, all at the expense of our teeming masses.

“He did this successfully by collaborating with military and civilian regimes in Nigeria. Late Abiola used to be the highest donor at any government occasion, and he enjoyed all government juicy contracts in return.

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“He reached his peak during the corrupt regime of president Babangida. At that point, he decided to contest for the presidency with a view to protecting his growing business and accumulated wealth. What happened?

“His election was annulled and the very people he spent better part of his life serving and protecting with his wealth jailed and subsequently killed him with no sympathy from the majority of Nigerians.”

The same military which Late Abiola wined and dined with allegedly plotted his downfall till he died in detention. During his detention, his business empire (Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club) began to crumble.


Late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua was another example. He was once described as a politician than a soldier. He was the second in command to the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo between 1976 to 1979. And was speculated as one of the richest Northerners at the time as he was involved in the purchase of several government companies and properties and enjoyed a lot of import duty waivers to his companies just like Aliko Dangote is allegedly enjoying now.

The current mileage Dangote is enjoying in the North the late Tafidan Katsina (Late Musa Yar’Adua) enjoyed the same during his lifetime.

It’s unfortunate that the same military that protected and helped his business empire grow was also responsible for his downfall when it was obvious that he was coming to kick out the regime of Late Sani Abacha through a civilian rule.

How it happened: Yar’Adua through some of his associates and his group formed the People’s Front of Nigeria when former military leader Ibrahim Babangida started his political transition program in 1987 even though IBB proscribed certain old breed politicians from political activities.

Members of the group included Babagana Kingibe, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Magaji Abdullahi, Ango Abdullahi, Ahmadu Rufa’i, Yahaya Kwande, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Wada Abubakar, Babalola Borishade, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, M.S.Buhari and Farouk Abdulazeez.

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The organization later merged with other groups to form the Social Democratic Party of Nigeria. People’s Front and PSP, became the two dominant factions within SDP. However, Yar’Adua’s group was very organized and able to win the majority of the elective posts within SDP.

What Dangote needs to learn from Late Musa Yar’Adua: Without exception, IBB summarily jailed Musa Yar’Adua in January 1992 for contravening decree banning certain persons from active politics. He was later released when the law was repealed.

And his political strategies took the country by storm when he was leading at the SDP presidential field before results were cancelled.

Members of his campaign group at the time included former PDP chairman Late Anthony Anenih, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Information Minister Dapo Sarumi, the incumbent National Leader of APC Bola Tinubu and Sunday Afolabi.

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The annulment prompted a new election which was won by M.K.O. Abiola. Unfortunately, it’s on record that the Yar’Adua faction negotiated an arrangement for the inauguration of an interim government after M.K.O Abiola’s victory was annulled.

The drama continued to 1994 when Yar’Adua won a seat representing Katsina to a new National Constitutional Conference, where he was outspoken, he was arrested later in Lagos at the Nigerian Union of Journalist office.

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His push for civilian rule continued even as Late Sani Abacha kicked out Earnest Shonekan in November 1994. This led to his arrest and others in March 1995 on allegations of plotting a coup to overthrow the Abacha regime.

He was sentenced to death by a military tribunal in 1995, after calling on the Nigerian military government of Gen. Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to reestablish civilian rule. The sentence was commuted to life in prison but died in captivity on 8 December 1997. Aliko Dangote needs to learn from this.

If billionaire Aliko Dangote is considering a shot at 2023 presidency, he also needs to read the history of how MKO Abiola was betrayed by those he thought was working for him. After Abiola was jailed, his running mate Babagana Kingibe took up several appointments in the regime of Abacha who jailed Abiola.

Are those calling on Aliko Dangote to contest for 2023 election sincere about it? Or they want his business empire to collapse like Abiola’s, Musa Yar’Adua’s?

Former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Emir Sanusi II once said the fact you’re a successful banker or businessman would not make you a successful Nigerian politician, “I have seen enough people being successful in their professional life and then go into politics and destroy everything they have built.”

We all witnessed the outrage that greeted his membership of APC presidential campaign before the poll before he was removed.

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I think Aliko Dangote should concentrate more on his business rather than dipping his hands into the dirty water of Nigerian politics. The fact that he’s a successful businessman isn’t a guaranty for him to succeed as Nigerian politician. He should learn from Abiola and Yar’Adua, learn from the fact that the cabal that promoted the two successful men allegedly plotted their political graves.

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READ ALSO: Can Lamido Sanusi survive in Nigerian politics?

Let’s hear your own views: Do you want billionaire Aliko Dangote as the next Nigerian president in 2023?