Billionaire’s Binge: Dangote, Rabiu’s Unending ‘War’
By Sola Sadiq
Dangote, Rabiu’s Unending ‘War’
The two men have few things in common. One, they are both billionaire businessmen playing big in the same sectors of the economy; both are in their 50s and what more, they hail from Kano State.
But that is where the similarities between Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Abdulsamad Rabiu end. They are not only fierce rivals in the business world, in fact, the word out there is that both quiet, reclusive men are not on talking terms.
The rivalry, it was learnt, go way back, but reached its peak during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007 – a period that was described as the turnaround years of Dangote in business.
Many recall that was the period Dangote diversified from trading in commodities, including cement, rice and sugar, to mention but a few, into manufacturing these products in line with the backward integration policy of the Obasanjo regime.
The highpoint of his profile was the construction of the Obajana Cement factory in Kogi State, reputed to be the biggest cement plant in Sub Sahara Africa. He also operates multimillion dollar cement plants in Cameroun, Senegal, Ethiopia and Zambia.
Samad, the Executive Chairman of BUA Group, is also not a pushover in the cement business, as he owns the Northern Nigeria Cement Company and Africa’s biggest floating cement manufacturing plant located in Apapa, Lagos.
Not a few however agree that the then government generously favoured Dangote in terms of granting him regular import waivers and forex incentives, which enabled him a huge leverage over and above his rivals like Rabiu, for as a source describe it: “The Obasanjo government, advertently or inadvertently, stifled Dangote’s rivals like Rabiu, Olu Fagbemi and Cletus Ibeto.
This trend continued under the late Umaru Yar’ Adua’s government unabated.
But following the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Rabiu allegedly wrote a petition to him, detailing how policies of successive governments in the last two decades have “unduly” favoured his kinsman.
While the two billionaires have kept mum over their alleged rivalry, they remain, unarguably, Nigeria’s biggest players in the cement business, with Dangote adjudged the undisputed number one!