As I viewed Channels Television’s broadcast of the commissioning of the US$300 million Aliko Dangote’sCongo cement plant recently, two issues raced through my mind. The first is Nigeria’s potential and huge human and material resources, God’s legacies of resilience, irrepressible commitment to the pursuit of chosen goals by the ordinary Nigerian, and ability to navigate difficult terrains of life. It wasn’t really the fact that the new plant, that costs $300m with a capacity to create about 1,000 jobs that fascinated me. What thrilled me the fact that Nigerians appear to be a special breed of strongminded adventurous people, who in the near future could conquer the world, if the country conducts its affairs properly. Dangote Cement has presence in now has projects in15 other African countries, with current capacity to produce 14 million tonnes of cement per annum and anticipated expansion to produce additional 11.1 million tonnes per annum. Alioko Dangote is an extremely humble and focused personality with a strong passion for the development of Africa and the Black race. His involvement in total upgrading of The Africa Center, Harlem, New York speaks eloquently about his craving for the good of the Black race. The closest I got to him was at an investment promotion outing with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005, in the Peoples Republic of China. At one of the sessions, I sat next to Aliko, the richest black man in the world who appeared very ordinary in dressing and conducts. His simplicity and humility baffled me.
Every well-meaning Nigerian should be proud of how some Nigerian businesses are being replicated in different parts of the world. President Muhammadu Buhari’s commendation at the Congo event through Dr. Kayode Fayemi said it all: ‘’Dangote is championing Africa’s economic renaissance’’ and ‘’It is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the innumerable issues plaguing Africa today; and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades is the infrastructure deficit.’’ Nigeria is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain a broad-based growth and development. As I reasoned further, Nelson Mandela’s opinion in that striking discussion with Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed burst forth: ‘’The world will not respect Africa, until Nigeria earns that respect. ‘’The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.’’ Indeed, Mandela was right. The strategic position and influence of Nigeria in Africa, over the decades, place great demands, burden and strains on the country as a model for several other African nations. Nigeria is widely regarded as the engine of the economy of West-Africa, a motivator of the African Union, and the catalyst of African renaissance. Such is the importance of Nigeria in global politics that it is believed that whatever happens in Nigeria has the possibility of reverberating to other nations in the African continent.