Dangote and AbdulSamad : Two Fighting Elephants which should have Benefitted the Grass -By Abdulkadir Salaudeen
The duo of Aliko Dangote and AbdulSamad Rabiu are business tycoons and captains of industry whose tentacles spread beyond the shore of Nigeria. They have made history by being among the richest people in Africa, nay, in the world. For those who are in the know, they are rivals in the world of business and their rivalry is historical.
The focus of this article is not the history of the rivalry but the rivalry itself which (if well managed) would possibly reverse the common saying that when two elephants fight the grass suffer. The two elephants proverbially means two strong and influential people; and the grass represent the poor and the weak masses. The truism of this saying is not questionable but the case of Dangote and AbdulSamad would have been an exemption if they had given the Quran a say in their rivalry.
The recent disagreement over Covid 19 vaccines whereby AbdulSamad planned to purchase one million doses through his company BUA is a new tantalizing episode in Nigerian drama. What many considered a welcome development as an individual is about to play a role which ordinarily should be played by the government. In other words, what the government could not provide in months (dragging feet unnecessarily) in her responsibility to protect our lives by making the vaccine available in time and on time, AbdulSamad planned to make it available in a week. Though, what he planned to provide is a fraction of what is required. Dont forget that Nigerias estimated population is about 200 million; He paid for one million doses which is in the whooping region of 1.3 billion Naira.
Unfortunately, however, his generous plan was scuttled by Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and a prominent member which many guess is Aliko Dangote. You need to know the brains behind CACOVIDs arrangement and formation to understand why Dangote is fingered as the prominent member. CACOVID argued that no vaccine can be purchased except through the Federal Government and can only be distributed through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency NPHCDA. It even denied that 1.311 billion Naira was paid to CBN by Abdulsamad through BUA. This, BUA debunked by providing payment slips which showed payments were made in three tranches to CBN as reported by Premium Times.
Furthermore, BUA, after a proof of payment of the said amount, replied CACOVID by means of admonition thus: dont play politics with Nigerian lives. It continued this is no time for politics. It is time for us to come together to help Nigerians and it does not matter who is helping or paying
If Dangote had fought back in a similar way which many of us had expected, it would have been a case of grass benefitting from two fighting elephants. We would have prayed earnestly for the continuation of the rift-a contest of generosity. Dangote should have, as a show of generosity and wealth superiority, paid for 2 million doses of the vaccines. This should have angered Abdulsamad and enthused him to build an ultramodern isolation centers in Kano. Dangote should have reacted by building similar center in Kano and in each geopolitical zones of the federation to let people know that he is not just a Kano indigene, but a Nigerian. This show of I am more generous should have been extended to education, housing, road construction, and other areas that are critical to human and national development.
Recall how contest of generosity between Abubakar and Umar led to the general happiness of the sahaabah (companions) during the life time of the Prophet. Abu Dawood in his report quoted Umar as saying: one day, the Prophet asked us to donate to charity, and I happened to have some money. I thought that this gives me an opportunity to outdo Abubakar, if I could ever do better than him. I took half of my property and gave it to the Prophet. He asked: what have you left for your family? I said: I have an equal amount to this. Meaning Umar shared his property into two: first half for charity; the other half for his family. Then Abubakar came with all his property. The Prophet asked him: what have you left for your family? He said: I have left them with faith in Allah and His messenger. I (Umar) said: I will never try to compete with you again.
In the contest in the above narration, who blinked first? It is glaring: it was Umar. It would have been interesting if that generous gesture of Abdulsamad was spiritedly contested by Dangote. But alas, the latter looked the other way. But lets assume there is a generosity contest between the two moneybags towards lifting out hundred million wretched Nigerians out of poverty since the government promised to do so but is yet to do so, who do you think will win or blink first? I reserve my own answer till when the competition begins. I know some of you have your answers already before the beginning of the contest.
Have they even agreed to contest? Lets hope they will contest. The good thing about this kind of contest is that there is no loser. Though, someone would definitely blink first. However, both contestants, if the contest is for the sake of Allah-are hopefully destined for Paradise. Umar, though surrendered to Abubakar, is surely for Paradise. Would Dangote and Abdulsamad take this challenge? I am not the one encouraging them to this challenge. If you think I am, I may not dispute it; but know that the Quran does so before me. I am only reechoing the Quran where it says: so for this let the competitors compete (83:26), so race to [all that is] good (Q2:148). Since they are both Muslims, they understand these Quranic verses; hopefully they will act accordingly.
Generosity is one of those traits by which the Muslims are known. There is one amazing story that Dangote, Abdulsamad and people like them should be familiar with. Dont get me wrong please! I am not saying these two men are not generous. There is no doubt, many people most have become rich through their kind generosity. What I am saying, if I can express myself clearly and clearer, is that their generosity is not good enough. They need to do more. Abdulsamad, for instance, would have channeled his money to other areas of Nigerians needs since CACOVID denied him spending for good cause. There are other ways of spending surplus that do not require certification of the Federal Government or distribution by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency NPHCDA.
Dangote shouldnt have played the politics the way he did if that allegation is true. He should have considered himself Abubakar Siddiq (RA) and should have likened Abdulsamad to Umar bn Khatab (RA). Though I learnt the two business magnates are rivals only in business but friends outside business. This, I appreciate.
In conclusion, they should appreciate Allah, then the masses. For they do not have money-shedding-trees in their backyards. They actually made and make their money through us. I did not say they exploit us; but we are the ones buying their sugar, cement; also their refineries which is about to come on board will not yield any profits without us. Next week, in Sha Allah, I will narrate that amazing story I mentioned above. It is a legendary story of an Arabian king who is considered the most generous man of all time among the Arabs. May Allah make us generous for His sake.