The battle of two Nigerian billionaires: Dangote, Rabiu lock horns - AMEBO NEWSPAPERS NG.


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The battle of two Nigerian billionaires: Dangote, Rabiu lock horns

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Two Nigerian billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Abdul Samad Rabiu are currently in a bitter war over their businesses and who controls the industry.

Dangote, Africa’s richest man is the owner of Dangote Industries Limited while Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group. The two billionaire businessmen had been locked in disputes several times, spanning three decades. The battle is simply about who controls the sugar and cement sectors and soon there will be a battle of who controls the oil sector as Rabiu is also building his own refinery, while Dangote had already completed his own.

Dangote owns the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimated his net worth at $16.1 billion in November 2023, making him the richest person in Africa, the world’s richest black person, and the world’s 107th richest person overall.

On the other hand, Rabiu is Dangote’s rivalry in the sugar and cement businesses. On 7 July 2020, Forbes estimated Rabiu’s wealth at $3.2 billion, putting him 716th in the global billionaire’s club. In January 2022, he was reported to be the second richest man in Nigeria. In April 2022 he was reported to be the fifth-richest man in Africa, with a net worth of $6.7 billion. In January 2023, Rabiu was reported to have become the 4th richest man in Africa.

According to Morebranches Dangote Cement is the largest cement producer in Nigeria, with a market share of over 60%. BUA Cement is the second-largest producer, with a market share of around 20%. The rivalry between the two cement companies began in 2008, when BUA Cement entered the market. BUA Cement quickly established itself as a major competitor to Dangote Cement, and it began to gain market share.

In 2020, the rivalry between the two companies escalated when BUA Cement accused Dangote Cement of blocking access to its limestone quarry in Edo State. Dangote Cement denied the allegations, but the case is ongoing in court.

The recent battle and media war between the duo was ignited on Thursday when Dangote, in an advertorial in the dailies accused Rabiu of sponsoring false reports against him and his businesses.

The Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) sharply refuted allegations that it is engaged in illegal foreign exchange deals, warning those peddling the allegation of economic sabotage against the company to desist from such underhand practices. It even mentioned the name of Rabiu in the said advertorial.

The company described the report as a rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice by a “competitor masquerading as a concerned Nigerian” in 2016.

But BUA Group, in a sharp response attacked Dangote, accusing him and his company of trying to ruin its cement and sugar businesses over the years.

The DIL made reference to unfounded allegation making the rounds in some online media, suggesting that the Company is being probed over alleged illegal foreign exchange laundering running to $3.4bn allegedly perpetrated by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele over the years.

Dangote’s company said as an organisation, it was not in its custom to respond to any spurious allegation, but  that “since it is a rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice by a competitor masquerading as a concerned Nigerian in 2016, we are constrained to provide context to this issue.”


“The reporting of this spurious foreign exchange allegation by some media houses was turned down by some credible traditional and online media news until it was featured as a paid advertorial in two Nigerian Newspapers BusinessDay and Leadership (Published on March 14, 2016) titled “Acts of Economic Sabotage by Dangote Cement” published in the name of David Osa Ighalo, from Benin, Edo State.


“It is saddening to note that this publication of Monday, March 16, 2016, in BusinessDay and Leadership newspapers wherein the author alleged that ‘monies went from the company in question to other sister Dangote Companies Outside Nigeria,” the DIL said.

The company said it was estimated that almost $3bn, if not more, had been taken out of Nigeria through these means.

“This encourages round-tripping and, in effect, money laundering since there is no proper documentation has recently been given a fresh false slant by one Ahmed Fahad, purporting it to be a new petition directed to the attention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr. Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator probing the CBN.”


BUA fired back in a statement, accused Dangote of cheap attempts at blackmailing the company. BUA alleged that in August 1991, “a young BUA was doing its commodities trading business just as Nigeria faced a scarcity of sugar. As sugar was scarce, BUA was lucky to be one of the few with any stock for sale, and we stood prepared to supply the nation’s needs as best as our stock could.


“It was during this period Aliko Dangote approached us to purchase sugar. If only we knew he was setting the first of many traps in our business history. He gave us a Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria Cheque, which bounced upon presentation to the bank. Unbeknown to us, this was a ruse that would lead to a court-sanctioned freeze of our assets orchestrated by Dangote. For three agonising months, our accounts were garnisheed, warehouses shuttered, and our spirit tested. Yet, from the ashes of deceit, BUA survived.”


BUA also alleged that a few years later, it decided that since it was making good progress in its various businesses, it should open a sugar refinery.


The company said they approached Usman Dantata,  Dangote’s uncle, and leased his NPA waterfront land (4.5 hectares) at the Tincan Island port, ‘Polo House.


“We took the land, signed an agreement with the consent of NPA, and paid all applicable dues. Dangote waited until our contractors and equipment had been mobilised to the site, then he went to former President Obasanjo. President Obasanjo had the land revoked entirely and gave the lease to Dangote. As a result, even his uncle lost the land. BUA was only given 24 hours to vacate the land,” the company said.


BUA said it took them over a year to get another land, saying that its survival as a business, especially its Lagos sugar refinery was a legacy handed to it by a loving father who, seeing his son’s distress, did what only the noblest and kindest of hearts could do.


“With unwavering faith, our Chairman’s late father–may his soul rest in eternal peace handed him the land on which our Lagos Sugar Refinery stands today. This land was the location of one of his thriving businesses with a warehouse, which he shut down handed to us without asking for compensation. He just saw the pain of our chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu, called him one day and handed him the papers to the land. His gesture was a beacon of hope in one of our darkest hours.


“And so, BUA survived again another Dangote trap. Today, we are now the largest Sugar refining concern in West Africa. Our businesses continued to surge forward amid several other attempts, too many to mention now. In 2007, under President Yar’Adua’s visionary mandate to broaden Nigeria’s cement industry and break the monopoly in the sector, BUA was among the six companies selected and granted licenses.


“Our approach was unconventional but effective: we introduced a floating terminal – ‘BUA CEMENT I’, which is a cement factory built into a large ship, as a stopgap while we were working on securing our land-based cement plant. What followed, however, was another act intended to drive us out of business. Our application to dock the floating terminal in Lagos met with resistance.


“We then decided to berth the ship at the terminal we owned in Port Harcourt. Despite this, we faced considerable pushback and it took the decisive intervention of late President Yar Adua, who directed that the Minister of Transport and the Chairman of NPA honour our right to contribute to the nation’s growth,” the company explained.


“But the hurdles didn’t end there. The drama intensified when Orwell Brown, a Deputy Comptroller General who was also an older brother to a Dangote Staff, launched a sudden strike, attempting to deport our vessel’s entire expatriate crew. It was a Friday that is forever seared into our memory-the shock of our expatriates rounded up, their confusion as they were shepherded onto a Dangote-funded one-way local flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos en-route Asia via Emirates.


“Upon hearing of what had happened, we reached out to Tanimu Yakubu, the then Chief Economic Adviser, who acted with the urgency that the situation demanded. His call to the CG of Immigration was a lifeline, and our expatriate team was brought back from the Emirates aircraft and not deported. The aftermath was swift action by the President, who ensured that such a misuse of power would not go unchecked. DCG Brown, caught in a tangle of undue influence, admitted what he did to the Minister, and he was later dismissed,” BUA added.


In April 2021 when the two billionaires from Kano state had a public spat over sugar, then Governor Abdullahi Ganduje intervened and reconciled them at a meeting in Abuja.


Maybe Governor Bala Yusuf will intervene this time around.

culled: PM News

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