Aliko Dangote faces toughest political challenge despite opening Nigeria refinery

Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote faces toughest political challenge despite opening Nigeria refinery reports Financial Times

After years of delay and cost overruns, the 650,000 barrels a day refinery in Nigeria owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, processed crude oil for the first time this month, marking the first operational step for a project he has dubbed a “game changer” for the country.

The $20bn facility on the outskirts of the commercial capital Lagos produced diesel and aviation fuel, said the Dangote Group.

Petrol production has not yet begun and the plant’s products are not expected on the market for some time, although the company said a fortnight ago it expected to win regulatory approval “this month” to begin selling them.

If it becomes fully operational, the refinery could process half of Nigeria’s daily oil output.

Yet what should be a moment of pride for the country’s most important industrialist is being overshadowed by a raid on his headquarters as part of a graft probe into the central bank, which poses the biggest test yet of his staying power after enjoying political favour for more than two decades.

“Someone clearly has an axe to grind with him,” said a senior member of the ruling All Progressives Congress party. “No agency in this country would raid Dangote’s offices if they did not feel they had the backing of someone very powerful.”

Such a move would have been unthinkable only a few months ago under former president Muhammadu Buhari, with whom he enjoyed excellent relations.

Yet this month agents of Nigeria’s independent anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, raided the Dangote Group’s Lagos office.

Ostensibly part of a sprawling investigation into alleged mismanagement of foreign exchange allocations by a former central bank chief, Dangote’s company characterised the EFCC agents’ visit as a ploy designed to cause “unwarranted embarrassment”.

Such is Dangote’s reach and influence that he is feted across much of the continent by presidents and prime ministers.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Akelicious

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *