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  • Updated: June 18, 2024

How Dangote resisted international pushback to build world's largest refinery in Nigeria – Report

How Dangote resisted international pushback to build world's

Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other informed sources have revealed that the worldwide and local oil mafia, along with foreign financial interests, made many steps to thwart the establishment of the largest oil refinery in Nigeria, as reported by Empowered Newswire.

At the Afrexim bank Annual General Meeting in Nassau, the Bahamas, on Friday, Dangote disclosed this information in an interview.

In the centre of Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, is the 650,000 bpd Dangote Refinery.

He said he didn't know until he started developing the refinery that the drug and oil mafias were more powerful than one another, while noting that the oil mafias supersede the former. 

In an interview with CNN's Eleni Giokas, Dangote discussed how efforts by foreign and Western financial interests to obstruct the refinery's construction had been made. 

However, the businessman from Nigeria said that CNN had purposefully omitted those remarks when the interview was released.

"They tried all sorts. But you know like what I told you in our interview. I told you that I’m a person that has been fighting all my life. So I think it’s part of my life to fight", the Nigerian businessman said during the Q&A at the Afreximbank AGM.

Dangote explained the pushback from many places to not build this refinery, saying: "I suppose the luck that I had in having the refinery done was because people thought we were insane. It will not happen. 

"So I think the people who were sort of sabotaging us, they were less concerned because they knew that these guys have entered into something that they were not going to be able to finish. So they didn’t bother much.

"They thought we were going to fail so I must thank a lot of our bankers for not panicking. The issue is, and I must state this not because President Oramah is here, that this refinery wouldn’t have been possible without Afrexim Bank. I think he is one person who has so much belief in the refinery himself, and then the other gentleman is late now, Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank but President Oramah, is more convinced than some of my staff. 

"He’s more convinced because when we took him there both him and some of his board members, they became so much sort of convinced this is the right way to go", Dangote said.

Dangote then pointed out how CNN suppressed his words in a prior interview, which was also conducted with Giokas during the AFREXIMBANK AGM.

He said, "I must honestly tell you that, which I told you in the interview even though I didn’t see that part, I said that you know without the likes of Afrexim Bank, an African finance corporation it will be very difficult for us to industrialize because you need to go to banks that do understand your language, do understand your issues, your programs, forget about all the other banks. 

"All the other banks only come in for taking us to the market, raising bonds, raising whatever you know and a lot of them, especially during the Covid, that they believe that we were going to stop somewhere. The COVID would’ve stopped us actually from constructing the refinery. They all left but now they’re coming back when they see the food has been cooked. The food is cooked, it’s on the table."

Dangote recounted how Saudi oil interests attempted to dissuade him as well. 

"But to tell you the truth, I learnt a lot because I know that four years ago I was in Saudi Arabia during the fasting time and I was invited to the Iftar dinner, which is the breaking of the fast, and Dr. Farley, who used to be the minister of energy invited me to just come and break the fast with him and I went there. 

"He just said, “Aliko I heard that you’re planning on building a refinery. What capacity?” I said 650,000. He kept quiet for a while and said... 'but my advice to you is not to do it because normally refineries are built by major corporations or sovereign countries.' 

"I said Your Excellency, but unfortunately we have already started so I’m not looking for advice. That was really how we continued. But to tell you the truth, it was very very scary", he added.

In terms of acquiring cash to finish the refinery, Dangote stated that he borrowed $5.5 billion but was turned down by foreign banks.

He explained: "When you look at it when we were building the refinery....first of all, we knew that yes, if we had gone with the idea of doing a project financing, the international banks would have actually shut it down. Shut it down in the sense that may be they might have asked me for my great grandmother’s certificate of birth, which I don’t think I will be able to find it anywhere. 

"So what we did was to go in terms of borrowing the money based on our own balance sheet and you know that time naira was very strong and that was how we went through. So we got the money, borrowed the money based on our own balance sheet.

"We borrowed $5.5 billion. But I know we paid also a lot of interest as we go along because the project was delayed (due to)  lack of land you know also the sand fillin. It took a long time. Almost six years or so we didn’t do anything. So it was actually five years it was actually in 2018 we started. 

"We have borrowed that much and we have actually paid interest and some principal of over S2.4B. Yes, we have done very well. We now have only about 2.7 billion left to be paid so we have done very well for a project of that magnitude."

On a good note, Africa's richest man commented. "We will end up winning because the population and the government will be on our side because what we are doing is right." .

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