THE Aliko Dangote Foundation has inaugurated the Dangote village built for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The gesture has been described as another massive philanthropic gesture coming barley two weeks after the foundation donated 150 cars to the police.
The Dangote village is a self-sufficient set of 200 housing units worth N2 billion, with school, hospital, irrigation farms and poultry farms among others, to enable the occupants make a living.
Dangote also gave each of the beneficiary N100,000 to start a new life.
The foundation’s chairman, Aliko Dangote, said about N7 billion has been donated to support displaced persons affected by the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast.
Besides the N100,000 to start a new life, Dangote also pledged that the Foundation would take care of teachers’ emolument for five years and as well share in the burden of the ongoing educational revolution launched by the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima.
Dangote lauded the governor for ably running the state efficiently and paying salaries despite the security challenges.
A visibly elated Shettima said the intervention was unprecedented by a single company, describing the Aliko Dangote Foundation as the fourth arm of government in the state.
The governor noted that the Dangote Group is the single largest employer of labour outside government in Nigeria.
His words: “In every clime and in every dispensation, there are three layers of governments: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. I dare to add that the fourth layer in Borno State is the Aliko Dangote Foundation. For the past seven years, the Dangote foundation has been consistent and hearkening to the yearnings and aspirations of people of the state.”
He said the Dangote Village provided by the foundation, though very massive, it was a small noticeable part compared to what the foundation had done to support humanitarian relief in the troubled region.
“When Aliko Dangote came in 2016, he quickly pledged N2 billion. We requested that half of the money should be used to supplying building materials, and lo and behold, within the span of two weeks, all the materials were ready,” he added.
The governor said it was the support from the foundation that enabled most of the displaced and malnourished victims of Boko Haram insurgency to survive.
According to the governor, it was crucial to acknowledge Dangote’s generosity. He added that as far as he was concerned, Dangote is the world’s biggest philanthropist.
He revealed that most of the beneficiaries are widows and children.
“We call it Dangote village because it is a self-sustaining community with their own schools, clinics, mosques and livelihood,” he added.
He thanked all the donors and added that Borno State is now opened for investors. The state, he added, is more peaceful than Lagos and Abuja.
Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Prof. Baba Gana Umara said 95 per cent of the beneficiaries were widows, whose husbands were killed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
Prof. Umara is the chairman of the distribution committee for the new Dangote village.
He said the criterion for allocating a flat to the beneficiaries is to be a widow and having no fewer than five children.
Hailing Dangote, he said the reconstruction effort was now on and that the infrastructural deficit was still huge.
He said the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and World Bank had estimated that the infrastructural deficit caused by the insurgency in Borno alone was around $6.9 billion.
He expressed optimism that with the kind of support from the likes of Aliko Dangote Foundation, the state will bounce back to normal before the year 2020.
Chairperson of the State Emergency Management Agency Hajiya Ya Bawa Kolo expressed appreciation to the foundation on behalf of the Internally Displaced Persons.
She assured that only deserving persons are beneficiaries.
Ten beneficiaries were selected for symbolic presentation of certificates of occupancy.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aliko Dangote Foundation Zouera Youssoufou said the foundation would not rest on its oars to support the victims of insurgency.
Ms Youssoufou said earlier during Ramadan, food items were distributed to the IDPs include rice, sugar, salt, spaghetti, Semolina, wheat meal, maize and millet.
She said the philanthropic exercise was meant to complement the effort of the state and the Federal governments.