Wednesday, July 11, 2012





Saturday, June 23, 2012



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Leaving Lagos for Kano in 1980 as a young high school graduate was something I hadn’t planned. I left Owo for Benin-City to live with my half-brother, Dare who was then a banker. Somehow, I was not happy with working at the Brewery in Benin City so I moved to Lagos. Then a friend sent a message to me that Northern Nigeria was fun to live and work so I contacted the friend I was on my way to Kano. I didn’t know where I was going in particular but knew I wanted to footloose and get away as a young man, so the urge for adventure took hold of me and I decided to go to Kano. During the three-day journey by rail, I ran into an old town man of mine when I got to Kaduna and we soon became so acquainted that he asked me to come live with him on Niger Road in Sabon-Gari Area of Kano where most foreigners live in the ancient city.                                                                                                                             Meanwhile, I didn’t know that my half-brother whom I left behind in Benin City few months earlier had also left the South for the North. We were in the front of the house of my host on Niger Road one day when I saw Dare approaching me. I thought it was a dream. We embraced. He asked me to come join him at Balat Hughes Road in the same Sabon-Gari where he was living with his folks from Ijebu from his maternal side of the family. At Balat Hughes, the Ijebu communities there were a closely-knit folks who looked after one another. There, you felt at home as if you were really in Ijebu land. The popular delicacy of the Ijebus known as “ ikokore” was always available. Soon, my step-mom came from the South and was surprised to see me with Dare. She asked if the whole journey had been planned and was I in the know of the circumstances that brought her son from Benin-City to Kano. Of course, our meeting was rather fortuitous because Dare never told me he was planning to leave for Kano when we were in Benin neither did I tell him I was leaving Lagos for Kano. It was through Dare that I left Kano for Tiga Village and ended up working for the Dantata family.                                                                                                                              Dare was always aiming high. We discussed at length the opportunities of “making it” in Kano and he told me matter-of-factly that he would not work for anyone or company in Kano except for the Dantata Organization and every day, he would ask me to follow him to the sprawling offices of the millionaire on Ibrahim Taiwo Road. “Aburo-meaning brother-if I don’t work for this man and make it here, I won’t work for any one,” he would say grinning. Although he made another exception, which he would reluctantly mention: another Kano millionaire: Rabiu Group of Companies he would work for in the event of his inability to be employed by the Dantatas.                                                                                                                        The rumor was that the Dantata Family made their money by printing Naira-Nigeria’s currency. Even in Southern Nigeria, people used to say that the Dantata’s had the Nigerian minting machine stationed right in their Koki Quarters in Kano through which they printed their own money and because they are Hausa people, they could not be arrested by law enforcement agents. The impression was that if anyone could just manage to secure employment with the company, he could make it like the Dantatas.                                                                                                                          The foolish idea that the Dantata Family owned its own printing and minting machine was laughable but we were young and uninformed in those days, so rumors thrived in the absence of good and reliable information. But as I later learned, there is indeed an iota of truth in that rumor. It was true that one of the eldest Dantata’s who was Aliko Dangote’s uncle was sent to prison the year Aliko was born in 1957 for currency forgery, money laundering and counterfeiting. The scandal rocked the Dantata Family in Kano to its very foundation and has since become a reference to the shadiness and clumsiness of the Dantata wealth. The conviction of Dangote’s maternal uncle, Alhaji  Ahmadu Dantata for money laundering in 1957 by the colonial authorities was a stain the family which has not been completely washed off and the blemish soon became the fodder for the rumor that emerged later. While the conviction and 5-year imprisonment- Alhaji Ahmadu Dantata was not released until 1962- has been played down by those intimately familiar with the event in Kano, late Alhaji Ahmadu Dantata has been able to reduce the damage because, as soon as he regained his freedom, he was told by his other Dantata Brothers to join politics. The Northern People’s Government-NPC- led by the late Sir Ahmadu Bello that orchestrated his release told the family that Ahmadu must cross-carpet from the NEPU to NPC if he wanted to redeem his name and the name of the Dantata Family. He could also be re-tried by the NPC government after Nigerian independence if he did not play ball so Alhaji Ahmadu Dantata agreed and joined the NPC. He contested and won a seat in the Kano Native Assembly and through that, succeeded in repairing the damage he did to the Dantata Family. In Kano, this ugly incident was a no-go area and indeed, no family member was ready to discuss that scandal during our research for the book on the late Ahmadu Dantata ‘s cousin. This background is necessary in order for the readers of our forthcoming book: “Aliko Mohammad Dangote, the Biography of the Richest Black Person in the World,” to understand and know the research that went into the book.                                                                                                                                          In those days, the means of communication and information outlets were scarce or virtually non-existent. We are talking of the late 1950s and the year 1957 when Aliko Dangote was born. It was possible that Aliko Dangote himself as a young man may not have been told that one of his uncles was once jailed for money laundering, forgery and counterfeiting. In the absence of reliable information, the felony charges had been twisted by local folks in ancient Kano. Even many of those old enough when the incident happened could not state exactly the whole saga that Alhaji Ahmadu Dantata went through. The Kano Museum was helpful in sourcing through the maze of uncertainty and confusion over the ordeal that one of the Dantata’s went though. This was what informed my half-brother’s insistence to work for the Dantata Family when we arrived in Kano in 1980. 
  We eventually got the job and were handed over to a Briton and told to go to the Dantata Family Farm; Anadariya Farms in Tiga near Bagauda Lake Hotel. We initially demurred thinking the corporate head office in Kano was where the action was until a fellow worker told us we would not do anything in Kano except pushing paper files. “Guys, the farm is where the action is,” he counseled. “Major decisions are taken in that farm and Alhaji hardly comes here when he is town but people go to the farm to meet him at that farm. Besides, you get everything free at that farm.” He was right because we enjoyed farm life at Anadariyya and each time I think about the “kundi” (gizzards) we normally ate free and all weekend, those were the days I would not forget in Kano. In addition, when I think about the Filipino girls that were our companions and the jokes of our British boss, and other co-workers of other nationalities, Tiga life was fun indeed. Each time I discuss with Dare-now in Toronto, Canada -when I call him up from Chicago and we relive those experiences, we crack up numerous times. But did we strike gold at Dantata Farms as Dare anticipated? Not really, but my Tiga experiences were to come in handy three decades later as I prepare to co-author the biography of one man who once was mistaken for a Dantata: Billionaire Aliko Mohammad Dangote.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012



I celebrated my 50th year anniversary last week Friday, March 16, 2012 to be precise. During my anniversary, I used the milestone to reflect on my life and my native Nigeria. I have been involved in the political history of Nigeria as far back as the 1970s while I was a young 17-year old high school graduate in my native town of Owo in Ondo State, Western Nigeria. I still remember my participation in the governorship election of the late Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin, the first democratically-elected governor of the defunct Ondo State in 1979. I had just made a Grade A Distinction in my WASC and with my good friend then, Ayo Josiah, we were recruited by the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) as field organizers. We accepted the job because we had nothing to do but more so when Papa Ajasin, the UPN governorship candidate was from our home town of Owo. Our "duties" were to accompany Mr Folayan, the driver of one of the Volkswagen Vans in the campaign pool to everywhere he went and "jazz up" the Ajasin Governorship Campaign. We would compose songs and play music for our candidate and praise the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo the Presidential Candidate of the UPN and of course, our man, Papa Ajasin. We were also good at composing anti-Ogunlade political songs, and anti-Shagari choruses, the governorship candidate of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in Ondo State and NPN Presidential Candidate in the 1979 elections respectively. The period of our employment was between June and September, 1979. As I indicated above, we had nothing to do as newly-graduated high school students waiting for the release of our WASC results.
Later on, I left Ondo State for Lagos and later for Kano, Jos, Kaduna, Maiduguri and virtually all the then states of Northern Nigeria. Between October 1979 and January 1981, I had toured all the states in the Northern part of Nigeria as a 19-year old boy in search of adventure. I had lost my parents very early in life and had become a drifter so to say and in retrospect now, I tell my wife and two boys that those two years were my "two years of wilderness." But those "years of wilderness" have come to be highly beneficial in my understanding of power, politics and religion in Northern Nigeria. As I always tell my journalist colleagues in Lagos, you can't understand the complex web of the political complexities of the Hausa-Fulani and the dynamics of the inter-play of religious and ethnic forces that shaped them if you have not visited, lived and interacted with them. This is why I have an uncanny understanding of these centrifugal forces in many of  the analyses of the politics of Northern Nigeria. My first lessons in these areas were fudged during those "wilderness years" that I lived in Northern Nigeria.
I was to go to the University of Lagos thereafter, had fun as an undergraduate student, played student union politics, became the president of the University of Lagos Students Union in 1985 and thereafter became a journalist. My journalism years afforded me the opportunity to travel once again across the length and breadth of Nigeria beginning from 1985 when I was a reporter and feature writer with the defunct National Concord Newspaper owned by the late Chief Moshood Abiola, the winner of the first and only freest and fairest presidential election in Nigerian history. Of course, Nigerians with firm grasp of history still remember my years as publisher and executive editor of the defunct Razor magazine, the struggle for the de-militarization of Nigeria between 1993 and 1998 and the concatenation of events that led to the second coming of Mr Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and the meteoric rise of Mr Aliko Mohammad Dangote to a world class billionaire.
I have given a capsule summary of my first 37 years in life in such a brief spam while the rest should be devoted to my years in the United States and the West.


Among some of my colleagues in those days at the university are those in leadership positions in Nigeria today. My non-involvement is deliberate and the reasons I will share with my readers in this blog if you continue to follow me. Since nearly fifteen years now I have been living in the United States, I have traveled more than half of the states in the Union and what I have seen and discovered about this beautiful adopted  nation of mine are monumental. When you reach half-journey of your earthly life, it is necessary to do a mini stock-taking. I initially made up my mind to wait until the appropriate time  to write about Nigeria and the "untold story" of that country but my American wife continues to advise me not to wait anymore. It is not as if I am going to die soon but many of the personalities involved in  those landmark events in Nigeria that I want to refer to are dying so how about disclosing some of these historical narratives early now that some are still alive?
"I need to do this background in order for readers of the biography of Aliko Mohammad Dangote which I have just co-written to understand the angle we approached the man's biography. I am 50, Aliko will be 55 next month. That means the man is just 5 years older than me. That also means I have known this man at least for nearly 30 years. I had my first job in Northern Nigeria in his uncle's farm at Anadariyya Farm in Tiga, Kano near Lake Bagauda Hotel in 1980 which I referred to above as one of my "wilderness years." I did not know young Aliko Dangote as a billionaire in 2008 via Forbes magazine. I heard about him and his story at Anadariya Farm in Tiga in 1980 when he was just 23 years old. "

For any one to write the biography of a world class citizen and important man like Aliko, you must know him when he was "nobody." When I used the word; "nobody" I meant when no one knew he was a millionaire not to talk of when he is now as a billionaire. The Lagos-Ibadan  press boys and girls came to know Aliko Mohammad Dangote in the New Millennium, precisely from 1999 when Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo was brought from prison by the Kaduna Mafia/Northern Military Cabal led by Gen Ibrahim Babangida and Adamu Ciroma to become president as a sop to the Yoruba's grief over late Moshood Abiola. I knew, heard and interacted with the maternal family members of young Aliko  from afar as early as 1980. As a biographer, I have to establish my credential first as someone competent to write about my subject. Consequently,my  going back to Kano in 2010 and 2011 to update information and facts about the rise of Aliko Mohammad Dangote to billionaire land was of a sort of home-coming. In 1980 when I arrived in Niger Road, Sabon Gari Kano, Northern Nigeria, I never knew that the interactions I had with people of that great and lively city would come in handy thirty years later. When Dare, my half brother convinced me to follow him to Anadariyya Farm in Tiga near Bagauda Lake situated along Kano-Jos Road later that year, I never knew the man I would work for was Mr Aliko Dangote's uncle. Mr Sanusi Dantata was always on the go and the British general manager who controlled everything was the person we as workers had to deal with most of the time. Mr Aliko Mohammad Dangote himself was only 23 years old and yours truly was just 18 years old. Being exposed very early to the Dantata family gave me a vintage opportunity to hear things,interact with those who knew the family well and what's more; I once worked for the Dantata Family at Anadaiya Farm in Tiga. TO BE CONTINUED

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Hi Guys,
We have sent out press releases on the forthcoming block buster which many people around the world are waiting to read. I am talking about the first and only biography of Mr Aliko Mohammad Dangote, the richest black person in the world. Since the press release has been carried by some of the largest blogger in Nigeria and Ghana (South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and other African countries will follow very soon), we-I mean my co-author, Dr Margie Marie Neal-have been receiving tons of email from anxious readers-who want to either review the book or have a personal copy. At the last count, the number of our fans in Africa alone have reached 856,000 alone in Nigeria and Ghana based on the visitors to nearly 40 blog sites that have featured the press release. Most importantly, we -again each time I use that plural I am referring to my coauthor as well-want to thank Linda Ikeji for her wonderful assistance in spreading the word about this book. Next, we thank my former buddy Pastor Elvis Iruh who was the editor of my paper; Evening News and my Sports Editor in Razor in the 1990s who is now a pastor and publisher in The Netherlands. Between Linda and Elvis alone, we have counted nearly half a million stats to the press release. Its amazing how powerful and effective the social media have become in our contemporary world.  I have to thank my bookish friend and author, David Meerman Scott, the award-winning marketing strategist who taught me, literally how to use the social media for effective communication. There are numerous blogger who we owe debts of gratitude to and we shall be acknowledging them one-by-one as we wait for the release of the biography.           Here are some issues we will tackle and address based on the deluge of email we have received from potential readers  about the Aliko Dangote book in this blog. (Notice I didn't use the word "emails" because there is nothing like such a word in English. My professor at SUNY when I was in graduate school couldn't emphasize this fact over and over again few years ago when people who you know are learned, including educated journalists use the word "emails." Mail does not have plural and mail is not a letter so stop using the word. "All email" that is grammatically correct.).
1.People want to know if this Aliko Dangote biography was commissioned by Dangote or the Dangote Group?
2. Anxious readers wanted to know how we sourced materials for the book?
3. People who sent us email (remember again  its not emails..wanted to know if Aliko Mohammad Dangote gave us money to write this book?
4. How did we arrive at the conclusion that Aliko Mohammad Dangote is the richest black person in the world.
5. Are we eulogizing the man and are ass licks in writing this book because of the title of the book?
6. Who and who did we speak to in Nigeria about the book? Actually that should be answered in Question 2 above.
7.Did we unearth the secrets of Aliko Dangote's wealth? In other words, how did this guy make it?
8. What is the aim of the book?
9. Who are our target audience?
10. How much do Nigerians know about this man?
11. What is the man's private life?
12. Who is the REAL Aliko Dangote and did we make him stand up in this book?
13. When is this book coming out?