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Dangote Reveals Attempts to Sabotage $19bn Refinery Project

Aliko Dangote, the founder of Dangote Group, has disclosed that both local and international criminal organizations attempted to sabotage his $19 billion refinery project in Lagos. Speaking at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings, Dangote described these adversaries as a formidable “oil mafia,” more powerful than drug cartels.

 

Dangote highlighted the intense opposition his refinery project faced from entrenched interests within the oil industry. “I knew there would be a fight, but I didn’t anticipate the oil mafia would be stronger than the drug mafia,” he remarked. Despite these challenges, Dangote emphasized his resilience, noting, “I’ve been fighting all my life, so it’s part of my nature to persevere.”

 

The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of difficulty to the project. Dangote revealed that some international banks attempted to push the project into default, which could have doomed the refinery. However, support from institutions like Afreximbank helped prevent this outcome. “During the COVID period, some international banks were keen on forcing us into default, but thanks to banks like Afreximbank, we avoided that fate,” he explained.

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Despite these hurdles, Dangote has made substantial progress in repaying the loans for the refinery. To date, he has repaid $2.4 billion of the $5.5 billion borrowed for the project. Looking ahead, Dangote announced plans to diversify into the steel sector, aiming to use solely Nigerian-produced steel to achieve self-sufficiency.

 

The Dangote Refinery, which recently postponed its initial petrol sales launch from June to July 10-15 due to minor logistical issues, remains a landmark project in Nigeria’s industrial landscape. This refinery is expected to significantly reduce Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products, bolstering the nation’s economic independence.

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