My condolences on the passing of Alhaji Sani Dangote. I knew him from a distance but he once did me a favour that I have never forgotten, marked as that episode was by his humility, kind-heartedness and simplicity.
I was Special Adviser, Media and Publicity and Official Spokesperson to President Goodluck Jonathan at the time. The President had been invited by the Government of the Republic of Kenya to address the Kenyan Parliament on some special occasion. He had done the same thing in Jamaica, and in Trinidad and Tobago. The President always wanted his presentations prepared in advance and in published monograph form to be distributed to his audience. For the Kenyan trip, the printer disappointed us. He said the monographs would not be ready until the morning of the President’s address in Nairobi.
I could not go to my boss to tell him his presentation was not ready.. I was not in a position to change the programme either. I think I ran to State Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Jamil Waziri. “Almajiri, that’s what I call him, help me…” Waziri told me he had heard Sani Dangote would be heading towards Southern Africa, after our departure, and I could call him to help me collect the monographs from the printer and deliver to me in Nairobi on his way to his own destination. Call a billionaire and send him on an errand? I was desperate.
I called him. I was pleasantly surprised Sani Dangote not only agreed, he also liaised with the printer, stopped over in Nairobi and got the monographs delivered to the hotel. This was one of those tense moments. A few days earlier, Baba Obasanjo had written one of those his public letters against my boss. We fired back. Only for the Baba to show up at breakfast the following day in the President’s suite in Nairobi, looking at everyone straight in the eye, drinking tea. If anything had gone wrong with the presentation in the Kenyan parliament…only God knows…
Thank you, Alhaji Sani Dangote. Travel well. May God look after your family and loved ones.