Some decades ago, the popular practice was the registration of companies as Oni & Sons Ltd, Omole & Sons Ltd; Ajanaku Danaija & Sons Ltd; Odutola Brothers Ltd, and the likes. There has never been a company registered as Father & Daughters Ltd. One cannot specifically say what influenced those decisions, aside inheritance preferences promoted on account of the fact that female children would sooner or later be ‘’carried away’’ by one unknown man. This is one of the issues being tackled at the global level through statutes and international agreements and regulations.

It is sure that nobody dares complete that type of registration that amounts to discrimination these days of human rights and gender equality. Women too have found a way round the matter by hyphenating their names by including their fathers’ names before those of their husbands, to create identity and show that they at least belong.  And nobody can take that away from the female gender. Daughters have equal rights to inherit from their father’s property. Whereas, it is said that in Yoruba native law and customs,  wives had no right of inheritance in their deceased husband’s estate. The way a wife can inherit from her late husband is when a property given to her can be proved to be a gift

Thanks to modernization and the swiftness with which it is destroying some unacceptable issues. On April 14, 2014, the Nigerian Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, confirmed decisions of two lower courts, which had found unconstitutional, an Igbo customary law of succession excluding female offspring from eligibility to inherit the property of their fathers. As did both the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court found that the Igbo inheritance rules that exclude women from inheritance violate the country’s 1999 Constitution, confirming the decisions of the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, one of the five justices who heard the case, delivered the Court’s opinion in which he stated that no matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her later father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo Customary Law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate is in breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian.

FAILURE OF FAMILY BUSINESSES: Research indicates that failure of family businesses is a universal matter. In the United States, Family Business Institute has it on record that only about 30 percent of family-owned businesses survive into the second generation. Twelve percent are still viable into the third generation, and only about three percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. That is a society where man and woman are equal and discrimination is not permitted. But it is more pronounced in the developing world as a result of failure to adhere strictly by stipulated regulations and other reforms required to  keep family businesses afloat Several family businesses in Nigeria have, accordingly, collapsed after the death of their owners.

ALHAJI ALHASSAN DANTATA & SONS Ltd: DESERVES A CASE STUDY:   PricewaterhouseCoopers Survey Report published in the GLOBE MAIL tabloid points out that family businesses may be afflicted by poor succession planning, lack of trusted advisers, family conflicts, different visions between generations, unprepared next generation leaders, and poor strategic and governance structure. But a Nigerian family business that has proved all odds wrong in the Alhassan Dantata & Sons Ltd, that has survived in the Nigerian business circles for decades, and is still waxing strong as a family business.

 The owner (now deceased) appeared on the scene and commenced with the distribution of European goods as a business man. He also dealt in groundnuts and kola nuts. He was a supplier to large British trading companies and also did business in Gold Coast (now Ghana) Born in 1877, Alhassan Dantata  lived for 78 glorious years, packed full of numerous successes in the business world. Dantata originated from Kano. He received formal education in a Qur’anic school  (madrasah) in Bebeji. Kano. His share of his father’s wealth seemed to have vanished and he had to support himself. He faced obstacles but was determined to blast every rock on his path. Dantata worked, as was the tradition for a young Agalawa. He succeeded at the insistence of Tata in saving. His asusu, a “money box” (a pottery vessel) purchased by Tata, still exists in the walls of the house. He was a monumental success in business.

Alhassan Dantata managed a vast business empire and emerged the wealthiest man in West Africa. That was the same time that the Nigerian Stock Exchange had as its first President, Sir Phillipe Loius Odumegwu Ojukwu, believed to be the first millionaire in Nigeria, who also paid particular attention to the education of his children; and Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony, also a great philanthropist and sympathizer of humanity, who succeeded Sir Ojukwu as the second President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. An exporter and importer with strong business acumen, Alhassan widened his trade to include trading in beads, necklaces, European cloth, and trade goods.

Such was his influence and wealth that he had the means to go on Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca by boat  in the 1920s. By all accounts, says Dan-Asabe, Abdulkariu Umar  Dantata was hard working, frugal and unpretentious in his personal habits. He was also a good financial manager. He had the good sense to employ Alhaji Babba Na Alhassan who served as his chief accountant and Alhaji Garba Maisikeli as his financial controller for 38 years. Dantata did not manage from behind a desk but involved himself with his workers


From Saudi Arabia, Alhassan Dantata moved over to England and was presented to King George V, the then king of the United Kingdom, the British Dominions; and  Emperor of India.  At old age, he directed his children to ensure that his business would never die.  And Alhassan Dantata extracted that commitment. That was his final wish and his offspring have ensured the legacy lives on, and has even expanded tremendously 65 years after his death. It is interesting to assert that there is special gene running in the veins of those managing Alhassan Dantata & Sons Ltd

Today, Alhassan Dantata & Sons has become an octopus, with businesses dotting the landscape of Nigeria’s economy.  Dantata & Sons is involved in trade in diverse sectors including manufacturing, building and road construction, transportation, petroleum exportation, real estate, agriculture and other areas.  If genetic factors play roles in running businesses, Aliko Dangote, a grandchild of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata might have inherited from his grandfather, a dose of the spectacular business acumen of this great Nigerian. The fact is Dantata & Sons has refused to die not because of Alhassan Dantata’s directives. It is for the simple reason that successors and heirs decided to work probably harded that their father or progenitor.

POSITIVE VALUES:  Leading operators of the legacy —  DANTATA organization is Alhaji (Dr) Aminu Dantata OFR , with businesses, said to be worth billions of naira.  Aminu Dantata is a philanthropist and  goal-getter, with interests in oil and gas; and  is also one of the pillars and promoters of KANO FOUNDATION.  Under his leadership, Dantata & Sons Organization has become a multinational, with business interests in some West African nations. He joined the business early after his early education and by 1955 had gained immense knowledge about the vast business empire that earned him promotion to Sokoto District Manager of Alhassan Dantata & Sons. He was appointed to the board of the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank in 1964, after which he served as Kano State Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade and Industry from 1968-1973.


Our research on this monumental feat is ongoing, as it has the potency of teaching positive values to others involved in managing family businesses after the death of their owners. We certainly will learn some lessons from the successes recorded by this family business, that is marching on in the business world. Alhaji Alhassan Dantata was indeed a family man who loved his children and family members with passion. He was a ROLE MODEL.

A KPMG REPORT titled: ‘Nigerian Family Business Barometer contains insights from family businesses across Nigeria and draws comparisons and conclusions between the Nigerian, African and European family business community. A common factor in the document is the finding that: ‘’The future of the family members  maintaining the independent nature of the family business and the preservation of family unity depends on the growth of the family business and its capacity to generate sufficient profit for all its members.’’ Two very interesting issues arise in this account and they are: (i) Ownership and operational patterns of family businesses and (ii) collapse of several thriving family businesses after the death of their owners.

What is a family business? According to a publication by Conway Centre for Family Business, ‘’a family business is a commercial organization in which decision-making is influenced by multiple generations of a family, related by blood or marriage or adoption, who has both the ability to influence the vision of the business and the willingness to use this ability to pursue distinctive goals. Record shows that there are 5.5 million family businesses in the United States.  It is to be noted that this definition is silent on gender, apparently because of the advancements and modernization recorded in that society.

SITUATION IN DEVELOPED ECONOMIES:  Those who built family businesses and whose names still ring a bell after decades of passing on include John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.  Studies indicate that family businesses account for 64 percent of United States gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation. Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the American economy.  (Family Business Facts – Conway Center for Family Business) Examples of family businesses are: Cargill, noted as the largest private corporation in the United States; WalMart, Facebook, Oracle, Samsung, Volkswagen, and Koch Industries.

ENCOURAGING  STORIES  FROM NIGERIA: According to Forbes, the revenue of Koch Industries in 2017 was US$100 billion. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man and the current highest giver to any charity cause in the world, and his wife Melinda are positioning their children Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe to inherit their business empire not too long from now. The Nigerian equivalent is Aliko Dangote, the richest black man in the world, who is also positioning his daughters – Halima, Mariya, and Fatima to succeed him in his business empire.  I think Aliko Dangote deserves a lot of appreciation from Nigerian women for this unusual disposition to developing his daughters in the developing world, that still discriminates against women.

CHANGE OF GUARDS:  Those wonderful deeds have the capacity of changing attitudes of several people who are not favourably disposed to according their female children that type of recognition and encouragement that some Nigerians have given. .  Femi Otedola too has greatly encouraged his daughters such that Ifeoluwa Otedola – ‘’DJ Cuppy’’ at age Under-30 years already has a Foundation to cater for the needy. Mike Adenuga is also subtly withdrawing for Bella Adenuga-Disu. These young people are all practicing how to step into those big shoes of their fathers. This succession agenda commenced with the likes of Otunba Olasubomi Balogun and Basorun Kola Daisi withdrawing from their businesses to plant their sons and daughters in positions of successors. The Ibrus have also followed suit. It is very common in the legal profession in which people like Wole Olanipekun, SAN; manage same chambers with their children who will eventually take over.


  • If the correct statistics are taken, it would be revealed that only a fraction of parents pay particular attention to the development of their children.
  • Additionally, only a few organizations with parental responsibilities, like institutions of learning, religious bodies, civil society and philanthropists pay adequate attention to youth development.
  • Government itself that has the duty of creating an enabling environment must do more for the society to develop fully.
  • There must be changes in the attitudes of all about family values that largely dictate how a society develops and this is where the private sector comes in.  The concerns are, but are not limited to the following:
  • The civil society and civil society organizations including the media that shape opinions must take active part in forcing policy formulators and those who implement policies to sustain the mission and vision of the society/organization, the recipe lies in following the established procedures laid out for management for attainment of results.


  • It is the responsibility of couples/parents/spouses; organizations with parental responsibilities & Government to anticipate and prevent occurrences that derail family units.
  • It is better for a damage not to occur at all, than to go into crises management.
  • The reactive approach is more costly in terms of damages done, more expensive in terms of finances injected, and takes a longer while for the crises to be combated successfully.
  • Creating personal interest in the welfare of the target audience in the society would go a long way in solidifying relationships, and eventually promote societal growth


  • We are convinced that Nigerians generally, including citizens in all strata of the society, particularly family units, need to be mobilized for development.
  • Sensitize and educate the target audience on family values and responsibilities
  • A new attitude and a new orientation are required for sustainable growth and development.
  • We believe that every reasonable person must be socially responsible. Therefore, the society must collaborate to curtail criminal and social vices.



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