By Adebayo Obajemu
Nigeria has an impressive number of billionaires who have made good with their lives, living large, driving exotic, posh, expensive cars, wearing Gucci attires and decking their wrists with Rolex and other exotic watches.
They are often seen partying in high society, and when they happen to be on the streets, they are shielded from prying eyes of the hungry commoners by tainted glasses of the push cars they drive.
Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu is in this class by reason of his wealth, but by inclination and fellow feelings, he is at home with the common people who love him because he stands for their cause, and whose lives he has touched by his uncommon philanthropy that does not recognize neither tribe nor tongue or religion – the usual fault lines that define relationship and patronage in Nigeria.
Though he has come a long way, quietly attending to his numerous business concerns that fan out to all segment, in many ways that attest to his own shrewdness as a man who understands the language and semiotics of capital, and how it can be put to use in a way that will make the Fabian Society and the most malignant critics of capital admire him.
This Kano- born prince of capital has a foundation that quietly tends to the needs of the society, especially the underprivileged and institutions.
Only recently he commissioned a N2 billion health centre at the Ogun State University in Ago Iwoye, in southwest part of the country. This and many others are a testament to his broad mind and ecumenical spirit.
He had recently built a150-bed health facility for the Nigerian police in Abuja, at the cost of N2.4 billion. Earlier in The year, he had commissioned another health institution in Akwa Ibom state. and Obviously, Rabiu’s worth is not in his billions but in his compassion and ability to supply needs of the needy without thoughts of a payback.
He is not a politician, but a social engineer who is interested in the transformation of the society in a way that will be livable for everyone, a creed we should all subscribe to without let.
His late father, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s.
He is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate concentrating on manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture and producing revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. He is also the chairman of the Nigerian Bank of Industry (BOI).
Rabiu was born in Kano in the north-western part of Nigeria, where he obtained his early education. He attended Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and returned to Nigeria at the age of 24 to oversee the family business. This was when his father Isyaku Rabiu, was being detained by the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly not paying rice import duties.
In a country where poverty metaphorically walks the streets, where opportunities are rare, and when available the twin evil of tribalism and religion vitiate their value, it is rare to see money bags who have shown interest in how to add value to the lives of the people.
Self -effacing and humble, Rabiu has shown the possibility of a renewal in spite of the climate of gloom and evil ravaging the country.
He has not only given jobs to thousands of Nigerians, but also quietly indicting others who have the means to add value but chose to do what the leisure class loves doing- partying away- according to the American sociologist Thorstein Veblen.
For every one interested in how to break even in the treacherous businesss environment in the country, the stubborn persistence, tenacity, uprightness, business strategy and lifestyle of Rabiu ought to be a classic case study and point of reference.
For one who has followed his trajectory, it will not take long to detect that he has the proverbial touch of the Midas in business, even as it can be stated without fear of contradiction that he symbolizes the proverbial cat with nine lives.
Despite being caught up in the country’s dwindling business climate with a hard typhoon and tsunami directed at him, he was able to weather the storm and retain his spot in the business.
It is no rocket science that to soar in the harsh business terrain in the country, one must have the heart and doggedness of a lion. He has also revived several struggling companies after taking them over, such as the Cement Company of northern Nigeria, which he has turned into a money spinner.
After enjoying a successful take-off in business, Rabiu took an audacious business decision by acquiring Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in the country. In 2005 BUA started two flour-milling plants in Lagos and Kano, which announced him as a force.
By 2008, BUA had broken an eight-year monopoly dominated by rival Dangote in the Nigerian sugar industry by commissioning the second largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2009, the company went on to acquire a controlling stake in a publicly-listed Cement Company in Northern Nigeria and began to construct a $900 million cement plant in Edo State, completing it in early 2015. He also has a stake in BUA Oil and Mill, BUA Estate, BUA Sugar, BUA Port, and terminal and BUA cement.
In early January 2020, Rabiu merged his privately-owned BUA Cement Company with listed firm Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria as the company trades on the Nigerian stock exchange with Rabiu owning a 98.5% stake.
After tenaciously trudging through that tough trial, fortune favoured him again and by 2013, he was back on his feet and once more on the Forbes rich list in 2013 with a wealth estimated to be $1.2 billion.
As the year 2020 sauntered in, Abdulsamad also found his way into the Forbes List as one of the richest Nigerians in Africa with a net worth of $3.1billion.