Opinion

Abdul Samad Rabiu: An industrial mogul at 60

When he was born on that day of August 4, 1960 in the ancient city of Kano, Abdul Samad Rabiu, was a normal child born into the home of famous businessman, the late Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu.

 

Although he had a rich background with the Rabiu family name ringing loud, Abdul Samad is a man who could be said to have charted his own path gloriously by himself. 60 years after his birth, he is today one of Nigeria’s biggest industrialists, a billionaire businessman, a philanthropist and of course, he is the Founder/Executive Chairman of BUA Group.

 

His BUA Group also gave birth to a vibrant social impact arm, BUA Foundation, whose importance has been highly highlighted since February this year, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit Nigeria.

 

BUA has committed itself to the war against the pandemic providing at least, 1 million people with food items to homes in Kano, 150, 000 food packs in Lagos, a truckload of Rice and 4000 cartons of pasta to Edo State and made donations in cash to the Federal and some state governments to help in combating the pandemic. He is also developing a 200-bed permanent special care facility in Kano as part of health infrastructure support and runs various health awareness and public service messages sponsored by the company.

 

That is apart from giving out about 34 ambulances to different states of the Federation so far. The company plans to give out more ambulances to other states in the next few days. Kano, his home state, got about 25 Hilux vehicles in addition to 5 ambulances. BUA has therefore become one of the highest donors to both the states and Federal Government in the fight against the pandemic. In Medical supplies, grants, cash, health awareness and infrastructure to fight the pandemic, Abdul Samad, through BUA has committed about N7billion.

 

But that is just a tip of the Iceberg in the life of Abdul Samad as an industrialist, businessman and a philanthropist. Although, he was born into a very wealthy family of the late Rabiu in Kano State, he did not sleep, with the knowledge that his father’s wealth paved the way for him. Rather, when he returned from the United States of America in the 80s with a degree in Economics, he joined  the family business, the IRS Group. But being self-driven, he set out on a path that would eventually make him famous on his own right.

 

Thus, in 1988, after being a part of managing the family business for some years, he founded his own company, which he named BUA. The seed, which he planted just over 30 years ago, has today become an oak, being one of Nigeria’s largest privately owned foods, mining, manufacturing and infrastructure conglomerate with diversified investments spanning across key business sectors of the Nigerian economy.

 

BUA, where Abdul Samad is the Founder/ Chairman, has steadily grown over the years to entrench itself as a leading player in the Nigerian economy, with vast holdings in cement, sugar, rice, flour milling and pasta edible oils, logistics, agriculture, mining & construction, steel and real estate. BUA Group is one of the largest contributors to Nigeria’s GDP and among its largest employers of labour.

 

 

He started off the BUA Group with importing and trading in major commodities like rice, edible oil, flour and also, iron and steel rods. That was before he ventured into steel, billets and iron ore importation and supplying to multiple rolling mills in Nigeria.

 

That seemed to be the tonic he needed in his forays into the big landscape of Nigerian business world. A man, who is not content with little, when more could be achieved, in 2001, he led BUA to acquire the Nigerian Oil Mills Limited. The company was at the time, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria. He later set up two flour milling plants in Lagos and Kano in 2005. By 2008, BUA, under Abdul Samad, commissioned the second largest sugar refinery in Sub- Saharan Africa. In 2009,

 

BUA acquired a controlling stake in the publicly listed Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (Sokoto Cement). Having also bought over the Edo Cement Limited, BUA went on to start the construction of the over $1billion cement manufacturing complex in Obu-Okpella, Edo State, which was eventually commissioned in 2017.

 

In July 2018, BUA commissioned the US$350 million Kalambaina Cement Plant in Sokoto State with a capacity of 1.5million metric per annum to improve cement export to neighbouring countries as well as contribute to the economy’s GDP.

 

By 2019 March, he would commission another 3million metric tonnes cement plant in Edo State. BUA has also recently invested about $300million in the 20,000hectares Lafiagi Sugar Estate project as part of the Nigerian Government’s Backward Integration Policy for the Sugar Industry.

 

There is also the BUA Rice Mill in Kano State, regarded as largest rice mill in Nigeria which is currently being upgraded to support the government’s policy on rice. Abdul Samad, a former Chairman of Tropical Continental Bank from 1993 to 2000 and current Chairman of the quoted BUA Cement, is driving towards expanding his already large conglomerate, which currently boasts of several subsidiaries.

 

Through the philanthropic and social impact arm of BUA, he has also contributed immensely to various philanthropic and social development activities in areas such as education, sports, and healthcare. One of such is the development of a N7.5 billion 200-bed specialist hospital in Kano State.

 

The hospital upon completion would cater for the interest of the less  privileged, who would have an opportunity to access world-class healthcare at their doorsteps. It is a testimony to his hard work, industry and dedication to helping develop the Nigerian economy and Africa that he has received many awards, including the 2016 African Industrialist of the Year Award by the All Africa Business Leaders Awards. He also holds the prestigious Nigerian National Honour of Commander of the Order of Niger (CON).

 

He was the 2018 Man of the Year of the Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of the New Telegraph titles. Abdul Samad is an apostle of ’Made in Africa’. He believes that is a way to fixing the continent’s employment crisis. This has played a huge role in most of his companies sourcing their raw materials from Africa.

 

“Why is Nigeria importing rice? Why is Nigeria importing sugar? We can do those things,”, he told Theafricareport.com in an interview, not without adding “We have a young, teeming population that needs jobs.” BUA currently has over 3,000 Nigerians in its direct employment, with thousands of others indirectly employed by its activities. For Abdul Samad, after hard work comes the reaping of the fruits.

 

Having survived the heady days of military dictatorship in Nigeria with his then budding company, BUA has passed through a lot of mine traps, obstacles and challenges strewn on its way to glory.

 

He did not join the bandwagon of mere importers but carved a niche for himself by becoming one of the key pillars of the Nigerian economy. It is instructive to note that when he joined the fray of cement manufacturing in the country, Nigeria as a whole was producing a total of 4m tonnes of cement per annum.

 

“Today, we have the capacity to produce over 40m tonnes. It has saved us so much hassle, not to mention the money we have saved and jobs we have created”, he said recently. As at today, BUA Group accounts for around 20-25 per cent of the Nigerian cement market. He is also thinking of venturing into steel production. “If you mine iron ore, your cost per tonne is $25; you need 3tn of iron ore for a tonne of steel, which sells for, say, $500 a tonne.

 

And that is just the basic product. As soon as you go into steel sheets, pipes, valves, you quickly hit $2,000-$3,000 per tonne.” For Abdul-Samad, it is a toast of success as he marks his 60th birthday today

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