BUA Chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Becomes Africa’s Biggest Philanthropist

  • His Huge Impact in Education, Poverty Alleviation, Health & COVID-19 Eradication
  • Why French Government Honoured Him
  • How He Earned ‘Mr Talk & Do’ Tag
  • His Multi-Billion Donations to State Governments
    *Inside His Catalogue of Awards

Steadily, Abdulsamad Rabiu has evolved into Africa’s biggest philanthropist with his BUA Foundation and the phenomenal Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative established to support sustainable development initiatives in health, education and social development within Nigeria and the rest of Africa through its annual $100 million dollars grant. Often called ‘Mr Talk and Do’ by many Nigerians, Rabiu has shown that he is not just about making money but making it available as a resource for advancing a lot of humanity.
The ASR As A Game Changer In Global Philanthropy
Last March, industrialist extraordinaire and BUA Group chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, launched the Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative which aims to unlock sustainable development opportunities in Africa, by Africans, for Africans that would cater for various interventions in education, health and social development. The initiative started with a $100 million annual funding for Africa’s social development and renewal – $50 million would be dedicated to Nigeria yearly while $50 million would go to the rest of Africa.
He said, “It is with the blessings of the Almighty, my family, colleagues, the support of my community and the backing of my conscience that I announce the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative, with an Africa fund endowment of $100 million every year starting from this year, 2021.
“With the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative and its annual $100 million Africa Fund for Social Development, we are specifically extending this work to the education, health and social development sectors, starting with infrastructure and capacity development in these areas and supporting the efforts of various governments in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our broad focus is equipping facilities, our researchers, healthcare practitioners and community-level service providers, with the aim of providing sustainable solutions for generations to come.”
He added that as the world tries to claw its way back to business as usual, “the initiative aims to be a modest reminder to us all that until our health, education and other development issues are fixed, business as usual in these times, means business as brutal. We pledge to continue to do what we can to support ongoing efforts by various governments to bridge the development divide across Africa.”
Rabiu went ahead to announce an N1billion donation to six higher institutions in Nigeria – the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; the University of Maiduguri; the University of Ilorin; and the University of Benin. All the universities have got their NIbillion each. He didn’t stop there.
Early July, the ASR and the Kwara State Government, jointly announced the construction of the largest oncology and diagnostic centre in West Africa to be built with a N2.5billion ASR Africa Tertiary Health Systems Infrastructure initial grant recently awarded to the state from the ARS’s annual $100 million Africa Fund for Social Development and Renewal. The ASR Africa Oncology and Diagnosis Centre is a standalone facility dedicated to Oncology diagnosis, research and treatment which is expected to go a long way in bridging the gap in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment in West Africa. Construction is expected to commence on-site before the end of August.
Similarly, the ASR is supporting the construction of the Akwa Ibom State University Teaching Hospital with N5 billion for which N2.5 billion was disbursed immediately to commence construction. Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom said: “We are happy to receive the first tranche of N2.5 billion from the ASR Africa Initiative and the groundbreaking ceremony coming just two weeks after the N5 billion grant was announced signposts the seriousness we attach to delivering a teaching hospital that would be a model for others and one Nigeria would be proud of.”
Few days before then, the ASR awarded a $3million education infrastructure support grant to the Ghanaian Government through its Ministry of Education to support the eradication of ‘schools under trees’ whilst developing primary education infrastructure across the country.
In the same month of June, a subsidiary of the BUA Group, the BUA Cement Company had donated a school, hospital and other infrastructures worth N230 million to two relocated communities, Gidan Bailu and Gidan Datti in Wamakko Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The donated facilities comprise a school with two blocks of classrooms, an administrative block, township mosque, a clinic, two boreholes, a 30 KVA electricity transformer, township electrification installations and a cemetery.
According to the company, the facilities are meant to complement the efforts of the state government in enhancing people’s lives and to facilitate a conducive environment for the relocated citizens to dwell in good living conditions.
Rabiu’s Heart Of Gold
Often called ‘Mr Talk and Do’ by many Nigerians, Rabiu has shown that he is not just about making money but making it available as resources for advancing the lot of humanity. A Forbes-rated billionaire, Rabiu’s reputation as one of Africa’s biggest philanthropists was further reinforced during the corona virus pandemic that led to a cessation of socio-economic activities across the country. Amid the doom and gloom of the pervasive fear of the pandemic, and the flagging faith of Nigerians per their survival, the billionaire chairman of BUA, through his social impact and philanthropy arm, raised hopes and planted joy in the bosoms of Nigerians.
As at January 2021, The BUA Foundation had so far committed over N7billion in cash, foodstuffs and medical supplies amongst other things to the federal and state governments and various humanitarian agencies. Earlier, the foundation had donated 31 ambulances to Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Sokoto, Jigawa, Katsina, Edo and Kwara States as well as cash sums ranging from N100million and above to eight states and N300million to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19. Not forgetting that at the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria, he announced a donation of N1billion in cash through the BUA Foundation to CACOVID (the private sector coalition spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria and tasked with pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives with the sole aim of combating coronavirus in Nigeria) and also placed an order for an additional donation of equipment and medical supplies to many states in Nigeria.
The BUA Group, one of Nigeria’s leading foods and infrastructure conglomerates, went to announce that it had purchased one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the AfreximBank vaccine programme in partnership with CACOVID BUA is a frontline member of the CACOVID. A statement by the management of the conglomerate posited that the vaccine doses would be distributed to Nigerians at no cost
Why the French Government Honoured Him
For his commitment to developing lasting relationships between French and Nigerian businesses, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, had, in April 2021, appointed Rabiu as chairman of the France Nigeria Investment Club. This was on the heels of the signing of a bilateral agreement between BUA Group and Axens of France for BUA’s proposed 200,000barrels per day refinery in Akwa Ibom. The refinery will be completed in 2024 and it is expected to save the Nigerian economy from huge foreign exchange drain in import of petroleum products. The employment generation capacity is also huge.
To celebrate the deal, President Macron hosted the illustrious industrialist at his office in the Élysée Presidential Palace where they discussed the strengthening of economic and business ties between France, Nigeria and the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The French President expressed optimism that there were opportunities to be unlocked in the business relationship between Africa and France and that he looked forward to BUA Group being one of the African businesses leading that charge.
Just last week, Macron appointed Rabiu as the inaugural President of the French Nigeria Business Council, a private sector initiative to facilitate business cooperation between both countries, which was launched on the margins of the Choose France summit at Versailles on June 28. Other Nigerian members of the council are Gilbert Chagoury (Chagoury Group), Mike Adenuga (Globacom/Conoil), Aliko Dangote (Dangote Industries), Tony Elumelu (Heirs Holdings/UBA/TEF), and Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank). Also on the council are more than a dozen CEOS from some of the biggest French companies including TotalEnergies, Axens, Danone and Dassault amongst others.
The BUA Group chairman thanked President Macron for “his vision in creating the French Nigeria Business Council which has led to a reset in the business relationship between Nigeria and France and has created a viable platform for business from both countries to partner and improve business ties.”
According to Rabiu, “Nigeria is blessed with numerous potentials for French companies to do business across different areas, notably solid minerals, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, associated equipment, power, food processing, and even in the business of associated equipment or infrastructure for the value chains of these sectors.
“Where French businesses have formerly been risk-averse or outrightly unable to do business with Africa’s largest economy, they can now be assured of a platform through which they can penetrate and mutually grow the market. Where Nigerian companies had not seen French companies or the French market as a viable destination due to a lack of information, they can now be sure of a platform to facilitate this. This is all thanks to President Macron’s foresight and vision.”
The Awards Pour In
Named the Vanguard Businessman of The Year 2020, the respected newspaper’s Board of Editors stated, “In the search for the bests among the great corporate and individuals for recognition and honour, we received resounding recommendations on Abdul Samad Rabiu, Founder/Executive Chairman, BUA Group and Chairman, BUA Cement Plc.”
The Board of Editors also stated that a further inquest into Rabiu’s activities in 2020 indicated several bold initiatives in business development starting early in the year while ending the year in stallion performance. And in between while coronavirus raged, he has also been found in the forefront of the national fight against the pandemic in public interest.
“Besides his strong showing in the business world in 2020, Abdul Samad Rabiu, through the BUA Foundation, has also contributed immensely to various philanthropic and social development activities in various areas from healthcare to education, sports, water and sanitation amongst others. This year, he commenced the development of a N7.5billion 200-bed specialist hospital in Kano State.
“He has also championed Nigeria’s donation to the COVID-19 intervention by a single individual or corporate through the BUA Foundation with over $20million committed so far to mitigating the impact of the pandemic in cash donations, food supplies, medical supplies and equipment, grants, amongst others.”
There have also been several awards from recognised institutions at home and abroad like the 2016 West African Industrialist of the Year award at the All Africa Business Leaders Award (AABLA) organised by CNBC Africa. He also bagged the 2017 Silverbird Extraordinary Business Achievement Award by Silverbird Group.
The Kano Boy Who Made Good
The son of late Isyaku Rabiu, one of the richest and most influential businessmen in northern Nigeria in the 1970s and 80s, Rabiu was educated at the Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, after which he returned to Nigeria at the age of 24 to take over his father’s vast multi-million naira businesses.
After a few years of learning the ropes, he branched out of the family business and started BUA Group in the late 80s as a private company specializing in the importation and marketing of iron and steel, shipping, port concessions, real estate and agricultural and industrial chemicals among others. BUA’s big break came when it acquired the Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria. In 2008, BUA broke an eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry by commissioning the second-largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the years, the company has evolved into a massive conglomerate playing in a wide range of sectors including real estate, oil and gas and shipping while consolidating its cement business comprising the publicly-listed 2million Mtpa Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc (CCNN) and 6million mtpa Obu Cement Company Plc in October 2019. The consolidation was made in anticipation of enhancing the growth of the cement industry and boosting the Nigerian economy.
By the turn of the last decade, Rabiu had already become a certified billionaire. Instructively, in 2019, a year that saw many billionaires lose chunks of their money due to plunging stock prices and weaker currencies, with the number of African billionaires shrinking to 20 from 23 in 2018, he returned to the Forbes Africa’s Richest List. He was knocked off the list in 2015 but his rebound was facilitated largely, according to the influential American magazine, by the merger of his Kalambaina Cement firm with publicly traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled. “Rabiu now owns 97% of Kalambaina, which operates a new cement production facility, and started selling cement in mid-2018. Separately, Rabiu’s OBU Cement recently expanded its operations, adding a new production line,” the magazine stated.
Indeed, in 2018, the BUA Group commissioned its $350 million Kalambaina Cement Plant in Sokoto State with an installed capacity of 1.5 metric tonnes per annum and is the largest single private sector-led investment in North-West Nigeria. “With the consolidation and addition of the Sokoto Kalambaina II plant, this will bring BUA Cement’s total installed capacity across all its cement holdings to 11 million MTPA,” the BUA chairman said. He added then that this consolidation marked the culmination of the first phase of the BUA mid-term strategic plan for its cement businesses, which currently include four cement plants spread across Obu Cement Company and the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria.
“A new $450million Sokoto Kalambaina II Plant is scheduled to come on stream in the second half of 2020 alongside another 48MW power plant to complement the existing assets and take advantage of a growing cement market in Northern Nigeria and the West African region,” he said.
With a vision to be a world-class conglomerate, spreading across Africa and beyond, BUA’s mission is to keep providing high-quality products and services with a focus on total quality management. “We are committed to providing a wide range of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) as part of our contribution to the development of the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, our absolute fundamental aim is to ensure our customers are satisfied. Our measure of value lies in the quality of our products and the efficiency of our system,” states the management.
Abdulsamad loves the good life that wealth brings and he doesn’t shy from living la Vida loca. Apart from owning beautiful and expensive properties in  the popular Eaton Square, Gloucester Square, another house on Avenue Road,  known as Millionaires’ Row and also in Hyde Park all in London.  Yes, a penthouse at the prestigious and most expensive One and Only Hotel in Cape Town, a beautiful mansion in Johannesburg, South Africa and a Penthouse in Buckhead, Atlanta Georgia, in United States of America, he also owns a private jet, a Gulf Stream G 550.
But Samad is not your conventional billionaire. With a keen sense of adventure that has seen him navigate successfully the world of business, years ago, he thought of breaking through polar ice and the only way he reckoned he could do that was to buy a 25million Euros super luxury 45 metre Benetti yacht anchoring in South of France.
Sources say the Kano-born billionaire businessman always sails across the blue seas of Monaco with family, select friends and associates while savouring the finest hospitality befitting his status.

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