By Blessing Ehidiamen
What could be more fulfilling than knowing for the fact that you are not just a member of any club, but a member of the global billionaire’s club? One of Nigerian’s top business mogul, Abdulsamad Isyaku Rabiu, is the perfect answer. The tycoon whom Forbes had estimated his wealth at $1.2 billion in 2013 is the founder and chairman of one of Nigeria’s leading commodity trading company, BUA Group.
BUA group is a Nigerian based conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture with revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. BUA international limited was established in 1988 for the sole purpose of commodity trading. The company is into the importation of Rice, edible oil, flour and iron and steel.
Abdulsamad is not only a trademark in the business sector, but also has a stint with the financial world as he is the Chairman of Nigerian Bank of industry. Born on August 4, 1960 in Kano, Nigeria, to Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s, he attended the Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and returned to Nigeria at the age of 24 to oversee his family’s business.
At a time when his father was unavoidably absent, he mustered the craftsmanship and sheer spirit of an industrialist which he got from his father, Abdulsamad managed to turn around the situation, sustained the business and made better ends than his father would have made.
He was gifted with the ability to turn situations around. As a young executive director at his father’s company, Abdulsamad was proficient enough to steer the family’s business out of trouble created by the absence of their father. Prior to this, he was already one of the richest Nigerian of the 1970s and 1980s, sponsoring the National Party of Nigeria, the ruling political party at that time.
His ascension to high standard did not come on a platter of gold, and this much he said to Forbes Africa:
“It was very difficult. When we started, our dad was not there. There was this huge vacuum, because of his personality. He grew the business, he did everything, everybody reported to him, and then he wasn’t there anymore. So at a very tender age, I was saddled with so many things; I had to make a lot of important decisions, and don’t forget that this happened suddenly, at the time, there were three ships being discharged, rice and sugar ships. The government agencies tried to seize the goods; so we were discharging, they were taking, we were taking back. It was a big, big issue. Those kinds of things were really challenging“
It was following the resuscitation of his father’s dwindling company and the land he inherited from his father that he established BUA. BUA international limited got a boost in 1990, when it was contacted by the then government owned Delta Steel Company to supply it with its finished products.
His expertise in business led to his company, BUA, commissioning the second largest oil refinery in sub-Saharan Africa, breaking the all year long monopoly in the sugar refinery and distribution market, a feat that set him apart as an entrepreneur of distinction.
The quest to leave his comfort zone made him expand his cement production by signing a $600 million deal with Simona International Engineering, a Chinese cement equipment and engineering service provider, to construct a second production line at its flagship Obu Cement Plant, located in Edo State. His aim, which he graciously achieved, was to double the capacity and expand BUA’s then 10% market share in Nigerian cement. Abdulsamad became the chairman of Cement Company of Northern Nigeria PLC on February 2, 2010.
Abdulsamad worked his way to transforming his millions into billions through a series of one radical decision after another, thereby giving given rise to the empire that stood today as a colossus. According to him during one of his turbulent periods when there seems to be way to advance ahead:
“The biggest challenge was that there were restrictions on confirming letters of credit because of the coup. Then there was the issue of the planes; there were two private jets and we didn’t know what to do with them. We couldn’t fly them. They actually grounded the jets. We were able to get the big one out and we decided we didn’t need it. I just got rid of it. [My father] was in detention, so who was going to be flying a private jet at that time with the major-general Muhammadu Buhari around. They grounded the small plane for two years but it was released after [my father] was released from detention.”
Abdul Samad Rabiu understood the dictates of to whom much is given… as he uses BUA Foundation for his philanthropic activities. These include the construction of a 7,000 Square meter paediatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital as well as the construction of the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Bayero University Kano amongst several others.
Besides his assets in the BUA Group, Rabiu owns property in Britain worth $62 million and in South Africa, worth $19 million. Among his properties is a house in Gloucester Square in London worth nearly $16 million and a penthouse at The One & Only Hotel, in Cape Town, worth $12.6 million. Rabiu’s taste for good living is plain to see; he has bought homes from Eaton Square to Avenue Road, also known as Millionaires’ Row.
Rabiu jets around the world on an 8-seater Gulfstream G550 worth $44.9 million, powered by a Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engine, as well as an $18-million Legacy 600 aircraft.