Rare gem…Why Bank of Industry will miss Abdulsamad Rabiu

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Rare gem…Why Bank of Industry will miss Abdulsamad Rabiu

Rare gem…Why Bank of Industry will miss Abdulsamad Rabiu
July 08
14:21 2016

• Former BOI boss inspire awe and sadness at his exit from development bank

Being successful in business is the most fascinating kind of art. It is what separates the men from the boys; the pretender from the seasoned entrepreneur. And you can see in Abdulsamad Rabiu’s dynamic enterprise both the lush and tensile strength of a business giant and leader of men. His matchless finesse, acumen and resolve as BUA Chairman landed him the privileged role of the Bank of Industry (BOI)’s substantive Chairman until his retirement, recently.

Until his retirement, Rabiu led the development bank with incomparable brilliance, fortitude and tact. At the end of his tenure, he left the BO! richer and stronger than he met it thus making him the best thing to happen to the bank in recent years.

Born in Nigeria’s northwest state of Kano, Rabiu, is the son of well known businessman IsyakuRabiu, who made a fortune in trade and industry in the decades after Nigeria’s independence from the UK in 1960. By the 1970s, Isyaku emerged as a key sponsor of the National Party of Nigeria, which became the ruling political party after the country returned to civilian rule following the elections of 1979. A military coup in 1983 toppled the government and led to the arrest of then-President ShehuShagari and many of his close associates, including Isyaku. Around this time, the younger Rabiu earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.He returned home to find his father’s business in a precarious state following his incarceration. Barely 24 years old, with little business experience, Rabiu had to lead his father’s business empire during dark days.

Ever since, he hasn’t faltered in his long, purposeful strides to entrepreneurial excellence. According to a Forbes’ report, his commodities and cement empire, plus his real estate holdings in South Africa and London, are worth $1.2 billion, up from $670 million sometime back. He ranks 23rd on Forbes 2013 list of Africa’s 50 Richest.

His journey to entrepreneurial acclaim started in 1988, when he set up his own business, BUA International, with the blessing of his father. Rabiu imported rice, sugar and edible oils, as well as iron and steel rods. His big break however, came in 1990 when a friend informed him of an opportunity with a government-owned steel company. Production at the Delta Steel Company had been beggared by the Nigerian government’s decision to reduce grants. The company was considering approaching private business to finance the procurement of raw materials and Rabiu saw the promise. The deal needed approval from the government.

After approaching the minister of steel, who hailed from Rabiu’s home state, he was asked to finance the project. He was able to get the business, which was worth almost $20 million at the time. By 1992, a regime change came with the substantial profits he had made from the steel venture, and Rabiu invested in Tropic Commercial Bank, which operated in Nigeria. He became the chairman of the bank after buying a majority shareholding. In 1995, BUA acquired Nigeria Oil Mills, a peanut processing company in Kano, for more than $20 million.
Two years later, BUA Flour Mills’ first factory was established in Lagos. The Kano flour factory was launched in 1998. Thereafter, BUA set up its sugar refinery in Lagos. The 2,000 million tons per day capacity plant is the second largest sugar refinery in West Africa, after the Dangote Sugar refinery, which produces an estimated 2,400 MT per day. It is as much as a result of his adventurous spirit that he perpetually seeks to initiate new socio-economic trends in the country. For instance, Rabiu believes that African manufacturing industries will soon be in a position to compete with major global suppliers to the sport.

Indeed, Rabiu epitomizes youth that constitutes the rarity of Nigerian society — a young man who excelled and became a respected tycoon. But, unlike many of his generation, he advocates hope knowing that things could change in a society which culture of fear has permeated for decades.

Over the past few years, Rabiu began working outside the box to make his peers understand that only their unstoppable people’s power could effect real change. He projects a manic self-confidence in public. He still has his edge: prosperity hasn’t robbed him of his disrespect for conventional wisdom, his spooky ability to see around corners, and his feral determination to make perfect products at all costs. All in all, success becomes him.

Rabiu is fundamentally a rebel, a nonconformist who is never contented with the status quo. In Nigeria, such remarkable men abound. And they seem to have discovered that while it is unarguably resourceful and sexy to make all the money they can, it’s even more applaudable and humane to deploy their fortunes to the development of their immediate society. Rabiu fits the bill. The story of his life is the stuff gallant dreams are made of. In utter deference to his extraordinariness as a businessman and philanthropist free verses, couplets and the most ornamental rhymes would simply not do to eulogize the personage of this top businessman.

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