Executive Chairman/Founder of BUA Group, AbdulSamad Rabiu

By Bello Bala Shagari

In the league of Nigerian billionaires, Abdulsamad Rabi’u, the BUA boss has proven to be a distinguished nerve in the business community. His businesses have continued to expand and grow drastically within the lengths and breaths of the African continent and beyond. His name and that of his company has become a household name in Nigeria. The BUA businesses are thriving and the effects are far reaching.

In 2019, Forbes ranked Abdulsamad Rabiu as the 16th richest man in Africa. However, within the span of two years, he rose drastically above 10 more African billionaires to become the 5th wealthiest man in Africa with an estimated net worth of over $7bn. The phase at which BUA is growing is worthy of the highest administration, and one would not doubt that he is on his way to top the list of African billionaires pretty soon

Since Abdulsamad didn’t appear out of the blue, some people may give much of the credit of his successes to his late father of blessed memory, Sheikh Isyaka Rabiu, who is was a well known wealthy and influential Islamic scholar, and indeed a successful Kano businessman. Those who will make that assumption may not be completely right or wrong, but there is a probability that they would easily misplace what is right or wrong about what he might have gotten from his late father. Before his emergence, his siblings Nafi’u Isyaku Rabiu, who was famous in the 80’s and was in charge of their family business and Rabi’u Isyaku Rabi’u, the well known Chairman of IRS Airlines were running the show and they did quite well. Today however, Abdulsamad is the show!

People tend to give little credit to successful people born with a silver spoon, but somewhere I read “Do not envy a worthless heir” explaining further that “Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it”.

Being born into a well-to-do family doesn’t guarantee success, in fact, most times, people born with a silver spoon become too comfortable with what their parents have acquired that they don’t make the necessary effort to either maintain or improve the wealth of investments they inherited.

It takes a lot of training and discipline to maintain generational wealth, and sometimes it even takes luck or rather a divine intervention. At the epicenter of conundrums of every successful man faces is nurturing a worthy successor. Surprisingly enough, Abdulsamad did not inherit any riches from his wealthy father when he became a billionaire. In fact, his father was very much alive and privileged to see his son break into the league of billionaires. However, the most important question here is, what are the secrets behind the successes of the Leo born Abdulsamad “Isyaku” Rabiu?

Once upon a time, the Isyaka Rabiu family house was named the Quran house. A place where the teachings of the Quran is the order of the day. The family are devout Tijjaniya adherents of the highest respect, where charity is part of the culture. Almost every member of the family memorised the Quran competely. Therefore, they carry with them the kind of values which every Muslim believes would keep buoyant the status and the wealth of those who keep it; and that is “the art of giving”.

Abdulsamad has mastered the art of giving! And to my understanding, it has been his best investment and he knows it too. In one of his interviews when he was described as being among the top givers, he expressed his dissatisfaction saying that “I don’t think we are doing enough in terms of giving back”. This comment may perplex anyone who knows Abdulsamad’s track record of generosity, you seldom hear anyone say that. It is difficult to come by someone who is that altruistic yet still yearning to provide more. He further continued that he would rather be the top giver than be the top billionaire. Right there; That is the secret! Because the truth is, most people in his league think completely in the opposite of that philosophy. Yes they grow too, but not as drastic and steadily.

It doesn’t matter what you believe, whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian or even an atheist, you will be able to relate with “the art of giving”, it is a universal language. Even the atheists who do not believe in God, will tell you that they believe karma, which means that whatever you do comes back to you. In Christianity, the Bible says in Deuteronomy 15:10 , “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.” We often simply put it as “givers never lack”.

For the Muslims, In Quran 2:261 Suratul Baqarah, it says “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” So what more do you expect from a billionaire raised in the Quran house? Giving is definitely part of the business! Indeed, it is something he inherited as it is principally part of the family culture.

Despite giving so much, you’ll hardly find anyone more humble and friendlier than Abdulsamad. But to be to fair to the rest of his siblings, they are all pretty much as humble. You won’t see them carrying their heads high above others, and nor will you see them looking down on anyone. The humility of Abdulsamad particularly has often given me a high self esteem whenever I get the chance to relate with him. He treats people with such regard that makes him easily relatable. The combination of wealth, generosity, and humility hardly come together for one person, but here they are for Abdulsamad.

He may not have inherited the riches of his father, but he has indeed inherited his wealth of virtues. Not only that, but he is also nurturing young members of his family to continue with the legacy that has been built upon. He has changed the lives of many and has continued to effortlessly reach out to ordinary people with unrivaled generosity. One cannot begin to list Abdulsamad’s philanthropic activities, privately and corporately under the BUA foundation, because of how enormous they are. It will require an entire book dedicated to that story. But worthy of mention is the Abdul Samad Rabiu (ASR) Initiative among others, which expends a whooping $100 million dollars in health, education and social development across the African continent.

Today, I just want celebrate a humble business mogul and a top giver at 62.

*Bello Bala Shagari writes from Abuja

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