August 4, 2021, ushered in another birthday for Nigerian industrialist and philanthropist, Abdul Samad Rabiu. The chairman/CEO of BUA Group who is easily one of the richest in the continent has in the last one year carved a niche for himself with his lifestyle of giving.
Hate him or like him, you cannot deny the fact that he played a major role in ensuring that many states were able to contain the onslaught of coronavirus in 2020 and his post-2020 activities have helped in reinforcing the position that the rich can be humane. Curiously, it was the same year of the pandemic that he clocked 60; therefore decided to open a new vista in his style of giving.
If there was one thing that shook the country’s health and indeed social fibre especially early in 2020, it was the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
Nigerians can at least heave a sigh of relief that the disease’s first and second waves were contained, thanks to the various measures adopted by the state governments as well as the federal government’s Presidential Task Force.
In a lot of ways, Nigerians, especially health workers and other organisations directly involved in monitoring and containing the spread of the disease, also worked round the clock to ensure that the prediction by America that Africa would be filled with corpses arising from COVID-19 deaths did not materialise.
If anything, the statement by Bill Gates’ wife, Melinda, pushed Africans, especially Nigerians, to look inwards. Many rose to the occasion and happily the events and figures today have shown that, pushed to the wall, Nigerians can rise up to avert crisis of huge dimensions.
While many corporate organisations made pledges and were willing and able to stand out and be counted, Abdul Samad Rabiu’s BUA Group stood head and shoulders above many others in its response to the spread of the disease in Nigeria. The BUA Group reached out to many states by providing the needed financial and material support so that the level of readiness to combat the scourge would be raised. More than 10 states benefited from this largesse. This is apart from the billions that the organisation donated through the organised private sector initiative which also reached out as palliatives to all the states of the federation.
Abdul Samad Rabiu didn’t stop there. His face and voice was always on CNN and other media telling Nigerians that they could pull it off and successfully fight the pandemic. It was indeed a voice of wisdom and encouragement at a time when there was so much despair and it helped.
As the pandemic receded, he again came up with the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative for Africa which promised to help in developing Africa by funding projects like education, health and social services sector.
In his speech at the launch, the CEO of BUA Group stated that, “I announce the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative with an Africa Fund endowment of USD100 million every year starting from this year, 2021; USD$50 million to Nigeria and another USD$50 million to the rest of our beloved continent.”
With seven months of the year gone, ASR has touched Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, universities of Maiduguri, Benin, Ibadan, Ilorin with each of the universities given N1 billion. Some states are also beneficiaries of his largesse. For instance, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, FCT have had grants running into billions of naira while another four states are expected to benefit.
Outside Nigeria, Ghana was recently given $3 million towards improving education, a gift that the West African nation received with open arms.
The BUA Group boss has set himself a daunting task of spending $100 million annually for the development of the continent. The ASR, his vehicle for pursuing this gargantuan dream, has been working every week to show that this is achievable. Posterity would always remember men and women who saw challenges to mankind and took steps to turn around those challenges.
As the BUA chairman marks his 61st birthday, we wish him well and urge him not to relent. Africa has only a few leaders like him who give out at the level in which he is giving. Most leaders take away from the society and leave the people poorer. And for this he will always be remembered
Ogundana writes from Abuja