With a calm and soft-spoken demeanour, this unconventional trait betrays the personality of billionaire tycoon Abdulsamad Rabiu who obviously has fought his way through the muddy water of Nigerian business. With foothold in port management, cement manufacturing, flour and oil milling, oil and gas, shipping and real estate businesses in Nigeria, the BUA Group founder has had to face fierce competition from either rivals or regulators. As he dusts some, yet others keep popping up. However, quiet but very stubborn Rabiu is said to be determined this time around to face any challenge so as to establish his brand within the country and even beyond. Last week, an ongoing silent battle between Rabiu, through BUA Ports & Terminals, one of his subsidiaries, and Hadiza Bala Usman, the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority, became a subject of public attention. Hadiza-led management of the NPA had decommissioned the whole concession arrangement which BUA Group got in 2006, claiming that the unsafe operational environment of the jetty —Terminal B which is BUA concession area—needed urgent repairs and reconstruction. The contract dispute, which has gone through a handful of courts, appears will really deal a huge blow on the multi-billion naira investment of Rabiu within the Ports Complex. His BUA Group has accomplished a multi-billion naira 720,000mtpa sugar refinery, the largest pasta plant and flour mills in Nigeria and a 24MW power plant all billed for commissioning this October and already over 1,000 employed with expectation of minimum monthly revenue of $500,000. However, the plan is on the verge of being scuttled by what the BUA Group termed Hadiza’s arbitrariness and high-handedness. Sources said the feud between the two Northern influential figures, which is disrupting the peace of the industry, is a matter of ego and unexplained personal vendetta. And as the battle shapes up between them, the Kano-born Forbes rated billionaire is said to have resolved to see that he laughs last and have his efforts to crash prices of major food items like sugar, flour, pastas and many others via his soon-to-be-commissioned foods manufacturing complex in Port Harcourt become a reality.
Rabiu cemented his return to Forbes’ African Billionaires List this year since dropping off it in 2015. His return to the billionaire boys’ club is due to five years of strategic expansion and a much more stable Nigerian economy. As a firm believer in strategy, Rabiu boosted his fortunes by a whopping $650 million early this year when he merged Kalambaina Cement, a subsidiary of his BUA Cement, with the publicly traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN), where he was a controlling shareholder. That calculated move made him the third richest man in Nigeria with a staggering net worth of $1.6 billion, according to the Forbes African Billionaires List.