- 6 Nigerian varsities get N6b for starters
Africa's quest for sustainable growth and development has received a big boost with the setting up of a USD100 million fund by billionaire businessman, Abdul Samad Rabiu.
To be known as the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative, the programme will focus yearly on four key areas critical to human development index (HDI) - Education, Health and Social Development sectors. The investment will be in infrastructure and capacity development.
In a statement, Rabiu, who turned 60 last year, said the annual grant will be split in two halves with his native Nigeria benefitting $50m and the rest of Africa sharing $50million.
For starters, six Nigerian universities will each receive N1billion in the first phase. The institutions, drawn from the nation's six geopolitical zones, include Ahmadu Bello University, University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria, University of Benin, University of Ilorin, and University of Ibadan.
In the release personally signed by him, a somewhat emotional Rabiu said: "It is with the blessings of the Almighty, my family, colleagues, the support of my community and the backing of my conscience, that I announce the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative, with an Africa Fund endowment of USD 100 million every year starting from this year, 2021; USD $50 million to Nigeria and USD $50 million to the rest of our beloved continent.
"Over the years as a corporate, and through the BUA Foundation, we have been actively involved in corporate philanthropy in various sectors – from health, education, community development, water and sanitation, sports, and even more recently, our work on COVID-19.
"However, with the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative and its annual USD$100million Africa Fund for Social Development, we are specifically extending this work to the Education, Health and Social Development sectors, starting with infrastructure and capacity development in these areas and supporting the efforts of various governments in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Our broad focus is equipping facilities, our researchers, healthcare practitioners and community-level service providers, with the aim of providing sustainable solutions for generations to come.
"They say life begins at 50; what they never tell you is that a pandemic can change your life at 60.
"In that year 2020, when I turned 60, at least two million others turned into memories, taken by this deadly virus. I watched millions become numbers in a global death toll and ancestors in the world beyond. The same pandemic that forced us humans to slow down, now forces our humaneness to square up. The plans I once took time to construct, now take up all my time.
"The challenges are manifold in various areas of our lives, from education, on to healthcare, and throughout social development.
"Therefore, based on the results of extensive deliberation over the course of a year, our first cohort for Nigeria will be NGN1billion each in grants to 6 universities in the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria, towards the initiation and upgrading of infrastructure, where applicable. The universities in the first phase include Ahmadu Bello University, University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria, University of Benin, University of Ilorin, and University of Ibadan. These grants will be directed towards projects that will be delivered by the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative for the project duration.
"For accountability, we will present annual reports, with all activities overseen by a sterling board of trustees. More importantly, I am counting on you as beneficiaries, end-users and therefore custodians of these projects to hold the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative to account; contact, commend, recommend or complain to us on asrafrica.org.
"Over the course of the year, I expect to also announce funding opportunities of USD $50 million for the rest of Africa – we are currently in talks with our stakeholders and other partners and announcements will be duly made.
"As the world tries to claw its way back to business as usual, the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative's Africa Fund for Social Development and Renewal aims to be a modest reminder to us all that until our health, education and other development issues are fixed, business as usual in these times, means business as brutal. We pledge to continue to do what we can to support ongoing efforts by various governments to bridge the development divide across Africa."
"This is my promise. This is the goal of ASR AFRICA."
* Johnson, a freelance journalist, sent this from Lagos.