Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (September 2008)|
|Nasir Ahmad EL-Rufai|
|Minister of Abuja Federal Capital Territory|
17 July 2003 – 27 July 2007
|Preceded by||Mohammed Abba Gana|
|Succeeded by||Aliyu Modibbo Umar|
|Born||16 February 1960
Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area, Katsina State
Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (Born on 16 February 1960) was a former Director General of The Bureau of Public Enterprises, the head privatisation agency in Nigeria and also the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja from 16 July 2003 to 29 May 2007. He is a member of All Progressives Congress (APC). His spell with the government began under the transition government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, where he served as an adviser in the Transition government. He was reportedly in self-exile during the tenure of President Umaru Yar'Adua. In November 2009, Nasir EL-Rufai stated plans to come back home to Nigeria despite the high level of risk he will be under.
EL-Rufai was born in Daudawa of Faskari Local Government Area in Katsina State. Despite his northern upbringing, Nasir El-Rufai has always said he is "Nigerian" first before being "Hausa". His father who lived on a pension of three pounds a month died while the young Nasir was 8. He was sponsored throughout his schooling days by an uncle in Kaduna, and as a result grew up in the influential Northern state. He went to secondary school in the prestigious Barewa College, where he graduated at the top of the class, winning the coveted "Barewa Old Boys' Association Academic Achievement" Trophy in 1976. Incidentally, in Barewa College, the former President Umaru Yar'Adua was the House Captain of Mallam Smith House which was Nasir's dormitory as a junior. He went off to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, earning a Bachelor in Quantity Surveying degree with First Class Honors. He also attended post-graduate programs at Harvard Business School and Georgetown University. Since leaving public service, Nasir has completed an LL.B degree from the University of London, graduating in August 2008 with Second Class Honors, Upper Division, and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in June 2009. He also received the Kennedy School Certificate in Public Policy and Management having spent 11 months as an Edward A. Mason Fellow in Public Policy and Management from July 2008 to June 2009.
Nasir established a Quantity Surveying and Project Management Consulting firm in 1982 with three other partners. The firm was quite successful, handling mainly building and civil engineering projects in Nigeria, and made the partners wealthy millionaires while still in their twenties. From November 1999 to July 2003, he was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Secretary of the National Council of Privatization where he spearheaded the privatisation of many government owned companies alongside the controversial former Vice-President. El-Rufai is a known crusader against corruption, having previously successfully exposed two senators that demanded bribes from him to ease his ministerial confirmation. He presided over a real estate boom backed by the radical transformation of infrastructure and land use practices of the federal capital earlier riddled with corruption and vast deviation from the original masterplan. With the establishment of the Abuja Geographic Information System within 12 months of being Minister of the FCT, Abuja became the first municipality in Nigeria with a computerised land register and information system. Along with the President and members of the Economic Management Team, he led the reform of the Nigerian public service which had become dysfunctional during years of military dictatorship. At various times during his tenure as Minister, he oversaw the Federal Ministries of Commerce (twice) and Interior. He also chaired several high-profile cabinet committees that led to the establishment of a mortgage system in Nigeria, National ID card system for Nigeria, Electric Power Supply Improvement and the sale of Federal Government real estate in Abuja.
During the last days of the Obasanjo administration, the former EFCC Chairman described El-Rufai as the "de facto No. 2 official", tagging him with the role of a Vice-President, especially after the fall-out between the former President and his Vice-President. It is believed that Obasanjo's trust and confidence in El-Rufai angered a vast number of the political elite within the country. Indeed, it was widely believed that the former President was considering blessing EL-Rufai as his successor. However, it was believed the vast political powers against him were too much, probably as a result of the fear of what may happen to them once he was in power.
Many view El-Rufai as an incorruptible public servant who can get difficult jobs done, especially after he ordered the demolition of the house of the Chairman of the ruling party in Nigeria. However, since the end of the Obasanjo administration, El-Rufai has kept a very low profile, but still remains an Obasanjo loyalist having frequently defended the former President's policies.The administration of the President, Umaru Yar'adua appointed El-Rufai to the National Energy Council in September 2007, due to the belief that he could contribute positively to the under-achieving power sector of the country. Nasir resigned the appointment in June 2008, and on 30 April and 7 May 2008, El-Rufai appeared before the Nigerian's Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory to explain some exposed and corrupt actions of his administration. He attempted to justify his actions and stoutly rejected cynics views on the allegation that he allocated plots of land to his friends, brother and cronies, and it was clear that many of the Senators had lost properties during the restoration of Abuja by El-Rufai and were therefore just out to get their pound of flesh. To a vast amount of Nigerians, El-Rufai is simply being witched-hunted for stepping on the toes of the corrupt political elite within the country. This is largely because, unlike a number of aides to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nasir El-Rufai has still not been accused of money laundering or any bribery scandal. The Yar'Adua Administration continued to investigate El-Rufai, and his compatriot Nuhu Ribadu, in order to smear them and satisfy the political elite braying for their blood. Due to President Yaradua's chronic ill health coupled with his absence from Nigeria for many weeks without Nigerians hearing a word from him or knowing what is really wrong with him speculations are that a power struggle has begun in Nigeria with President Obasanjo and his loyalists pushing for Yaradua to step down and hand over power to his Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan. President Yaradua's loyalists resisted this suggestion vehemently and it was reported that part of their response to this challenge was to implement yet another strategy to try to silence and intimidate President Obasanjo and his key loyalists like Nasir El-Rufai (former Minister of FCT), Femi Fani-Kayode(former Minister of Aviation), Nuhu Ribadu(former Chairman of the EFCC), Lawal Batagarawa(former Minister of Defence), Nenadi Usman(former Minister of Finance) and Andy Uba(former Special Assistant to President Obasanjo) by roping them into and implicating them in a phantom coup plot and with a view to eventually charging them and trying them for treason and encouraging military insurrection. This was the same method that was adopted by General Sani Abacha who had jailed Obasanjo on similar trumped up charges when he was in power. Obasanjo was released and pardoned a number of years later after Abacha died and after General Abdulsalami Abubakar took power.
According to Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EL-Rufai is wanted in order to account for almost $250 million during his tenure as minister. He has repeatedly refused to appear before the EFCC to answer the charges due to the fear of being frustrated and witch-hunted. Nevertheless, he has asked the Commission to ask his lawyers about any question they have. A number of Nigerian agree to this view considering the fact that the EFCC is viewed as incompetent and used as a tool to attack Nigeria's young bright minds. An example of this is the way the former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode was arrested. On 20 February 2009 an investigation by online journalist chidiopara.blogspot.com revealed that the indictment of El Rufai by the Nigerian Senate based on allegations that allocations of land in Abuja finalised by EL-Rufai between the 17 and 29 May 2007,were illegal, as, the Federal Executive Council,of which he was then a Minister, had been dissolved on 16 May 2007, were entirely false. Several authorities record that the Executive Council Meeting of the 16 February 2007 never discussed dissolution and in fact a subsequent FEC meeting on 23 May 2007 had resolved that all Ministers should stay on till the 29 May 2007.
Recently, Nasir published a widely circulating essay on Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua titled "Umaru Yar'Adua – Great Expectations, Disappointing Outcomes" which for the first time revealed aspects of the president's life history, habits and statecraft, as well as the performance (or lack of it) of the administration. The essay has become a reference point for evaluating the Yar'Adua Administration. The essay has been serialised in several Nigerian newspapers and available on various new sites and blogs. Nasir EL-Rufa is a Muslim and has two wives, Hadiza and Asia. Hadiza El-Rufai, an architect and El-Rufai's best friend for over 30 years, served as the First Lady of the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) during EL-Rufai's four-year tenure as Minister.
EL-Rufai has had various nicknames throughout his period in politics and even before that, he's knowns as Giant by those close to him, a reference to his small size. He is also known as the Privatization Czar, and more recently as Mr. Demolition. On the 27th of January 2014, the State Security Service quizzed him over a statement credited to him in which he said there would be violence in the 2015 elections. He was later released after 15 hours in detention.
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