Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is a Nigerian politician and member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party. He is currently serving as the Governor of Kaduna State, having been elected in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai was born on the 16th of February, 1960 in Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State, Nigeria. He was raised by his father until his death when he was 8 years old. This led to him moving to Kaduna State to live with an uncle who sponsored all of his school education. As a result of this, El-Rufai now sites his state of origin as Kaduna State.
El-Rufai got his secondary school education at the prestigious Barewa College, where he graduated top of the class, winning the coveted “Barewa Old Boys’ Association Academic Achievement” Trophy in 1976. A notable attendee of Barewa College during the time he was there was the former late President of Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who was the House Captain of Mallam Smith House, Nasir’s dormitory as a junior.
He continued his education at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, earning a Bachelors degree with First Class Honors in Quantity Surveying. Since the completion of his undergraduate degree, El-Rufai has attended post-graduate programs at the famed Harvard Business School and Georgetown University.
He also added an LL.B degree with Second Class Honors, Upper Division, from the University of London, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Nasir established a Quantity Surveying and Project Management Consulting firm in 1982 with three other partners. The firm handled building and civil engineering projects in Nigeria. 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 former Vice-President.
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.
El-Rufai’s first stint with the government began under the transition government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, where he served as an adviser. Before that, he and three other partners established a Quantity Surveying and Project Management Consulting firm which made him a multi-millionaire even before his foray into government work.
Following the 1999 elections, he was appointed Director General of The Bureau of Public Enterprises, Nigeria’s head privatization agency, and also the Secretary of the National Council of Privatization.
Between 1999 and 2003, he spearheaded the successful privatization of many government-owned companies.
El-Rufai went on to serve as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja from July 2003 to May 2007. During his tenure, he was nicknamed Mr. Demolition for destroying illegal buildings in the capital city, one of which included the house of the Chairman of the ruling party in Nigeria at the time.
In 2007, the newly elected President of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’adua, appointed El Rufai to the National Energy Council that year, due to the belief that he could contribute positively to the under-achieving power sector of the country. He held the position until June 2008 when he resigned.
During his tenure, he chaired several high-profile cabinet committees that led to the establishment of a mortgage system, National ID card system, Electric Power Supply Improvement and the sale of Federal Government real estate in Abuja.
In 2015, he successfully campaigned for the Office of the Governor of Kaduna State and was elected in a landslide victory, beating incumbent governor and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero.
Governor of Kaduna
In 2014, El-Rufai won the gubernatorial primaries of the All Progressives Congress for Kaduna State and was declared the party’s candidate for the April 2015 governorship election. In the April 11 governorship election in Kaduna State, El-Rufai secured 1,117,635 million votes to defeat the incumbent governor and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero.
The election was upheld by the election petition tribunal in October 2015.
El-Rufai was sworn in as the 22nd governor of Kaduna State on 29 May 2015. In his inaugural address, he announced that he and his deputy were taking a pay cut and donating 50 percent of their salaries and allowances pending an improvement in the state’s fiscal situation.
On 6 August 2015, El-Rufai in one of his first acts as governor announced that Kaduna State will adopt the Treasury Single Account policy by 1 September of the same year. At the end of the exercise, 470 accounts belonging to different ministries, departments and agencies were closed and a sum of N24.7 billion was recovered and remitted to the Kaduna State Government TSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
El-Rufai also reformed the civil service in Kaduna State and reduced the number of ministries from 19 to 13 and the number of permanent secretaries from 35 to 18. In a bid to reduce the cost of governance, El-Rufai appointed only 13 commissioners, 10 special advisers and 12 special assistants as against the 24 commissioners, 41 special advisers and about 400 special assistants appointed by the previous administration.
By blocking leakages and cutting the cost of running government, it is estimated that the El-Rufai administration was able to save N1.2 billion in just two months.
In January 2016, El-Rufai’s administration launched the School Feeding Programme, aimed at providing one free meal per day to 1.5 million pupils in public primary schools within the state.
His administration also abolished the collection of fees and levies in public primary and junior secondary schools in Kaduna, thereby removing a financial burden of N3 billion from the parents.
On the March 9, 2019, Kaduna State Gubernatorial Elections, he was re-elected as the governor of Kaduna state having Polled 1,045,427 votes defeating his rival, PDP’s Isa Ashiru, who had 814,168 votes.
Nasir El-Rufai has three wives; Hadiza, Asia, and Ummi, as is permitted by his faith. Not much is known about them except Hadiza El-Rufai.
She is his first wife, who is an architect, writer, and novelist, and has been described by her husband as his best friend for over 30 years. She is currently serving as the First Lady of Kaduna State having served as the First Lady of FCT during his four-year tenure as Minister.
Nasir and Hadiza have a daughter named Yasmin who died in her London flat in 2011 while undergoing a law conversion course.
In her honor, her parents have set up the Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation which will focus on creative writing and women literacy programmes that will improve the literacy skills among women and children.