Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is a Nigerian politician who is the incumbent Governor of Kaduna State and former Director General of The Bureau of Public Enterprises, the head privatization 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).
He was born on February 16, 1960 in Daudawa of Faskari Local Government Area in Katsina State. He lost his father when he was 8 years old and as a result was sponsored throughout his schooling days by an uncle in Kaduna. He attended secondary school at Barewa College where he won the Barewa Old Boys’ Association Academic Achievement Trophy in 1976. 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.
Nasir began his political career 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.
Nasir also 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.
He established a Quantity Surveying and Project Management Consulting firm in 1982 with three other partners. 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 privatization of many government owned companies alongside the controversial former Vice-President.
El-Rufai established the Abuja Geographic Information System within 12 months of being Minister of the FCT, Abuja making it the first municipality in Nigeria with a computerized land register and information system. Together 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.
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.
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 2015, he won the governorship election in Kaduna State defeating 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.
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 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. He 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
El-Rufai is married to writer and novelist Hadiza Isma El-Rufai. Together, they run the Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation (YELF), set up to honour their daughter who died in 2011. They have five children namely: Hamza El-Rufai, Late Yasmin El-Rufai, Bilkisu El-Rufai, Ahmed El-Rufai, Mustapha El-Rufai.