Does Nasir El-Rufai have the moral rights to tell a government what to do?


Nasir El-Rufai’s wahalas have become too much of recent. It is time someone digs up on his past and show same to the world. The Nigerian government will be interested in this because I know they have been digging on this since 2007 to no avail. The content of this piece will help the Goodluck Jonathan administration in no small way.

Malam Nasir El-Rufai is a Nigerian phenomenon. He seems to attract attention with every move he makes. Right from his days as the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises to his tenure as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and member of the Economic team of President Olusegun Obasanjo and now the number one watch dog of the Nigerian government, El-Rufai always has been with us. Those who love him really do love him – cue Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who even had to express his admiration for El-Rufai in a widely-read piece on this site and those who don’t are also not afraid to show it. The most difficult of them to find is those who are indifferent about him. He gets a passionate response from people – even the government of his country – whether or not the passion is expressed as love, fear, respect or even sheer hatred is another issue entirely.

Like many others, the question that comes to my mind is, does this dude have the moral right to for instance tell the Goodluck Jonathan government to be prudent in spending the nation’s resources? Does he have the moral rights to question the contents of the budget? Moral right differs from conventional human rights. Every Nigerian has the right to question the way the government spends money or the content of the budget. Not every Nigerian has the moral right to do same. Would Governor James Ibori for instance have the moral right to tell a future Governor of Delta State how to spend the State’s funds?

If you had the opportunity to do something and you failed at doing it right, you lose the moral right to knock anyone who fails at it. Malam Elrufai was once the Chief Executive of a Nigerian territory, indeed the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The easiest way to question his moral right to write columns upon columns telling the Jonathan presidency the right way to do things is to place his own records on the table. We need not put it side by side with today’s government, all we need do is take a perspective look at it. To do that would be to put one party to more shame.

It would be easier to speak about his performance while in office but that would be a very easy ride for him because if a certain member of this same government writes and I quote “Malam El-rufai is very intelligent and capable. What he has achieved in public life is without match in Nigeria. He set the bar for public office in Nigeria” then it means even his worst critics agree he performed while in public service. I don’t want to write about what is obvious. We all know is about what is not obvious.

We are going to expose the budget of Nasir El-Rufai as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. We will in fact not just pick on his first budget, we will indeed compare same with the very budget he inherited while taking office as Abuja’s de facto Governor. This way, I will expose him to President Jonathan and they can do whatever they like with what they see here.


There is nothing more difficult to take in hand,More perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things – Niccolo Machiavelli
Between the 2003 budget of the FCT inherited by Nasir El-Rufai, and the 2004 budget he proposed, there are obvious differences that show the focus of each administration.
The telling observation from both budgets presented below show that the then new Minister of the Federal Capital Territory drastically cut allocations to his office by 48.9 per cent. This is obviously against the norm where new office holders immediately move to have more money allocated to their offices. Examples abound; the Senate, the House of Representatives, Ministers and even the Presidency have increasingly increased allocations to their various offices year on year. A careful look at the records of allocations to the National Assembly in the Obasanjo years compared to the Yar’Adua Jonathan years will show this. We need not talk about the increased number of aides and hangers-on that have to travel with President Jonathan wherever he goes – it does not matter where, even his toilet, as long as he is going with as many as three jets and travel remunerations are assured.

Recurrent Expenditure:

Another telling difference between the 2003 and 2004 FCT budgets is the allocation to both Recurrent Expenditures and Capital Expenditures. While the previous Minister allocated 74.7 per cent of his spending on Recurrent Expenditures as is the culture of the present day government, Nasir Elrufai was brave and reform minded enough to slash same to 32.92 per cent – a difference of 41.78 per cent. This simply meant that there was more fund allocated for real development. In comparison, the coordinating minister of Nigeria’s economy, the de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala promised major cuts in Nigeria’s Recurrent Expenditure. She promised a 1 per cent reduction every year from this year – her first budget. What did she do after that obviously-easy-to-achieve-limit? She increased recurrent expenditure by another whopping N92 billion.

Capital Projects:
While the 2003 budget had 25.13 per cent for Capital Expenditure, Nasir Elrufai’s 2004 budget shot it to 67.08 per cent. He increased Capital spending by 166.93 per cent! That is not only unprecedented in Nigeria, it is also a difficult thing to do for a new government (see Machiavelli above). Nigeria’s current Capital Projects’ allocation is roving at 27 per cent of total spending.

In conclusion:
I asked for the documents just to see whether this Malam that keeps talking like he knows it all actually has a practical example to show that he is not just about rhetoric. He is just doing everything to keep the government on its toes. He is in the courts every other month defending himself in several charges brought against him by the Nigerian government. They are still trying very hard at making a mess of his legacy in Abuja. It endures.

I hardly deal with people based on my heart or sentiments – save an intelligent-beautiful lady – it is based on what you know and what you can do and it’d be better if you have a record of what you have done. Most Nigerians believe everyone who is and was in government is a thief. That is intuitively impossible. One would wish that the government of Nigeria would spend as much energy prosecuting more past government officials like they are persecuting Nasir El-Rufai. They won’t need four years and more to get easy results. Dimeji Bankole and Nafada have been discharged and virtually cleared of corruption charges while an El-Rufai keeps spending precious time in court for cases lasting years. Cases without head nor tail.

A desperate disease requires a desperate remedy, Guy Fawkes said that and it applies to governance in Nigeria. We need men and women who will not be afraid to do the right things and indeed do them urgently!

Can someone help me with the budget of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan while at the Governor’s Office of Bayelsa State? When you find it, you will discover the secret to why Nigeria is spending N200 million to water gardens, why we have N5 million dedicated per day to the travels of the presidency and why we spend N3.1 billion every 24 hours on security and get insecurity as value for money. Don’t talk about the N20 billion his government gave the Obasanjo 3 term team because you will not find any document to prove it. His previous budgets will not be as difficult to find though.

If you need a template on how to get results as the leader of any government in Nigeria, get the El-Rufai template. Governor Babatunde Fashola admitted that much and Lagos trumps Nigeria in terms of how far both governments are performing. I am studying the template too. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Assassinations are extreme examples of what people will do to silence the voices of frustrating realities – Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky

May God protect every soul standing up for Nigeria and the people of Nigeria at these critical times.

I am Omojuwa (@omojuwa on twitter)



i) Statutory Revenue allocation 10,200,000,000.00 14,400,000,000.00
ii) VAT 1,600,000,000.00 1,600,000,000.00
iii) Excess crude/ Stabilization 2,000,000,000.00 –
iv) Internally Generated Revenue 1,200,000,000.00 4,000,000,000.00
v)Proceeds from sales of Govt. Houses – 5,000,000,000.00
Sub total 15,000,000,000.00 25,000,000,000.00

1) Personnel Cost

2003: 42.2%

2004 (El-Rufai’s): 23.37%

2003 (42.2 %) 2004 (EL-RUFAI’S) (23.37%) % VARIATION
i) MFCT (Ministry of FCT) 3,322,701,675.00 4,281,009,595.37
ii) (FCDA) Federal Capital Devt. Authority 1,316,502,800.00 1,521,740,390.96
iii) Other Agencies 1,702,589,200.00 1,197,250,013.67
2) Pension funds – 480,000,000.00
3) Student’s Feeding – 264,000,000.00
Sub Total 6,341,793,675.00 7,744,000,000.00 18.83%

2003: 32.67%
2004 (El-Rufai’s): 9.55%

OVERHEAD 2003 (32.67%) 2004 (El-Rufai’s) (9.55%) % Variation
i)Office of the Honourable Minister FCT 2,172,500,000.00 1,110,000,000.00 48.9% Slash
ii) Office of the Perm. Sec. – 279,000,000.00
ii) MFCT 23.94% 1,162,000,000.00 808,000,000.00
iii) FCDA 16.27% 800,000,000.00 600,000,000.00
iv) Other Agencies 15.60% 766,499,200.00 367,000,000.00
Sub-Total 4,900,999,200.00 3,164,000,000.00

2003: 25.13%
2004: 67.08%
MFCT 1,470,000,000.00 5,026,000,000.00
FCDA 801,315,018.00 12,473,500,000.00
Other Agencies 963,476,307.00 1,175,000,000.00
Special projects 527,409,800.00 2,560,000,000.00
Funds for new Parastals – 1,000,000,000.00
Sub-Total 3,762,201,125.00 22,234,500,000.00

El-Rufai’s numbers are highlighted, while the other numbers are the direct 2003 comparisons

About the author



Leave a Comment