Obasanjo letters Rufai
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)

El-Rufai Addresses Senate

September 8, 2004

"You will recall that on Friday 3rd of September, the National Chairman of our party, Chief Audu Ogbeh (OFR), addressed a press conference which gave me an opportunity for the first time to say something on this matter of disrespect to this August house (Senate).

"On that occasion, Mr. President (of the Senate), I indicated that I will oblige if given an opportunity to apologise to the Senate in person. I am indeed grateful that this Distinguish Senate graciously granted my request which is why I am standing before you, your excellency.

"I make this statement with all sense of responsibility as a citizen of this great country and as a Minister of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the able leadership of our President Olusegun Obasanjo. I have due respect for democracy, Mr. Senate President, Distinguished Senators, institution without which our democracy cannot grow. Therefore all Nigerians have a duty to protect and nurture our young democracy.

"In addition, Mr. Senate President, as someone who has spent better part of my adult life under military rule, I am quite conscious of the values that democracy offers us all.

“One of the pillars of our system of democracy is the National Assembly made up of this distinguished Senate and the House of Representatives. You not only make laws for the good governance and well-being of this country, but you're indispensable in the advancing of doctrine of checks and balances within our constitutional framework. We members of the executive branch and indeed all Nigerians have a duty to work and cooperate with the National Assembly in the greater interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore it is never my intention to make any comment or take actions that will bring disrepute to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its distinguished members.

"Distinguished senators, I did not mean what I have said and I don’t refer to this Senate.

“But even if I mean it to refer to any person, it was an inappropriate statement. I made a mistake and I am sorry. I feel particularly pained that the President of this country had to intervene on my behalf and apologise to you.

"The president of this country has already expressed my deep regret to any discomfort or embarrassment I have caused to all the members of the National Assembly and indeed all Nigerians that felt disappointed by my conduct. I would like to say that I apologise again and that I will endeavour to be more patient.

“Distinguished senators, Mr Senate President, I am very sorry."

El-Rufai Writes to Senate President Adolphus Wabara

September 7, 2004


"I wish to request for the kind indulgence of your Excellency, to appear before the distinguished Senate to explain and apologise  for my recent reported inappropriate comments.

“The Senate President may wish to recall that when the news broke out, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, had after obtaining my explanation on what actually happened, sent a  letter of apology.

“Furthermore, on Friday, 3rd September, the National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, OFR, in a press conference  which I attended, tendered an apology on behalf of the party to the Senate. I also used that opportunity provided by our party,  the PDP, to tender my unreserved apology and to request for an opportunity to appear before the Senate, to explain and  apologise to the distinguished Senators directly.

Your Excellency, while awaiting your favourable response to my plea, please accept the assurances of my highest regards.

Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai, OFR Minister of the Federal Capital Territory

Second Letter from President Obasanjo on FCT Minister El-Rufai

Addressed to the President of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara

Dated September 2, 2004, reads:



"I write to  acknowledge receipt of your letter NASS/S/1017/VOL.X/83 of August 31, 2004 entitled: Complaint Against the Minister of  the Federal Capital Territory –– Mallam Nasir El-Rufai –– and to thank you for your letter.

"In considering your letter, I note two aspects – the constitutional function of the Senate through its committee on Public Accounts, and the unsavoury and unwarranted language of the said minister against the senators.

"The report of the committee on Public Accounts has got to my hand and I want to assure the Senate that appropriate corrective actions will be taken.

"In my capacity as the President of Nigeria, I have the responsibility, among others, to protect the integrity of the Senate, the National Assembly and all democratic institutions to nurture and strengthen our fledging democracy.

"In this regard, I take serious view of the language of the said minister as I earlier reflected in my letter of August 31, 2004.

"May I also hereby request you and the distinguished Senate for greater understanding, patience and time for me to consider all the implications of this issue to enable me take appropriate action on your resolution.

“Please accept, Mr. Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”


First Letter from President Obasanjo on FCT Minister El-Rufai:

Addressed to the President of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara

Dated August 31, 2004, reads,

"On noticing the alleged wrong deployment of language of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory on a member or members of the Senate of the Federal Republic, I asked the Honourable Minister to give me an explanation in writing.

"I note with some concern the Minister's explanation which seemed to touch on action and reaction between a Distinguished Senator and the Honourable Minister.

"But be that as it may, I have cautioned the Minister on the use of language in public about any member of the Federal Legislature no matter how seemingly provoked.

"Everything should be done to maintain the very cordial and amicable relationship now existing between the Executive and the Legislature. Therefore, if any offence has been caused, I apologise on behalf of the Minister and I hope that words amounting to alleged threat or blackmail will cease to emanate from Distinguished and Honourable members of the National Assembly."




Genesis of the Problem - Immediate


El-Rufai Dismisses Senate Report

Victoria Ojeme

They can't intimidate me, he says

FEDERAL Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, responding, yesterday, to his indictment, Wednesday, by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, dismissed it as a witch-hunt.

But he vowed that he would refuse to be intimidated by the Senate, declaring: "In the next few weeks you will understand many things that have been happening."

The Senate committee had indicted the minister for alleged irregularities in the management of finances during his tenure as the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) and even his current duty post. Cited as his offence was his employment of two special assistants said to have been irregularly employed and paid.

According to the report, the two special assistants who graduated in the 90s were paid at least N9 million each last December. It recommended that the money be recovered.

But speaking yesterday in Abuja on his second clash with the Senate since his nomination as minister, Mallam el-Rufai said he had always expected the Senate to attack him since his allegation that the Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, and Senator Jonathan Zwingina demanded bribe from him to be confirmed.

He said: "I will not be accountable to any one but the president and I will keep on doing my job. Since my first engagement with the Senate, I know that for the next few years they will be trying to find something wrong with me. It's ok for them to try and write their English but nobody can intimidate Nasir el-Rufai. We will continue to do our work and in the next few weeks you will understand many things that have been happenning."

He said he had not read the full text of the Senate indictment but said that in any case he remained unmoved. He also said President Obasanjo had approved the Convention on Business Integrity to fight corruption in the country, saying: "Within 12 months of assigning this convention, every company that does business with us above N50 million must sign on to this convention.

"They must also agree that they must not offer bribe in the pursuit of contract and this is what is important about this, but anybody that wants to do business with FCT above a certain minimum must show that he is a member of this club which means he has undertaking that he will not offer bribe or any other form of inducement to any official whether public or private in connection with his business and should not permit any one to do so his behalf.

"It is an anti-bribery convention, but it is a bit more than that. It also requires you within your organisation to have transparent procedure for every thing to pick the best people to work with."

Senate Report Indicts El-Rufai On BPE Funds

Emmanuel Aziken

Money paid irregularly to 2 assistants to be recovered

THE Senate adopted, yesterday, the report of its Committee on Public Accounts, indicting the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, of irregularity in the management of finances during his tenure as Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), and his current post.

The report which covers activities of the committee in the last one year also recommended direct allocation of funds to Police commands across the country as a way of eliminating constraints in the channelling of funds to Police formations. The committee's report presented to the Senate by its chairman, Mr Mamman Ali, similarly indicted some government agencies and government contractors, some of whom were told to refund various sums to government.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the session, Senator Ali poured encomiums on President Olusegun Obasanjo, under whose name several government officials including el-Rufai, he said, had hidden to perpetuate finanABUJA --THE Senate adopted, yesterday, the report of its Committee on Public Accounts, indicting the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, of irregularity in the management of finances during his tenure as Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), and his current post.

The report which covers activities of the committee in the last one year also recommended direct allocation of funds to Police commands across the country as a way of eliminating constraints in the channelling of funds to Police formations. The committee's report presented to the Senate by its chairman, Mr Mamman Ali, similarly indicted some government agencies and government contractors, some of whom were told to refund various sums to government.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the session, Senator Ali poured encomiums on President Olusegun Obasanjo, under whose name several government officials including el-Rufai, he said, had hidden to perpetuate financial malfeasances. The indictment of Mallam el-Rufai for his activities in the FCT was in respect of the employment of two special assistants who the committee observed were irregularly employed and paid.

According to the report, the two assistants who graduated in the nineties were paid at least N9 million each in the month of December 2003. The committee's recommendation directing the "Accounting Officer of the MFCT to recover all money irregularly paid to the two special assistants of the minister and submit treasury receipts to that effect to the AGF within four weeks," was unanimously accepted by the Senate.

The committee's report which alleged fraud in the BPE accounts also found the minister culpable of concealing information concerning the accounts of the BPE where he worked before his ministerial appointment through his alleged refusal to sign the 2002 accounts of the government agency.

"Since the former DG during whose tenure the accounts were audited and reported has refused to take responsibility by endorsing the report, by law, neither the AGF nor the PAC can act on it. This attitude can be interpreted as an attempt to conceal their activities from the board and committee scrutiny," the committee said.

Alluding to mal-practices in the management of the BPE accounts during el-Rufai's tenure, the report continued: "In the process of reviewing the report, certain observations of the external auditors indicated improper financial dealings by management. The committee gave the external auditors the opportunity to review the report and amend or modify it according to their professional judgment. They opted to stand by their assertions/comments."

The committee's findings on the Police financial system read: "One discovery was the issue of under-funding as well as negative effect of over-centralised disbursement system. We noted that there should be more decentralisation to enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency."

Following this finding, the Senate recommended to the executive arm to ensure that all Police commands receive their funds directly from the Federal Government. Briefing newsmen at the end of the session, Senator Ali commended President Obasanjo for his transparency and particularly for not influencing the committee's scrutiny of government accounts. He said several government officials had dropped the name of the president to perpetuate illegality, but which in all cases subsequently turned out to be false.

Genesis of the Problem - Remote


Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK


Nigerian minister tells of bribe

A Nigerian minister has told a corruption investigation that two senators asked him to pay $414,000 for them to confirm his appointment.

Nasir el-Rufai says that when he said he did not have the money, he was told to recoup his "investment" from land sales.

The two men he accused, leading figures in the ruling People's Democratic Party, have denied the claims.

Nigeria was on Tuesday named as the world's second most corrupt country.

The BBC's Anna Borzello in Abuja says that a large and excited crowd turned up to hear Mr el-Rufai's testimony at a senate corruption inquiry.

"I explained that I did not believe in paying for any job, which in any case was likely to be a difficult and a thankless one," said the former head of Nigeria's privatisation agency.

'Army of senators'

Mr el-Rufai was recently confirmed as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, giving him control of the new purpose-built capital, Abuja, which is experiencing a property boom.

He said that deputy majority leader Jonathan Zwingina told him that selling a single plot of land would enable him to make back the bribe money.

Mr el-Rufai said that Mr Zwingina and deputy senate president Ibrahim Mantu had requested the money to secure the support of "an army of senators" to confirm his appointment.

Mr Zwingina said he was "shocked and horrified" by the accusations.

"I saw in that statement things that are completely fabricated, malicious and intended to damage reputations... There is no iota of truth whatsoever, no grain of truth in the allegation," he told the committee.

"I did not demand any money from el-Rufai. He is a pathological liar," Mr Mantu said.

Our correspondent says this is the first time anyone can remember that a senior government official has made a corruption allegation against his peers and then offered it up for public scrutiny.

The government has repeatedly said it will take steps against corruption and has set up numerous committees to deal with the problem.

But so far there has been little visible impact, our correspondent says.

El-Rufai Testifies Before a Senate Committee
October 6, 2003


I want to thank the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through you Mr. Chairman and members of your Committee for its resolution to investigate the allegation published in some national newspapers that a couple of Senators demanded money from me, to facilitate my clearance as a ministerial nominee. The Senate has by its resolution displayed great courage and given the people of this country hope that our country is indeed turning the corner of the perception of a corrupt nation where anything goes. The Senate has also voted overwhelmingly in support of transparency in public affairs and upholding the democratic principles of openness and fair hearing. Once again, I thank you distinguished Senators.

Let me start Mr. Chairman with a clear statement of my respect for institutions in general and the National Assembly in particular. I have spent all my years in public life lamenting the collapse of our institutions, and I will be the last person to disrespect the Senate or the House of Representatives. Indeed, as some Senators and the President, the Vice President and the Governor of my home state, Kaduna know, sometime in 2001, I actually had discussions with them to run for legislative office in 2003. I would not have considered that, if I thought that the legislature is not an institution worthy of serving, and building. Instead, it was my destiny to remain and build the Bureau of Public Enterprises into an institution that even international organizations and our detractors have acclaimed for professionalism, competence and integrity, until I was privileged to be nominated as a Minister by Mr. President.
Permit me to recall, Mr. Chairman, that the Senate blazed the trail in the war against corruption by passing the Independent Corrupt Practices Act in 2001, and had the singular courage of investigating its members in the past. These are actions worthy of respect and recognition.

It is important Mr. Chairman, to make this point to differentiate between my disappointment with the conduct of two members of the National Assembly, and my respect for the legislature. In the Senate, there are two former Vice Chancellors of my alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University, Professors Iya Abubakar and Daniel Saror, impeccable role models, and Barewa Old Boys like Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, and Professor Jibril Aminu. There are several others, including Senators Udo Udoma and Victor Oyofo, and my brother Senator Amah Iwuagwu, (with whom I worked together for General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s government to design and supervise the transition programme, which led to this republic), and others too numerous to mention. It will be a wild contradiction in law and fact to impute any disrespect to the Senate from the statement I make here today. Indeed, it is because I greatly respect the Senate and believe that our Senators are honourable and distinguished persons, that I felt the need to bring into the public domain, acts unbecoming of members of this Upper House.

Let me now go into the circumstances leading to the publication of the allegation. As part of our enlightenment programme on the President’s Vision to Retrieve the Abuja Master Plan, we had intensive interaction with several journalists. Some spent hours with me and my staff talking about the vision, and visited many sites within the Federal Capital Territory. I gave several interviews, and the quesiton was raised about how many people think that my boss, the Vice President, made money as the supervisor of the privatization programme, and how I must have facilitated it. I explained the impossibility of that happening due to the well-applauded transparency of our programme and its inherent checks and balances. This led me to relate a personal story which had disturbed and caused me great distress. This personal story was reported in the papers, and it has been my lot to handle the intended and unintended consequences flowing therefrom. I believe strongly that God has a reason for making this personal experience public at this time and for bringing us here today.

In June 2003, the President nominated me for appointment as a Minister. The President asked me to meet with as many Senators as possible to ease the process of screening. This I did, and many of you are aware that I made efforts by telephone and personal visits. It was a time when many Senators had not moved into official residences but I tried to see as many, and talk to as many distinguished Senators as possible. It was gratifying that many Senators felt that there was no need for me and many of my colleagues to go to the length we did to present ourselves to the Senate. It was a very enriching experience for me personally, as I moved from my comfort zone of a technocrat, to that of a potential politician.

The Vice President departed for a trip shortly after the announcement of the nominees, but left a message that I should meet with the Deputy Senate President Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and other principal officers of the Senate. Though I did not get the Vice President’s message, a distinguished elder brother also reached me and communicated the same message. During my BPE days, I enjoyed excellent relations with Senator Mantu, who had at various times introduced businessmen and party members to me with interests to purchase shares in the Abuja Sofitel, and some other companies. We handled all the introductions in accordance with laid down procedures of the National Council on Privatization. Whenever we met, Senator Mantu used to comment on my youth and claimed to have told the president that he felt that I had the wisdom of Solomon without the age of Methuselah. I would naturally say then that Senator Mantu would support my nomination. However, trying to contact him as advised, I observed that he became evasive. And after several attempts and missed appointments, when I caught up with him in his office, I waited for over 6 hours with a former Senator without having a meeting with him. During this period, I was fortunate to meet or speak with most of the other principal officers, except for Senators Tafida and Zwingina, who were abroad.

With the intervention of several ex-Senators, I finally met with Senator Mantu in his house, and he assured us of his support but pointed out that some detractors were bent on blocking my nomination. He was quite specific about who these detractors were, and how he had been asked by "the Villa" to nominate a replacement for me due to the unlikelihood of my being cleared. None of what the Senator said was believable but I went along, since he then promised to apply his skills at scuttling the effort of these "detractors." Several meetings over a couple of weeks with the screening dates and schedules being shifted over and over, I was visited by an individual who said that I needed to meet Senator Zwingina who had just returned from a trip to South Africa. I was taken to Senator Zwingina’s house in Asokoro for the first time, on July 6, 2003.

We had a brief meeting with Senator Zwigina, who suggested that we drive to Senator Mantu’s house. We met Senator Mantu who restated that in spite of his best efforts, I still had serious problems, and my detractors had recruited many Senators to block my nomination. He added that he brought Zwingina into the picture to counter their move, and that the two of them were "expert" in these matters. However, he added that money would be needed to recruit an army of Senators to act as my defenders, and stated that about N54 million would be needed to secure the support of a minority of senators excluding four or five senators that he was sure would vote for me without payment, and making allowance for absenteeism. He added that many Senators felt I had made money as DG of BPE and should therefore cough out part of it now.

Senator Zwingina added that Senators also felt that I would be difficult to get much from, once I became Minister, and it was safer to have something up-front. I explained that I did not believe in paying for any job, which in any case, was likely to be a difficult and thankless one and have never had such money. I reiterated that I made no money in BPE, and was actually indebted to a couple of people. He added that he was aware that I was being posted to FCT where the sale of a single plot by the Minister would make up for the "investment." I tried without success to convince them of the impossibility of what they are requesting, while they advised that I go and think about it. They were passionate about the opportunities I would miss if I fail to scale the screening, and I was adamant that I could not do what they asked. We parted on this unhappy note.

Corruption is an interesting concept that I have observed over the years. As a professional in the construction industry, I have faced situations of offers and demands for bribery for twenty years. I have during these years strove to maintain my honour and integrity. Not once in my career as a private and public sector technocrat, have I been found to desire what is neither legitimate nor due to me. I have never and will never compromise on the issue of corruption. The few instances that we came across in BPE, we dealt with decisively and relentlessly.

This is my story. This happened between the three of us. No one else was present except God Almighty, and no one else made any demand of me except these two Senators. I immediately shared my ordeal with the available authorities as the president was away on a trip, and also with my inner circle of friends. Naturally, I was disappointed, disturbed and outraged.

Nobody invites witnesses to demand a bribe. Corruption situations are best understood in terms of power dynamics. In allegations of corruption therefore, the question to ask is who has the power to extort? Who would want to part with his legitimate earnings unless a gun is placed on his head? Why would I relate this story if it did not happen? Why would I pick on two Senators out of 109? In what way do they constitute an impediment to my current position or well-being? Why should I have entered details of my meetings on 6th July 2003 with Senators Mantu and Zwingina in my Activities Record Book if same did not occur as recorded?
Since this story broke out, I have personally maintained my silence on the subject while other corroborating and circumstantial evidence have been unearthed. Those who think I have no "strong proof," that it will in the end, amount to my word against theirs, I wish to remind that it is evidence that leads to proof, and that both the Senate and the Nigerian society are not gullible, but intelligent and discerning.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, permit me to make a few remarks in response to some of the speculations and statements in the media on this subject over the last two weeks or so.

Furthermore, attempting to blackmail the President and the Vice president by widening the theatre of disagreement – suggesting that I was recruited to make the allegation to spoil the existing cordial relations between the executive and legislature is even more pathetic. The misconduct of two Senators out of 109, and an allegation by one minister (for now) out of 40 is not reflective of the reality on ground. Finally, this is nothing personal. I have had no prior negative relationship or ill-will towards any of the Senators mentioned. Trivializing the situation and diverting attention from the investigation are unhelpful, and the Senate should remain focused and not waver. I am grateful to the President and Vice president for affording me the opportunity to serve this administration, and I will give up my life in the defence of their honour and integrity. Those that attempt to smear them should carefully weigh the consequences because I intend to see this to a logical conclusion.

I have been counseled by many of my friends and well wishers that desperate people do desperate things. My life has already been threatened, hints that the FCT will receive zero allocation have been passed and a forensic audit of my tenure at BPE is being undertaken. None of these is new or unexpected even from my previous job. With the support of God, the president and Vice President, my colleagues in the Federal Executive Council, as well as the prayers of ordinary Nigerians who are tired of the hypocrisy and corruption of some of our elite, I am ready for any eventualities.

I understand the great risk I took by this action, but it has to be done and somebody had to do it, for the integrity of our Senate, our administration and our country. My generation in all spheres of our society, traversing the membership of the current National Assembly, the public service, the private sector, and civil society are sick and tired of pretentious public officers, brazenly corrupt and having the audacity to point fingers in other directions. We are tired of people who equate politics with open corruption, and who think that the way to obscure and bury the truth is to ethnicize, regionalize or politicize it or rope other people through blackmail and intimidation. I stand before you as a citizen of Nigeria, and say I have nothing to hide. My life, my bank accounts, my assets, my liabilities and my record of service both in public and private sectors, are an open book, and I challenge those I have mentioned to offer themselves to the same level of scrutiny. Afterall, we are all public officers and subject to the Code of Conduct.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators, I hope my statement will assist you in the discharge of the onerous assignment given to you by the Senate. Let me avail myself of this sitting to thank you immensely for giving me the opportunity to tell you my side of the story. I wish you success in your assignment and tenure in the Senate.

God bless you all, the National Assembly and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators, I thank you very much.

Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, OFR.

See: "The Nasir El-Rufai Testimony: Separating Farce from Substance" by Kennedy Emetulu

Nigerian senate dismisses minister's graft allegations

ABUJA, Oct 10 (AFP) - Nigeria's senate has rejected out of hand an allegation by a minister that two of its leaders demanded a bribe of more than 400,000 dollars to ensure his confirmation.

Nasir el-Rufai, the newly appointed minister for the Federal Capital Territory, this week testified before the senate ethics committee that the body's deputy leader and deputy majority leader had asked him for cash.

But the senate voted unanimously late Thursday to "consign the allegation into the dustbin of history with ignominy."

The motion complained that the senate's privileges had been breached by the allegation and agreed to bring the matter to the attention of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

El-Rufai had said that deputy senate president Ibrahim Mantu and deputy majority leader Jonathan Zwingina had asked for 54 million naira (420,000 dollars/391,000 euros) to smoothe his way into office.

The minister claimed not to have paid the bribe, but he was nevertheless confirmed in his post. He said he had been alone with the two men when the demand was made and could offer no proof of the exchange.

The accused senators strenuously denied the charges.

The minister made his claim on the same day this week that global watchdog Transparency International named Nigeria as the world's second most corrupt nation for the third year running.

Before Bangladesh was added to the list of countries surveyed, Nigeria topped the list of the world's most corrupt countries.

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