White Paper

On December 1, 2009, international lawyer Robert Amsterdam published the White Paper entitled “Reform vs. Status Quo: The Campaign Against Nasir El-Rufai and the Degeneration of Progress in Nigeria.”  The paper details the political attack of false charges and slander made against El-Rufai by the current leadership, and offers a perspective on the mechanisms of corruption which have repeatedly encumbered political reform, good governance, and transparency in Nigeria.  Writing in the preface, Amsterdam argues:  “Anyone who is familiar with the details of this case will agree that it is politically motivated persecution.  For anyone who disagrees, this White Paper marks the formal announcement that we are open and willing to defend Nasir on any platform available with all the facts in front of us.  That is much more than we can say about those who oppose us.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PDF VERSION OF THE WHITE PAPER “REFORM VS. STATUS QUO” HERE.  Below are the extracts of the Foreword written by former attorney general Kanu Agabi, and the Executive Summary.


I thank Robert Amsterdam for making known, through this book, the sacrifices of my friend Nasir El-Rufai for the emancipation of our dear country. He was my friend before the present controversies. That friendship was founded partly on his courage, vision for our country, his resilience and his patriotism. Since these controversies arose I have found no reason to reconsider my feelings towards him. On the contrary, if there ever was need to stand by him, it is now. I can say of him that he is God’s gift to our country. I appeal to those who will be opportuned to read this book by Robert Amsterdam to do so dispassionately.  The things that El-Rufai has had to do for the nation are difficult things. He has had to tread upon hard and difficult ground and to step on many and often very big toes. When he had to take difficult decisions, he did not hesitate and his courage never failed him. He is a fair-minded, hardworking and unrelenting man. His great humility is beclouded by his rigid opposition to evil. El-Rufai is a man it behooves us to strive to understand.

God has ordained that whenever there is work to be done there should be somebody to do it. I regard El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu as those agents of God who laid the modern foundations of the rule of law in Nigeria. Being human, it is to be expected that works of such monumental proportions as they had to do might be attended here and there with errors. We cannot fail to act just because we are afraid that we might err. The emphasis ought to be, not on what went wrong, but on the good that was done. The human vessels that God himself has used have never been perfect. God uses those who possess the required qualities and who are prepared to do his will. Such a man is El-Rufai.  

In assessing the contributions of El-Rufai to the establishment of law and order in our country, we should bear in mind that during the dictatorship which lasted for nearly three decades, the judiciary and the police were neglected with the result that these institutions became very weak and ineffective. Law and order were maintained by the military. And whenever they found it convenient they ousted the jurisdiction of the courts. As a result corruption permeated every department of our national life. Strictly speaking, we were not a nation under law. The nation was stigmatized and despised. That was very briefly, the state of the nation when civil rule was introduced in 1999.

With the advent of civil rule the pendulum swung from one extreme of dictatorship to the extreme of liberalism.  Corruption and violence became even more rife. Elections were attended by various malpractices. At one time, the nation was ranked as the second most corrupt in the world. In the various States and Local Government Areas, the structures for accountability were destroyed and the governors seemed above the law. The master-plan of the Federal Capital Territory was grossly distorted and land allocations were attended by all sorts of scandals, abuses and malpractices. One of the earliest actions of President Obasanjo’s administration was to examine the federal capital territory, Abuja, with a view to correcting the distortions of the master-plan. In the end the conclusion of the federal government was apparently that the damage was beyond repair. And indeed for nearly four years after that examination nothing was done to repair the damage.

All hope seemed lost when, early in his second term the President appointed Mallam El-Rufai as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. He proceeded immediately to do what seemed impossible – to restore the master-plan of the Federal Capital Territory. This entailed the demolition of houses which had been erected along sewage lines and the restoration of parks which had been parceled out and allocated to men and women of rank. Land allocation in the Federal Capital Territory was streamlined and impostors were arrested and charged to court. Naturally, this led to all sorts of controversies and resentment by those whose actions had led to the distortion of the master-plan. The vast majority of Nigerians commended the efforts of the minister and have remained grateful to him to this day.  I am one of those Nigerians.

At the time that El-Rufai assumed office as minister of the Federal Capital Territory, I had left Office as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and was serving as special adviser to the president on ethics and good governance and also Nigeria’s human rights adviser (HEURIST). I can attest to the fact that his tenure as minister coupled with the work of  Mallam Nuhu Ribadu at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  marked the true beginning of the restoration of the rule of law in Nigeria. Prior to that we had merely paid lip-service to the concept of the rule of law. The hope which we now entertain that there shall be no further distortions to the master-plan of the Federal Capital Territory is owed to the courage and sacrifices of Mallam El-Rufai. By his works he has immortalized himself and will never be forgotten when the history of this country comes to be written.




It is an unwritten rule of Nigerian politics that the presidency is “rotated” between the North and the South of the country.  It is common knowledge that one person from the North stood out as the one of the most experienced, serious, and accomplished political office-holder by 2007:  the former head of the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.  This White Paper tells the story of how a fearful government is attempting to destroy a successful political career through false charges.  Their goal is to destroy the country’s class of reformers, maintain a state of corruption and impunity, and most importantly, barring a popular leader from political contention.

The El-Rufai saga has deep roots.  In April of 2003, as Olusegun Obasanjo was re-elected president of Nigeria with more than 61 per cent of the vote, the political economy of Nigeria was showing several signs of hope. The on-again, off-again nature of Nigeria’s approach to reform since independence was on the upswing toward greater transparency at many levels of government and society. Independent bodies had been established to crack down on corruption and financial crimes, a global oil boom was once again bringing economic prosperity to the country, and democratic institutions were in the process of consolidation.

In keeping with this momentum, President Obasanjo immediately nominated Nasir El-Rufai, the country’s privatization czar for the previous four years who had a reputation for no-nonsense work-a-holism, to head the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration. The position is part of the president’s cabinet and carries as one of its responsibilities the oversight of far-reaching reforms in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

For El-Rufai, the appointment was merely the logical next step in a career defined by battling the ruling elite to change a notoriously corrupt system of governance in Nigeria driven by a political culture of patronage.  One of El-Rufai’s first actions as the new FCT chief was to bring to light the revelation that the Nigerian Senate’s deputy majority leader and deputy senate president solicited from him a 54 million naira bribe (US$414,000) in exchange for a speedy confirmation to his new post. When the ensuing uproar subsided, the Senate voted to dismiss El-Rufai’s accusations and he remained in the position, but the Nigerian Senate as an institution, never forgot or forgave him. The fact that the day Nasir El-Rufai brought his bribery accusations to the Senate floor – October 7, 2003 – was coincidentally the very day Transparency International named Nigeria the second most corrupt country in the world out of 133 countries surveyed underlines the gravity of Nigeria’s situation.

This episode is just one of many examples of the difficulties El-Rufai and other proponents of reform encounter when attempting to improve Nigeria’s political environment. Beginning with his role advising the transitional government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar following General Sani Abacha’s death, to his tenure as director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and then as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja (FCT), El-Rufai has consistently acted in favour of transparent governance, even in situations in which there was enormous political pressure to conform with the status quo. Throughout its young history as an independent nation, efforts to reform the politics of corruption in Nigeria are often met with fierce resistance, and the accompanying accusations and charges against El-Rufai during this time fit into this larger pattern.

This document seeks to clear Nasir El-Rufai’s name and reputation. It will begin with a review of his career in public service, including his role in the transitional government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, his tenure in the BPE, and then Minister of the FCT. The various charges brought against El-Rufai are summarized, as well as the subsequent rebuttals and lawsuits he filed in his defence to counter the falsehoods of the accusations. The persecution of El-Rufai has occurred within the context of Nigeria’s political culture, underscoring a familiar and disappointing trend of the leadership threatening to reverse the country’s tentative steps toward reform back the status quo, and in the process, the government has spread unacceptable lies to its citizens and the international community.

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23 Responses leave one →
  1. Muhammad J. B. permalink
    December 2, 2009

    Mallam Nasir has been an exemplary leader in a country that does not understand and practice good governance. In his years as Minister, and throughout his career, he has done a great deal to define the distinctive character of who a leader should be. He has brought to all he does a powerful devotion to the country he loves – and has inspired a similar devotion in others. particularly myself. He has also been a strong and influential voice within the then federal executive council on matters of national concern. He is someone whose organizational and financial expertise has long benefited not just the FCTA but the entire country. He has been and will remain a valued role model for me and I Believe for a great many citizens of this country.

    Today, I hope all will join me in saluting Mallam – and letting him know how much we appreciate all he has done, and continues to do, for Nigeria. to paraphrase Mr. Kanu Agabi, “We cannot fail to act just because we are afraid that we might err”.

    It is noteworthy today that a former attorney general has boldly written that contrary to what we are meant to believe the duo of Mallam and Ribadu marked the true beginning of the restoration of the rule of law in Nigeria.

  2. Segson Adeyemi permalink
    January 8, 2010

    Prior to the emergence of Mal. El-rufai and Nuhu Ribadu, I actually see the north as been composed of lazy “agbada” wearing people who only make a living by laying about. (With sincere apologies now that I know better). Although Sir Ahmadu Bello died a long time ago, he was noentheless my hero (not even by kin’s father AWOLOWO)up till the time Mal. Nuhu Ribadu and El-rufai emerged.

    The inestimable achievments of the duo el-rufai and nuhu ribadu changed my mental picture completely untill recently when the present administration started appointing people with peasant knowledge as Ministers and Head of Parastatals, especialy with majority of them from a particular part (state) of the federation.

    It is surprising that these two (2) stars from the North were discovered by a leader from the south, Olusegun Obasanjo. Late Ahmadu Bello would have also discovered and parade them to the world if he were to be alive today!

    My second confession has to do with Yar’Adua’s Ministerial appointments in 2007. I, though unconsciously, lost interest in Yar’Adua’s administration after El-rufai’s name was missing in the list! I immediately concluded in my mind that the present administration may not succeed! I don’t really know why i felt that way. I can say that I have been proved right!

    It is needless of me to start talking about the profile of the duo, but I have decided to be a part of whatever programme they intend to pursue in Nigeria for Nigerians.

    We Love you all

    Thank you.


  3. Nurudeen Tafida Sambo permalink
    February 13, 2010

    I’m surprising nigerians! Imagine a person who have never respect the rule of law during his era is now a hero in their faces, very unfortunate! Does that mean we have to destroy the future of our country before we become a hero? Does that means we must become hypocrite before we can be recognize? Does that mean our mases did not deserve to be a good citizen since there are less privilege in the govt? Mr nasiru answer this questions for me.

  4. February 17, 2010

    The emergence of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai, at the corridors of power in Nigeria, was the introduction of progress and development. These men should courage and dedication in their duties towards their fatherland.

    The present witch-hunt on their personalities by some disgruntled elements of the political class is a disservice to their service and the nation at large. We will do everything within our powers to stop this madness. Ribadu and El-Rufai will forever remain mine, and our heroes.

    We are solidly behind your pursuit in life. The enemies of this Nationa will not triumph over you.

    Thank you for all your contributions.

  5. Tahir ferobe permalink
    February 19, 2010

    el rufai present ordeal is not unconnected with the fact that he step on some so called big toes while trying to restore the FCT master plan…Only recently i met with some group of street hawkers, in the cause of our discussion one of them was telling me that abuja is no longer a place to stay and am kind of confused and i asked him why do you said so. he said and i quote. ” a group of thugs stop me on my way going home assaulted and collected all my belongings and left for their shanties and nobody dare to say a word against them,imagine such thing are happening on daily basis now.how dare somebody try such things during el rufai it cannot happen..though am his victim but i missed him.”So you see history has judge him and time has vindicated him.Abuja is fast deteriorating..as a youth i believe in somebody like him who can secure the future of this country..

  6. Ajuwon Oluseye permalink
    March 2, 2010

    I was begining to have hope in this country when people like El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu were in the position of authority in this country, but this present administration just destroy the hope completely by putting Anakonda or whatever his name is who is more of a minister of injustice to head ministry of justice. It is a great shame, my head is permanently bend in awe of this country. I am praying and waiting for when people like El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu will come back to the stage in this country. We need more of them.

  7. Ajuwon Oluseye permalink
    March 2, 2010

    In developed countries and any country that want development, they look for the best of brains, people with vision to rule them. In Nigeria we have not been fortunate, we always go to the other end to seek our leader. When are we going to stop this and start choosing people with ideas and vision? God will help us. Nigerians I do not know how we are going to do this, but we need to come together to bring people like El-Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu and the likes to come and rule us in this country enough of rubbish.

  8. Mubaraq Tope Akere permalink
    May 3, 2010

    * “In accordance with the law, let us constructively, unbiasedly, nonpartisan, criticize our leaders entrusted with the mandate of the people for good governance, and in our desire for law, order (peace, unity and progress).Change is a process.” Mubaraq Tope (M.T.) Akere

    * “Integrity (honesty) is like the rising sun, dishonesty is like the setting sun. Integrity (honesty) is meant to be priceless, uncompromisable. Can you afford to barter it for an amusement, a paltry price for survival, ego, in your quest to become successful? There are uncountable prospects for legitimately succeeding with vision, wisdom, knowledge, faith, enrichment through learning,.” Mubaraq Tope Akere

  9. kenneth Athekame_gregory permalink
    May 7, 2010

    Mallam nasir and ribadu they are indeed agent of lights men of moral uprightness,they define what a distinctive leader should be or look like in a country where darkness strives .

  10. Dr Oguejiofor I B permalink
    June 1, 2010

    You are truly a great leader. I know much more will yet come from you and yours. We are proud of you

  11. June 4, 2010

    No matter how and no matter what,Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i is a kind of person (great hero) that a country like Nigeria needs in order to progress. I really SALUTE U.

  12. June 13, 2010

    el rufai present ordeal is not unconnected with the fact that he step on some so called big toes while trying to restore the FCT master plan…Only recently i met with some group of street hawkers, in the cause of our discussion one of them was telling me that abuja is no longer a place to stay and am kind of confused and i asked him why do you said so. he said and i quote. ” a group of thugs stop me on my way going home assaulted and collected all my belongings and left for their shanties and nobody dare to say a word against them,imagine such thing are happening on daily basis now.how dare somebody try such things during el rufai it cannot happen..though am his victim but i missed him.”So you see history has judge him and time has vindicated him.Abuja is fast deteriorating..as a youth i believe in somebody like him who can secure the future of this country..

  13. August 22, 2010

    “We who seek to build democracy must not be bound by the false assertion that the rule of law is democratic. A re-examination of history teaches us that our powerful legal system is a massive fortress against popular sovereignty. One of our most important tasks is to revisit fundamental questions that were resolved by undemocratic means in the past”. believe, like so many other Nigerians, in the democratic institution and dispensation in the country. As a committed democrat, I believe this is the only way we can survive and progress as a nation and develop as a people. I also believe in the Rule of Law, which is defined as the “principle” that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance. We actually need this for our democracy to survive. I have highlighted the word “principle” because principle is in turn defined as “a general truth used as a basis of reasoning or action, or as a personal code of conduct, a scientific law shown or used in the working of something” (Oxford English Dictionary). A principle is therefore not binding on anybody except the person who holds on to that principle; it is discretionary and not to be taken as a whole truth or necessarily as a benchmark, however it is often regarded as a guide in explaining one’s actions or beliefs. A principle can be bad or good, wrong or right, depending on the circumstance or the individual. For example, Adolf Hitler’s principle of Nazism was not something that was widely acceptable, yet it remained a principle. where are the nigerian principle or our principle was build base on corruption and unethical reasoning? let us be realistic nd impartial, at least as far as Democracy, Nigerian-style is concerned. Yes, we all have our biases but sometimes we should put all these aside if we are truthful or honest about making our country, not great (I don’t care about Nigeria being great now) but a liveable, peaceful, enjoyable and progressive nation for all of us in future……………………

  14. September 22, 2010


  15. March 14, 2011

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  16. Ahmad, Aliyu permalink
    July 18, 2011

    Nasir, never mind all negativities that you face so long as your intentions are for the overall good. Allah IS surely by you and WILL see you through.

    Please remain focused and objective; don’t falter in your steps and please do not deviate from the good name and reputation you have built and gained.

  17. March 13, 2014

    I believe God will never leave us to be crying over the years without sending a helper that breaks off the mith, Nasir El-Rufai is indeed one of such persons

  18. Haruna Bala Sako permalink
    September 22, 2014

    Mallam Nasir Al-Rufai is the man that I respected so much based on his intellectual capability and honest. who always doing and speak the truth no matter the threat to his life.
    The man that will be the best president of Nigeria ever had if he will give a chance to do so.
    “So help him God”

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