Mallam Nasir Ahmad el Rufai was Minister of the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja from 2003-2007. During his tenure, he was known for his reform efforts, including for support of Nigeria's then-newly formed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and for overhauling the infrastructure and city plan of the FCT. He was also a member of President Obasanjo's Economic Management Team, where he contributed to efforts to reform government procurement procedures, establish an extractive industry transparency initiative, and add transparency to public expenditures.
These initiatives aimed to create regulations and procedures that would end longstanding patterns of bribery and corruption in Nigeria. From 1999-2003, el Rufai was the head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and Member/Secretary of the National Council of Privatization, where he oversaw the privatization of many government owned companies. Following a brief assignment to President Yar'Adua's National Energy Commission in 2007, el Rufai left Nigeria to attend Harvard's Kennedy School as an Edward Mason Fellow; he graduated in May 2009. He has also attended programs at the Harvard Business School and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.
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