A detailed firsthand account of failed leadership and corruption in the Nigerian government.
The most populous nation on the continent, Nigeria is known as the Giant of Africa. But despite its oil reserves and other natural resources, its economy has been more of a dwarf. “We are...the disappointment of Africa,” laments El-Rufai in his stimulating but somewhat heavy-going account of eight years as a minister in Nigeria’s government (1999–2007), serving in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. “I have just one motive in mind—to tell the story of my public service years to prepare the younger generation for the sorts of challenges they may face,” he says. The son of a bureaucrat, the author built a successful career as a quantity surveyor on construction projects. After “a series of accidents,” he was appointed to the government agency responsible for privatizing Nigeria’s public enterprises. In some of the book’s most compelling passages, he recalls encounters with the country’s endemic corruption and graft, including bid-rigging and kickback schemes. “I am here voluntarily to work, not to collect bribes,” he tells a deputy director of the privatization agency after being offered a “gift” of $250,000. Public servants in Nigeria, according to El-Rufai, have two choices—“to join the dysfunctional and corrupt system” or “to want to change the system for the better in a way that benefits the many rather than the few.” In 2003, El-Rufai got the high-profile job of minister for the federal capital territory of Abuja after refusing to pay bribes to get his confirmation through the Nigerian Senate. Instructed by Obasanjo to “clean up this city and make it work,” he presided over a real estate boom, but by the end of the president’s second term, he had antagonized other members of the political elite and, fearing for his life, went into exile in the United States. El-Rufai, preoccupied with bureaucratic minutiae of interest only to policy wonks, doesn’t bring Nigeria, its people and its culture alive. But in highlighting the failures of its political leadership, he has performed another public service.
The author’s eight years in government provide him with valuable insights into Nigeria’s “dysfunctional” political system.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)