Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai was sworn-in and officially became the governor of Kaduna state on May 29, 2015.
The ceremony was not as smooth as the presidential inauguration in Abuja: some guests and the new governor of the state were pelted with stones and other objects by unknown youths.
El-Rufai condemned the attack and appealed to the people of the state for support. Read the excerpts of his first speech on the post of the governor:
Today, before God and man, we celebrate the beginning of our liberation. We rejoice in our good fortune, and for the opportunity of a new beginning. You, the people, have willed it so. You have acted to start a new era of hope, and of equality, and of opportunity, and of a brighter future for all our children. As our leader, Muhammadu Buhari, assumes the exalted office of President of our country today, we salute fellow Nigerians for choosing unity over division, humility over excess, honesty over duplicity, and hope over fear. From today, we declare that we are slaves no more.
By choosing us to lead all our people — man and woman, adult and child, Christian and Muslim — on the difficult road to our freedom from soul-crushing poverty and human degradation, I pledge to you today to work day and night to make Kaduna great again. Together, we shall make this corner of our country a state worthy of our children.
As we celebrate on this day that God has made, let us remember, with sober senses, exactly what challenges confront us. For far too long, our country has been a place where hope goes to die, where the future has been stolen from our children, where our leaders have commandeered our resources largely for their own personal enjoyment, and where grinding poverty has become a fact of daily life for nearly all our people.
Our state is no exception. Kaduna State is in a difficult situation. As soon as we have all the facts in coming weeks, we shall lay bare to you just how deep a hole we have dug ourselves in the past several years. But this much we already know. Our finances are a shambles. Kaduna is the second most indebted state in our country. Our state is staggering under the weight of billions of naira in debt and other liabilities. As we all know, merely by walking the streets or seeing our neighbors everyday, the state of our state is abysmal. Our schools and hospitals, our roads and bridges, our villages, towns and cities, all are markers of backwardness. Too many of our children are hungry and in rags and in the street. Our society is divided along religious and ethnic lines. Worse still, our state cannot stand on its own feet. We have become a state of beggars, a condition of dependency that is an affront to our dignity and our humanity.
The fact is that today Kaduna State cannot meet its obligations without handouts from the federal government. We cannot comfortably pay salaries of our teachers and nurses and civil servants. And after struggling to pay salaries, we can do little else. We cannot fix the schools, help our farmers, repair our roads, or treat the sick. We have arrived at a dead end. The patient is sick, and it needs radical therapy.
Are we to have a government that exists solely to pay the salaries of political office holders and public servants, or would we prefer a state that devotes the bulk of its resources to providing decent schools, health facilities and roads, using the public servants as responsible instruments for delivery of the services that our people so urgently need? Can we neglect to raise the proportion of our state budget going for capital projects, thereby preferring investments over consumption? Do the resources of the state not belong to all its citizens, rather than for the pleasures of a few?
I say to you today, my fellow citizens of Kaduna State, that the time has come for us to face up to our responsibilities as citizens. We must take many difficult decisions. We have no choice but to postpone immediate gratification and sacrifice the fleeting comforts of today for a better future for our children. This is what change means. You have spoken loud and clear that the time is now to stop the madness, and to live up to our fullest potential as human beings in the 21st Century.
In recognition of the difficult challenges we face, our deputy Governor and I have concluded that the sacrifices that change requires must begin with us. We have decided to take a pay cut and donate 50 percent of our salaries and allowances, until our fiscal situation improves. We understand that leadership by example is the most persuasive way to demand sacrifices from all of us as citizens. We pledge to avoid ostentation and foolish bigmanism, and to value transparency, modesty and accountability. We will obey the same rules that we demand of all of you. After all, the law is the difference between civilization and anarchy. We submit ourselves to the principle that all are equal before the Law.
Our problems are many, and therefore our priorities will be the few key things that will allow all our people the chance to fulfill their highest aspirations. We pledge to you today to focus on jobs, security, education, and healthcare. We made these promises to you during the campaign, and we fully intend to fulfill them.
Insecurity is an obstacle to progress. Too many of our communities have suffered from communal violence, cattle-rustling and armed robbery. We will work with law enforcement officials to drastically reduce violent crime. We will reform the administration of justice to ensure speedy conclusion of cases and send a clear message that there will be sanctions for unlawful conduct.
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As we seek to insure the safety of life and limb, so also must we nurture the mind. It may be a cliche that our children are our future, but that does not make it any less true. We will embark on school reform so that even poor children stand a chance to make a better life. To that end, the government you have asked me to lead will guarantee free and compulsory basic education for every child up to JS3, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.
We have to return to these fundamental values. Without education I will not be standing before you today, a poor boy from a hardscrabble village who lost his father at a young age but who nevertheless got the opportunity of a decent education, which took me from a village school to Barewa College to Ahmadu Bello University and ultimately to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. That educational journey prepared me for this day.
I cannot emphasize this point enough, especially to all our children from however poor a home and however distant a village: I am you. I was you about 50 years ago. I was lucky to have been born in a time and at a place when our country cared a bit more than it does now for the less privileged among us.
And so in the end this is my pledge to you. No matter the inevitable mistakes that we make from the decisions that we take, I promise you today that I will work myself to the bone in the service of our children. I shall seek any help from any quarter, stay awake all night if I must, in order to give our children the opportunities that were afforded me. I say clearly to you today, in this our capital city and to the millions listening all over our state, from its northern scrublands to its fertile valleys, from its commercial centers to its university towns and its struggling villages, whatever my shortcomings turn out to be, a lack of trying will not be one of them.
My brothers and sisters, the fate of Kaduna is in our hands. The future of our children depends on our toil. The task is daunting but we are willing and we are determined. Four years from now, by the grace of God and the active support of you all, we will all be able to say that the leaders in whose care you have placed your affairs today have given their all for the brighter future that we all seek.
Nasir El-Rufai is a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory and a prominent member of the APC. He was declared the winner of the April 11 governorship election in Kaduna state, securing 1,117,635 votes. The runner-up, PDP's Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, got 485,833 and conceded his defeat.