The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, has said the enormous amount of work he currently does as governor has robbed him of the opportunities to read books.
He stated this at the just-concluded Ake Arts and Book Festival which held in Abeokuta, Ogun State November 17-21.
The festival was organized by the Book Buzz Foundation, a non – governmental organization founded by poet and writer, Lola Shoneyin
The governor, author of The Accidental Public Servant, was on a panel with Howard French, author of A Continent for the Taking: The tragedy and Hope of Africa and China’s Second Coming: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa.
The panel discussion, with theme, Minding the Business of Africa, was moderated by Kadaria Ahmed.
“In the last two years, I have been busy with opposition, new political party and elections. I used to read a book a week when I was less busy. But now, I just read files and documents and so on. My advice to anyone that thinks being governor is nice, don’t try it. You don’t get to read; you don’t have a life,” Mr. El-Rufai said.
The governor also said he had been busy righting the wrongs done in the state before his emergence.
“We are negotiating contracts that were awarded. Some of them were excessively inflated. We are recovering monies that had been paid for work not done. We are doing so because we are more interested in recovering the monies than humiliating and exposing the people that did it,” he said.
Mr. El-Rufai said his greatest challenge was providing jobs for the teeming youths in Kaduna State.
“As a state governor the challenge for me is what to do to create jobs in Kaduna State,” he said. Eighty-two per cent of the eight million people in Kaduna State are below the age of 35. My challenge is not whether population grows next year or the year after. It is to get jobs for this young people, otherwise no one will sleep in peace.”
The governor added, “Frankly speaking, five months as governor, I am already tired. I honestly do not think that anyone who wants to do this job seriously can do it for more than four years and not burn out. When I look at some of my colleagues, some are putting on weight, they are looking nice, I ask them, ‘how do you do it?”
Mr. El-Rufai said he believed Kaduna is not only unique, but that it also has peculiar problems.
“It is the third largest state in Nigeria in terms of population and land areas, with huge challenges. We are very close to the North East. We have to be worried about suicide bombers everyday,” he said.