Fact-Check: Are el-Rufai’s claims on South-East, civil service true?



In a recent interview with Channels TV, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, made multiple claims relating to his state and Nigeria.


TheCable checked some of the claims, and here is what we found.

CLAIM 1: “Right now the federal bureaucracy is over-bloated. There are over 800 ministries departments and agencies.”


Speaking about the complexity of the Nigerian state, and the need for a functional public service, el-Rufai noted that the present structure of the public service is ineffective and hampering national development.


TheCable searched the official website of the federal civil service commission which listed 1316 ministries departments and agencies.

CLAIM 2: “Members of the legislature are allowed to have their own businesses.”

VERDICT: False. Nigerian legislation doesn’t approve or permit full-time public officers to own or run private businesses, trade, or professions, except for farming, basically to promote agriculture.

El-Rufai was referring to a public servant, the speaker of Kaduna house of assembly who got a contract from the state government.

According to Section 6(b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Tribunal Act, public servants are only allowed to engage and participate in running a farm, either subsistence or commercial.

The CCB is an act of parliament backed by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. It is legislation, not a subsidiary or a by-law.


Also, the same provision is found in sections 2 (a) and (b) of the fifth schedule to the 1999 constitution, which only provides an exemption for public officers who are employed on a part-time basis.

In 2016, there was an attempt by the senate to amend the CCB Act.

The proposed amendment went through second reading within 48 hours after it was first read, leading to a division among senators. Some protested that the amendment was not in the interest of Nigerians, while others were in full support of it.

In 2020, the house of representatives also made an attempt to amend the CCB and tribunal act, to permit public servants own and run private businesses, aside from farming – which the law only approves.

However, the amendment is yet to be passed into law.

CLAIM 3: “Borno state is four times the size of the five south-east states.”

VERDICT: False. In terms of land mass, Borno is only 2.5 times bigger than the five south-eastern states put together, not 4 times as el-Rufai claimed.

The governor made the claim while analysing some of the difficulties faced by Nigerians with the scarcity of the new naira notes. He said the peculiarity of the challenge differs from state to state, noting that some states with limited banks will require residents to travel several kilometres to deposit their funds.

Borno, the north-eastern state, created in February 1976, was subdivided in 1991 when Yobe was carved out of it.

Known as the Home of Peace, to its west is Yobe state. It also shares borders with the Republic of Niger to the north, Lake Chad (and the Republic of Chad) to the north-east, and Cameroon to the east.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that the size of Borno is 72,609sqkm, making it the second largest state in Nigeria after Niger.

S/N South-east States Size
1. Abia 4,900sqkm
2. Anambra 4,865sqkm
3. Ebonyi 6,400sqkm
4 Enugu 7,534sqkm
5 Imo 5,288sqkm
Total 28,987sqkm
Using the same NBS data, TheCable summed the land mass of the five south-east states in Nigeria – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo – and realised that the total was 28, 987sqkm, which is exactly 2.5 times smaller than the size of Borno.

CLAIM 4: “Kubau local government is larger than Anambra state.”

VERDICT: False. Kubau local government in Kaduna is 2,363sqkm, while Anambra is 4,865sqkm.

NBS doesn’t have data for the size of Kubau, one of the 23 LGAs in Kaduna.

According to the City Population website, an online platform that provides statistics for cities across the world, Kubua is not larger than Anambra as the governor stated. Contrarily, Anambra is actually twice the size of Kubau.



•This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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