by Afolayan Adebiyi

Should we as a Nation have mourned the fallen Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari considering the enormity of his ‘sins’ against the Nation? In view of this, I ought to have entitled this piece ‘The many sins of Abba Kyari’. This logically would have, at least, give a pointer to the supposedly horrendous ‘sins’ the man committed against our Motherland and flows along with the voluminous hatred spew at his hurried mortal departure.

“Do what is right, not what is easy nor what is popular.”
― Roy T. Bennett.

Late Malam Abba Kyari

Since Friday midnight announcement of the death of Malam Abba Kyari, the immediate past Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, some people have thrown into the lagoon in their ‘godlike judgments’. The Cyberspace has been occupied by majorly unpalatable belching. Reading through, however, it is disheartening that no one, not a single person has pointedly come out to tell us his ‘sins’, yet the palpable rage continues unabated.

But like the famous Roman populist politician/Soldier, Julius Caesar stated in his letter to the Roman Senate, after the quick victory over the Phamaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela: Veni Vedi, Vici (literarily, I went, I saw, I conquered), I decided to profile his many sins for which some loathsome minds are ready to crucify his soul.

Those who would rather not want Abba to sleep nor rest in the World beyond are quite in legion. But does the man’s memory deserve all these? How about the saying that “Don’t speak ill of the dead”? He went to Germany with the Power Minister to sign an agreement with AG Siemens on how to improve power supply in the country. He came back infected with the deadly disease. He never lives to tell the story. He went. He saw. Did he conquer? That aspect is for the chroniclers of history which shall be done at a latter-day.

The three Kyaris’

The name Abba Kyari, itself is offensive. Abba Kyari!? Not many people were able to separate the many Abba Kyaris. How many Abba Kyaris? Why all Abba Kyaris? The Army General, or the Police Super Cop, and the quintessential technocrat and administrator. Mere hearing Abba Kyari here and there riles their intestines. Even their ages were bandied interchangeably. Some carried 82, some 68, some 48. Yes, all the ages belong to Abba Kyari, but different personalities that were not related in any way, save for the name.

But the Abba Kyari of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidency was 68 years. He had lived his life inaudibly out of limelight and razzmatazz associated with the various offices he was fortunate to occupy. He said little, appeared scantly on the television screens, and never a journalist’s delight.

Late Malam Abba Kyari,

Where and how he acquired his academic qualifications ought to be nobody’s headache. Neither his father nor mother was an ex-this or ex-that that we can say used the nation’s resources to train and developed a young Abba into a World-class technocrat. But rather, than look at an ‘Aboki’ with fantastic educational background and first-class intellect, we perhaps, out of pure envy, or some other sinister considerations, chose to focus on his role in the last five years of the country’s democratic rule.

Here is a little about his resume.

Abba Kyari obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of Warwick, England, in 1980. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge, England and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983. In 1984, he obtained a Masters’ Degree in Law from his alma mater, the University of Cambridge.

Between 1988 and 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna, (publishers of Democrat Newspapers). He served with the Borno State Executive Council as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in 1990 and was Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited, between 1990 and 1995.

He attended the International Institute for Management Development at Lausanne, Switzerland, and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994 respectively.

Abba Kyari was Executive Director, Management Services, United Bank for Africa Plc. (UBA) and later the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. in 2002.

He served as Honorary Member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Investment in Nigeria between 2000 and 2005. He is a recipient of the Nigerian Honor Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).

Yes, Kyari was appointed the Chief of Staff to the President. He appointed an ‘Aboki’, not their godfather. This was a big sin, right; and offense punishable with ill willing on transition. Not surprising anyway. His principal, Muhammadu Buhari had read his own epitaphs and obituaries several times. Yet the stubborn man he is, he keeps soldiering on with full determination to rid the nation of her many ills. A task Abba Kyari also set himself to rid.

The Office of the Chief of Staff was alien to our administrative setup. Never backed by the Constitution. No occupier will not clash with the hierarchy. This hitherto unknown nomenclature, suddenly became a plum one when our creative genius, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the Governor of Lagos State in 1999. It was he who imported the American nebulous Chief of Staff into the Country’s administrative setup. Chief Obasanjo followed at the Centre, and since then, all follow suit. Before then, the Secretary to the Federal or State Government does all the critical jobs.

No one mind the American interpretation of the roles of a Chief of Staff, few bother to find out. Since it was a good avenue for the President or the Governor to smuggle in through the back door, a deputy, which the Constitution would not have allowed. The Vice President or the Deputy Governor, are political creation backed by the Constitution. The President or the Governor is manacled in choosing their running mate. But the Chief of Staff can be freely chosen. From American where the position was imported from, the Chief of Staff is widely noted to be more powerful than the Vice President. One simple fact we still adamantly refused to accept here. And in this game, loyalty, dedication and commitment to the idea and ideals of the principal are the ingredients needed to be a successful Chief of Staff. In this wise, no door is locked on Abba Kyari. He performed excellently well.

But here his many sins suffice. An ‘Aboki’ who was not a cart pusher in Agege Market, or Onitsha Market, but was educated in England, did his Advanced Levels, bagging a two first degree in Sociology and Law, then a Master’s degree all in a space of six years. And by 1085, he was called to the Nigerian Bar.

As a lawyer, he practiced in the Chambers of Fani Kayode and Sowemimo and Co, yes, this same enfant terrible Femi Fani-Kayode’s old man. He left to edit the Democrat Newspapers between 1988 and 1990. That same year, he was appointed as the Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State. He was also at various times Executive Director and later Managing Director/Chief Executive of UBA In 2002, he was appointed a Director of Unilever PLC. He held the national honors of Order of the Niger (OON).

At these posts, in ExxonMobil, in UBA, at Borno State Executive Cabinet, he had little power to destroy their corruption anthills. He could only watch and shook his head in total dejection. But once he stepped on the big stage that is Aso Rock, he became more determined to rout corruption and all its shades from our land.

Fortunately, had a good ally in Mr. President, who totally believed in his vision and mission. He totally blocked all the routes of Oil imports and subsidy racketeers, thus saving the country huge sums, and drawn the ire of the so-called oil magnates. He then moved to the fertilizer importation ring, and smashed the rackets. This totally riled the Northern leaders who are feeding fat on the penurious agrarian life of their people.

What else can a Public Officer not do to invite venoms from corruption Lords, Oil barons, their lackeys and hail boys in  Social Media? Having blocked petroleum subsidy scams, he then moved to a somewhat ‘no go area’, the foreign exchange business. This is where millionaires were made overnight.  He scattered the racket too. Then all Hell was let loose. By the time he reached the power merchants, all the fraudulent elites had congregated against him.

Mallam Abba Kyari did these and many more. He was alleged to have stifled the Vice President of any influence. That he hijacked the machinery of the government from the President himself. I can only chuckle here. Abba was Buhari’s alta ego, his man Friday if you want, and therefore, naturally would be closer to him than the Vice President he barely knew just before the 2014 General Elections. This rule applies all over the place. Alhaji Lai Mohammed too was far more powerful than any of the three Deputy Governors that worked with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as Lagos State Governor.

Nigeria is a nation wallowing in a rhapsody of absurdities. Truth becomes lie in the instant and vice versa. The malevolent is celebrated, while the benevolent is persecuted endlessly. Before his death, Abba had been a target of several ‘verbal virus’ attack. Several of these virulent social media posts were only doing their masters; bidding. The real drummers are in hiding, perhaps putting out a half-hearted condolence messages. He was only unfortunate to have fallen victims of COVID-19 now. And to the ones gloating over his death, you have not seen the end of the plague. So why this premature jubilation?

We still may not understand the absurdities underlying the unguarded heinous vituperations against Abba Kyari in death now. But certainly at another time, perhaps, when the Buhari Presidency is long gone, we may know.

Malam Abba Kyari being laid to rest

Trust Nigerians to somehow add comic relief to any sadden situation. On Saturday, as the remains of the man had been laid to rest in Abuja, a ‘Prophet’ was busy howling on the Social Media that he should be listened to and given a chance to resurrect the dead Mallam. The nation missed a big relief by not harkening to his call. They refused to listen to one Pastor Goodheart Val-Aloysius. He should have been tried and tested, as they say. That the chap did promise to revive Abba Kyari from the dead is by no means a joke. Well, this is the resurrection period. But that window of opportunity is not shut, or lost completely. While praying that there won’t be any need for his prayers to revive any of the COVID-19 positive patients, however the sick are still there at the various treatment chambers. The nation can avail herself of efficacies of his ‘prayers’ and if unfortunately, any other COVID related casualty should emerge, he should be wheeled into his Church, or is it Shrine, for revival.

Now you should relate the quote above to this man. Malam Abba Kyari came, saw and conquered. He also did not do what is popular but what is right according to his conscience. He is gone to his maker, done his bit and left the rest.

Images: Courtesy Google and Freepik.

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