“He died at a time he was needed the most” has become an everyday part of Nigeria’s political obituary cookbook. The late chief of staff to President Muhammadu, Abba Kyari, who died a week ago was feted with that cliché by people who knew him or those writing on behalf of people who knew him. His death from the dreaded coronavirus came with mixed reactions – those with access to Abuja, including politicians, contractors and journalists wrote glowing tributes of the man that the average man on the streets had learnt to loathe. In some instances, they chided those who disagreed for daring to disagree.
However, in the midst of the chaos to canonize or demonize the late chief of staff, one thing that was glaring was the fact that the politicians and their journalists’ sidekick will always protect themselves and those through whose hands they feed. Nigerian politicians are not alone in praising their dead colleagues that those whose lives they ruin everyday have despised. Hiltler was a nice guy to some people. That’s a fact but not to the Jews. Abacha was so corrupt-less our president declared that he did not steal Nigeria’s money. Yet his government has benefitted from repatriation of the same Abacha’s loots.
Maybe, if over 500 Shiites murdered in Zaria and Abuja had met Kyari, they would have had a change of mind. Maybe if the over 300 IPOB member killed in Onicha and Aba exchanged whatsapp messages with Kyari, they wouldn’t have been gunned down by soldiers and police officers like wild animals on the streets. A man’s goodness, especially that of public office holder is always judged by its impacts on the general society not on the lives of the very few who had access to him. That is why the recent canonization of Kyrari reeks of putrid elitism.
Abba Kyari was, perhaps, the most powerful man in Nigeria from 2015 until his dying days. Buhari, who is said to be suffering from weakening health conditions and senility was said to had handed over the running of the affairs of the country to Kyari, a Cambridge law graduate who was propped up by the Aso Rock cabal to confer stability to Buhari’s instability. And so, began the most ethnocentric and nepotistic government centered on the principle of appeasing the core North to the detriment of the rest of the country. One man was behind such policy – Abba Kyari.
Those who loathe Kyari even in death are not wrong, so are those praising him for taking bullets for his boss. The later are quick to remind the rest of Kyari’s educational qualifications, his texting them all day like gossip mates and sharing of books in London, but his Cambridge education did not in anyway manifest in the way he ran a government which he did not stand an election for. From the manner of political appoints to mowing down of unarmed Nigerians in Onicha, Aba, Enugu, Zaria and on the streets of Abuja, the government did not in anyway depict a Cambridge mentality.
These recent friends of Kyari did not reach out to him to ensure that clear democratic norms are established. They did not reach out to him when the judiciary was being pocketed, a Chief Justice of Nigeria removed by a mere ex-parte order. They did not reach out to him when the DSS desecrated the court in their bid to arrest Sowore. They did not force him to apologise for sending DSS officers to the National Assembly to arrest the then Senate President. What then where they doing while the presidency he controlled from behind did all these? The true test of friendship is based on convincing our friends to treat others with respect, unless their claimed friendship, especially from the journalists who are trained to stand with the masses is only but on WhatsApp.
In October 2018, due to a power struggle between Professor Isaac Adewole, the then minister of health and Kyari, the CoS moved procurement from the health ministry to that of agriculture, thereby stripping the ministry and the minister the power to procure needed equipment for a fragile sector under his supervision. Kyari, who like his boss, used London doctors for his health needs did not see the coming of coronavirus or the effect of such backward thinking on the lives of over 200 million people. Adewole, known for making careless remarks about doctors and their plights, did not make it to the cabinet in Buhari’s second term but hundreds of people died because the ministry could not procure equipment while hundreds of doctors fled such a toxic working environment.
On February 23, 2020, in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, the health ministry raised an alarm that it could not procure necessary equipment needed to effectively tackle the coronavirus outbreak because it had been stripped of procurement powers by the presidency. This failure of the ministry to buy all that it needs for the outbreak one way or the other claimed the life of the man who had engineered it. He could not be flown to London for treatment, they only sent his medical records.
On February 17, 2020, a protest letter dated December 9, 2019 written by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, a Major-General (rtd) and addressed to Kyari was planted in the media.
In the letter, Monguno blamed Kyari for the “Disruption of the national security framework by unwarranted meddlesomeness”
According to Monguno, “It should be noted that the Chief of Staff to the President does not direct security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Nigeria — his job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr President’s written directives.
“Similarly, you are reminded that the Chief of Staff to the President is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country.
“As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations as well as ambassadors and high commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the Constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President.
“Such acts and continuous meddlesomeness by the Chief of Staff have not only ruptured our security and defence efforts but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr President has sought to achieve.
“As professionals, you are aware that the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires concerted and centralized effort taking into account internal, external and diplomatic factors.
“It is therefore detrimental to our collective security that the Chief of Staff who is a non-supervising minister holds meetings with diplomats, security chiefs and heads of agencies.
“Pursuant to the foregoing, you are by this letter directed to desist from these illegal acts that serve nothing but the continuous undermining of our national security framework. Any breach of this directive will attract displeasure of Mr President”.
Here is a breakdown of the disruption of national security framework:
Kyari issued orders to the service chiefs and not Buhari
Kyari was responsible for FG’s lack of response to the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Middlebelt and the rest of the South
He was responsible for our foreign affairs flip-flop.
Boko Haram became more brazen because only Kyari coordinated and interacted with service chiefs without the knowledge of the NSA.
All those headline of ‘Buhari in closed-door meeting with service chiefs’ were lies. They were meeting with Kyari without the NSA. After the meetings with Kyari, Buhari will appear from nowhere in white caftan to smile on camera and take pictures.
Every avoidable killing, rape, armed robbery that occurred within that period happened because of Kyari. These criminal activities consumed thousands of lives while property worth billion were destroyed.
Seven out of 10 appoints in NNPC and their subsidiaries were Northerners. So are other high-ranking federal government agencies. He ran Nigeria like his personal estate.
So, did he really die when Nigeria needed him the most?