Abba Kyari: Mamman Daura’s Unwashed Clothe By Hassan Mukhtar
Some people say Aba kyari was Mamman Daura’s foster child. Others say he was his boy while others that he was just his man. It does not really matter which was which and which was not, especially now that Abba is dead.
Abba’s death from COVID-19 excited a lot of comments across the nation all because of the very important position he held in the Buhari government – Chief of Staff, and of course his larger-than-life posturing in that office. Some of the comments in the media were negative – the sincere ones in my view; some were positive – the insincere and self-serving one’s in my view. Mamman Daura’s comment the subject of this write-up was positive like the corona virus Abba tested to which ended up claiming his life.
I see Mamman’s efforts to clean up Abba not cleaning him because he was a cloth too dirty for the soap used. Because the soap could not wash Abba, it left him the dirty clothe he has always been, fluttering on the cloth-line he was dried where people still hiss at him and spite him. I now make a point by point response on what Mamman Daura wrote on Abba after the latter’s death:
1. Abba Kyari – A Great Public Servant. This is the title of Mamman’s piece under reference. Speaking for myself and I believe for many ordinary Nigerians, I could neither see the public nor the servant in Abba Kyari as chief of staff to the President. A haughty man who looked at the public with unveiled disdain was no servant. To be a public servant, a great one for that matter, you must accept the public as your master and do its bidding. Abba was none of these, at least as COS. He neither saw the public as his master nor himself as a servant as he rode roughshod over ministers and heads of agencies. One of the things dear to the public which Abba is said to have been their great servant, is health. Abba killed the ministry of health charged with responsibility of running the public health sector by forcing the minister of health Isaac Adewole to make his request for purchase of hospital equipment and supplies like drugs through the minister of agriculture just because he and the health minister had issues. He killed the ministry of health believing he would never need it since he could always go to London for his treatment. Alas this was not to be. COVID-19 came to town to ensure it would not be. With the arrival of COVID-19, London Abba was banking on closed its doors against sick people from outside wanting to come to it for treatment. Abba caught COVID-19 and could not go to London because the doors of London were firmly closed against him. Nigerian hospitals that would have treated him, he had killed. In the end, he had to share death with the hospitals he killed.
2. The first point brings me to how Abba, in the first place, got infected with COVID-19 – something Mamman did not comment on. Abba went to Germany on an electricity power matter the minister of power should handle. This was vintage Abba who delighted in usurping other people’s offices. He was a hubristic power monger who believed only he could do the job. This was what led him to nominate himself as a board member of the NNPC while he was at the same time chief of staff. This was unprecedented and very ugly. But it was not reversed.
3. Mal Abba Kyari was a man blessed with mountainous gifts. True, only that these mountainous gifts Mamman is referring to are mountainous gifts of wickedness, vindictiveness, crass opportunism, meanness, spite for others and even betrayal of his boss – the President. These were the mountains I saw about Abba Kyari, not those of Mamman’s imagination and insinuations. Ministers, departments and agencies of government wrote memos to the President, Abba sat on these memos refusing to pass them to the President. These memos being on how to move Nigeria forward, Nigeria could not be moved forward because the President never saw the memos and acted on them. These were acts of spite and meanness for the authors of these memos and of course betrayal of the President his boss.
4. Abba Kyari was a man of uncommon attributes of intelligence, diligence, hard work, loyalty to friends and worthy causes. Most of these virtues claimed by Mamman for Abba will ring hollow in the ears of anyone who knew Abba closely so much that the person may say tell it not in Gath. Abba was intelligent. Intelligence if it is really intelligence sounds or shines through results and outcomes. There is no visible, concrete and measurable achievement that could be associated with Abba in all the places he worked. Intelligence should make a man recreate an institution in a positive way through innovations he brings to bear on the institution. Mamman in his write-up enumerated a number of institutions Abba worked before becoming Chief of Staff. These institutions include: the New Nigeria Newspaper Mamman was editor of, NNDC, the Democrat Newspaper, United Bank for Africa among others. In which of these institutions did Abba Kyari shine as an intelligent man through brilliant initiatives that repositioned these places. He was articulate as a sub-editor of New Nigerian Newspaper, Mamman claimed. This bare sentimental statement does not tell anyone anything without showing by facts and figures how Abba’s articulation articulated New Nigeria, which is now dead perhaps because of what Abba’s articulation articulated it into. The UBA Abba left started gasping for breath like a corona patient soon after Abba left and may soon suffer a coronary event. NNDC like the New Nigeria Newspaper is dead; so is the Democrat Newspaper. All these institutions where the brilliant man worked are all dead and gone to where he eventually went; where perhaps for a change, he is applying his legendary intelligence to turn them around. A bank Abba worked which Mamman did not refer to for obvious reason was AIB. Abba killed the bank. In all the places Abba worked, he was not a rank and file man, but part of management and so was in a position to deploy his alleged intelligence to make a difference, but he never did. If he made any difference, it was to crumble these places. Diligence, hard work, loyalty to causes and friends. I can’t see these virtues Mamman claimed for Abba in the places he worked. Where is diligence and hard work in a man who sat on memos for months and sometimes even years without passing them to the C-in-C? What was he ‘diligencing and hardworking’ on when he could not pass memos to the President? Perhaps the diligence and hard work were to sit on these memos tightly to ensure they don’t get to the President. Sitting so long on Ibe Kachukwu’s memo, Abba’s buttocks developed spikes lancing the former minister of petroleum making him to cry out. I can’t see loyalty to friends and worthy causes in a man who betrayed his boss and perhaps friend by shutting him out so that he could not hear the cry of the people who elected him.
5. Abba Kyari grew out of those jobs claimed Mamman. Did he grow out of the jobs or he was pulled out of them by godfathers like Mamman or by crass opportunism that piloted his life? If he grew out of them because of merit in him, he did not seem to have left behind deposits of this merit in these places to see them through after he left.
6. Striving to improve himself Abba went to Warwick University in England where he studied sociology ending up in Cambridge where he studied law. Abba studied sociology in Warwick University, yet ended up a very unsocial fellow whose gaze held society in contempt. Sociology is the study of society to understand it and re-engineer it from the abundance of one’s understanding. There was nothing in Abba to show he either understood the Nigerian society or tried to re-engineer it positively when he got the opportunity of being COS; except of course he was prevented from applying his understanding by malevolence which he had in abundance. Abba Kyari read law in Cambridge; yet one never heard his name in legal circles in the courtroom, the academia or the corporate world he roamed scouting for opportunities. Part of our bane as a nation is overrating people who graduated from so-called world-class institutions or who graduated with first class without evidence of any utilitarian value the graduate has brought to bear on society. Albert Einstein never went to any great institution; yet he was about the greatest mind of the twentieth century courtesy of his Theory of Relativity. Abba Kyari went to Warwick and Cambridge, yet many people never heard of him until he became COS which he bungled.
7. To help him deliver on his job as COS, Abba assembled a team of intelligent people to help him actualize the mandate of the office. This is not true. In fact, the contrary was the case. If one missed anything about Abba Kyari, one would not miss the fact that he was not a team player and it is only a team player that will assemble teammates to help him play, score goals and win tournaments. Abba was none of these. He was an offish man who held the opinion of others in contempt though not having better. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If there was such team as Mamman claims, why were things not working in the Presidency? Why, for instance, were great guys not appointed into the government? Why were appointments delayed? Why are there no poster boys for the government?
8. Mallam Abba joined Buhari’s team and worked wholeheartedly in all campaigns through the drudgery of injustices of the 2003, 2007, 2011 elections without losing hope or sight of the ultimate goal. I believe even Abba Kyari in his grave will cringe from this one. Of all Mamman said in his writeup, this is the most disagreeable, blatant lie – not just half-truth or mistruth. One not only find it embarrassing and disgusting, one finds it belittling and diminishing of the great Mamman Daura. Even in 2003 when Abba supported Buhari, it was not out of belief in Buhari’s candidacy or love for him, but out of his anger and spite for Obasanjo who refused to make him CBN Governor. In the horse-trading that preceded the 1999 election, Abba Kyari who was initially proposed as running mate to Obasanjo was dropped in favour of Atiku. However, before he was dropped, he was promised the office of CBN Governor if OBJ wins. OBJ won, but Abba was not appointed CBN Governor and I believe it was good for Nigeria that he was not appointed because he, in all probability, would have killed the apex bank the way he killed AIB as its CEO and the presidency as COS.
9. It was his sense of betrayal by Obasanjo that provoked Abba into aligning with Buhari when the latter threw his hat in the ring. In 2003, it was the long shadow of Abba’s hate for Obasanjo that appeared on Buhari as love. After the 2007 election, Abba could no longer afford the pretense of being with Buhari politically and henceforth started referring to the President as a serial loser he would have nothing to do with. Consequently, all Buhari’s political committees or movements he was nominated into, he declined sometimes saying publicly he was not interested in a serial loser. It is the same Abba Kyari, Mamman is saying kept faith with Buhari till the sweet end in 2015. Nothing can be farther from the truth than this. For Abba, there was no faith to be kept, and he kept none. Both hope and goal were out of Abba’s sight and to be fair to him he never hid this wholeheartedly! Even halfheartedly Abba did not support Buhari beyond 2007. Given his antecedents, there was no way he could have gotten the position of COS without Mamman’s efforts to ensure he got it. The President respect Mamman a lot and defers to him on many issues. Mamman cashed on this and saddled him with Abba as COS – an office he handled very badly. Talking straight, Mamman you gave Buhari a bad chief of staff and shouldn’t be given another opportunity to give him another bad one if this is the objective of you laundering Abba which I believe it is.
10. Abba’s stewardship as COS provides a benchmark for subsequent COS Mamman said in his piece. I am not aware of any COS there was public outcry against as there was against Abba Kyari. It is this man, Mamman is saying provided a benchmark for his successors. Does Mamman want Nigeria to burn? Mamman’s submission here goes beyond self-service of the worse form to an invitation of civil revolt.
11. Abba was more intelligent than all the ministers put together. This statement from Mamman is unfortunate, uncharitable and sad. He does not need to run down others to make his man stand out. What are the facts of Abba’s intelligence and those of the stupidity of the entire ministers? Assuming what Mamman is saying is true; Abba had a hand in the appointment of ministers in 2015 and 2019. Why did he pick unintelligent people as ministers? Was it because of a failure of his reputed intelligence or because he wanted to turn the President into another serial loser in government by saddling him with unintelligent ministers? Was it because he wanted to have in government people he would load his intelligence over? Whichever was the case, there is nothing to laud Abba for. A further implication of Abba making ministers out of low-intellect people arising from Mamman’s claim of him being more intelligent than all the ministers is that the same man could not have assembled a team of intelligent people to help him man the office of COS as claimed by Mamman.
12. Unlike many Nigerian elites who tend to lean towards the Bretton wood institutions one-size-fits all solution, Abba looked inward for solutions. The same Abba that looked inward for solutions, Mamman in the same write up said was heavily influenced by two Nobel Laureates: Prof. Arthur Lewis and Prof. Armartya Sen none of whom was inward for Abba to be influenced by. Economics no doubt is not an exact science but a relative one and therefore one-size cannot fit all. If Abba was of this mindset as Mamman claims, he was right. The only problem is lack of evidence to support the claim. The evidence that exist from the mouth of his eulogizer on the contrary gives him away as a man who looked outward for solutions, not inward. With the abundance of intellectuals in this country, why should he draw inspiration heavily on Indian and western intellectuals?
13. Abba turned his house in Maiduguri into an IDP camp where he was feeding and clothing 75 people. I won’t want to dwell on this to any length except to say that the Abba some of us knew never liked living in Maiduguri because he kept saying the place was too hot for him. If he had a house there and gave it to IDPs, it was probably because he had no use for it and may as well be given out. The issue here is a sensitive one, which if not as Mamman has said it is, is a matter between him and God for which there may be consequences in the herenow and the hereafter.
Mamman’s spirited efforts to wash Abba remains what it is: a wasted effort. The claims made by Mamman for Abba do not jell with the facts and therefore very unhelpful to Mamman as to Abba. Abba Kyari is dead; may he find peace wherever he is. While praying for peace for the dead, one would advise we do not stir unrest among the living by praising a man undeserving of praise so that the President is once more prevailed on to appoint his kind as COS to continue with the messy work of the dead COS. Mamman Daura saying Abba Kyari provided a benchmark for his successors clearly shows he is in the process of providing another Abba Kyari for the President to continue with the ‘good work’ of the dead one. PMB don’t allow the likes of Mamman Daura to appoint another COS for you. Appoint your own person and you will do far better as President!
It is believed that Mr. President may not have been fully conscious of the fraternal-twins relationship that existed between his uncle, Alhaji Mamman Daura and his former Chief of Staff. Upon several similar tales from various individuals who knew the duo better than President Buhari, it is now incumbent upon him to look beyond self-seeking, self-serving and egotistical recommendations for Abba Kyari’s replacement. In order to right all the wrongs that late Abba Kyari heaped on the Presidency in the remaining three years, President Buhari must not go far in search of his replacement. Several of his trustworthy aides with proven track record of practical intelligence, performance history and unalloyed loyalty should be considered.
Above all, Mr. President must not lose vision to restore political allies, prominent APC members that were alienated by Abba Kyari. The imbalance in composition of states in geopolitical zones with particular attention to the South East, reconciliation of South East and South South on the abandoned property scandal, decisive but human approach to the Almajiri issue, education, infrastructure, technical education, inland Security and containment of the Fulani herdsmen rascality will stand as testament and legacy to your administration if you appoint a long serving aide, an ally, a man who has suffered like you, the humility of his failed campaigns and the pains of rejection over the years as the new Chief of Staff. Again, look inside your camp, Mr. President.
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