By Eric Elezuo
The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, is dead. His death was announced by the media aide to the president, Mr Femi Adesina, bringing to an end, an era of defacto leadership.
“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” said presidency spokesman Garba Shehu in a tweet on Friday.
“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” he said in a second post on Twitter.
Another Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, also confirmed the death.
“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari”, he said.
“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.
“May God accept his soul. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly”, Adesina added.
Regarded in many quarters as the defacto president, Abba Kyari served as the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari from 2015 until his death. He tested positive to Coronavirus on March 24, 2020, and was not heard of again until his death in the late hours of April 17, 2020
A Kanuri from Borno State, Kyari in 1980 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick, and also received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. In 1983, he was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School.
In 1984, the man who many believed was more controversial than most government officials, obtained a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge and attended the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994, respectively.
On March 24, 2020, it was made public that Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23, following an official trip to Germany nine days before. It was also reported that Kyari has underlying medical conditions, and was secretly flown out of the country. He later rejected these claims, and was moved from Abuja to Lagos.
Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria.
From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna.
In 1990, he served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State.
From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the secretary to the board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Kyari was an executive director in charge of management services at the United Bank for Africa, and was later appointed the chief executive officer. In 2002, he was appointed a board director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.
In August 2015, Kyari was appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Since his appointment, Kyari has become an influential figure within the Buhari administration. During the administration’s first term, he worked mainly behind the scenes to implement the president’s agenda. In 2019 with Buhari’s re-election for a second term, he ordered his cabinet to channel all requests through Kyari’s office. Further enhancing his influence within government circles, and being labelled as the de facto head of government.
In 2017, following a leaked memo, Kyari became embroiled in a public argument with the Head of Civil Service, who was later removed from office and arrested. In 2020, in another leaked memo, Babagana Monguno the National Security Adviser accused Kyari of meddling in matters of national security.
Kyari was married to the sister-in-law of Ibrahim Tahir, and was a father to four children.
‘I hope to be back at my desk soon’, was his official last words to the public. May his soul rest in peace.