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Kyari’s demise: Realignment of political forces thickens

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Abba Kyari


• Kyari A Crucial Gatekeeper To The Presidency, Treated Everyone Equally –Buhari
• He Worked With Passion, Integrity Of A Patriot –NGF
• Presidential Aide’s Passage Depressing, Saddening –PDP
• His Death Should Remind Nigerians That COVID-19 Is Real –Atiku
• His Departure Should Not Be In Vain –Tinubu
• No One Is Immune From Coronavirus –Ohanaeze Ndigbo
• He Was A Good Man –Yoruba Ronu

With yesterday’s committal to Mother Earth of the remains of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, the late Abba Kyari, a massive realignment of political forces may have commenced in Aso Rock with a view to recalibrating the President’s kitchen cabinet.

And amid the flurry of tributes that heralded Kyari’s passage, Nigerians and the Buhari Presidency are now left to contend with the complications, intrigues and power play that is gradually building up.

Kyari, 67, and one of Buhari’s closest aides died Friday, in a private hospital in Lagos State, as a result of complications from Coronavirus Disease, which he contracted during his trip to Munich, Germany, on March 7, 2020.

His remains were conveyed to Abuja, yesterday morning, in a private aircraft, which torched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, at 9:00am. On hand to receive the body were government officials including, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu; and the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chief MKO Abiola’s former running mate, Babagana Kingibe, among others. 

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The body, which was conveyed to Defence House, Maitama, Abuja, for the burial prayers was later interred at Gudu cemetery, at about 11: 20am, barely 10 minutes after it arrived the venue in a white casket.

The burial rites were supervised by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).Sadly, despite severe warnings from the NCDC that Nigerians should avoid mass gatherings, family members, friends and top government functionaries brazenly flouted the warning, as well as failed to maintain social distancing as they congregated at the burial site. Other than top government officials, several other persons, including many without any form of protection were part of the funeral ceremony.

In the wake of Kyari’s death, the NCDC urged Nigerians to adhere to its guidelines on safe burial of victims of the virus. The appeal was contained in a message it posted across its social media handles, yesterday morning.

“Even at this time, as we mourn loved ones lost to COVID-19, including recently deceased Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, we need to refrain from attending mass gatherings to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the NCDC stated, adding, “Let us #StaySafe and protect each other.”In addition to violating the social distancing directive, the Federal Government also breached its directive by handing out Kyari’s body for burial.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had, at a forum in Abuja on April 2, 2020, said families of coronavirus victims would not be allowed to claim their remains for burial, as they are properties of the Federal Government.

At that event, he said: “Coronavirus is very dangerous and contagious; there is no medicine for it yet and it is not just capable of killing, overwhelming healthcare systems, but it will destroy the economy. In some countries, they are putting dead bodies in big refrigerators because the morgues have filled up. Nigerians should not forget that this is not the type of corpses that can be claimed for burial because it must be handled by the Ministry of Health.”

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THE circumstances under which the late powerful chief of staff contracted the virus, brought to the fore, his pervading influence as the de facto President. Kyari had, according reports, traveled to Munich, Germany to sign an energy supply agreement on behalf of Nigeria.
 
While questions were asked as to why the Chief of Staff had to perform such an important role, despite not being an elected official or Minister of Power, political actors in the country rehashed how he intervened in the leadership crisis within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
 
The temporary reprieve, which the party’s leadership witnessed, especially on the part of its embattled national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was said to be a product of Kyari’s intervention.
  
The intervention in the APC’s leadership turmoil was just a minor part of the role that the late Kyari’s played in the party, because President Buhari publicly accorded him the privilege of being privy to virtually all dealings of his presidency.
    
Shortly after a retreat with newly appointed ministers, the president enjoined the ministers and heads of MDAs to always route their correspondences, or book to see him (Buhari) through the Chief of Staff.
  
That was about the first official acknowledgement of what many have always believed that Kyari was the shadow president, being a member of the so-called cabal that defined President Buhari’s presidency. At one point, the wife of the President, Aisha, had to cry out that two powerful men that never played any significant role during the electioneering were holding her husband’s administration to ransom.
  
Now, with the departure of the powerful CoS, many are wondering what becomes of most bilateral agreements that he brokered, or stood in for the president. Apart from his role as the President’s most trusted aide, Kyari maintained the delicate balance of the power in the Presidency, particularly when it comes to political supremacy battles among chieftains of legacy political parties that fused into the APC, long term associates and family members.
 
With Kyari death, Buhari may be forced to fall back on the influence of his nephew, Mamman Daura, who is at dagger drawn with his wife, or open up the Presidency to hawks in the APC that have eyes on juicy positions or those carrying out permutations and calculations for 2023.
 
A similar regime of confusion, which trailed the emergence of Dr. Bukola Saraki, as the 8th President of the Senate, against the wishes of APC chieftains, is again building up and threatening to boil over with the search for Kyari’s successor. Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, and Senator Ibikunle Amosun, are some of the names that are already popping up, even though it appears none of them has the single-minded determination and quiet focus of the late Kyari.
  
Although Kyari and Daura worked hand-in-glove to ensure that Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, did not succeed in his schemes to step into Kyari shoes after the 2019 electoral victory, the governor could as well take advantage of the new opening as a confidant of the president.

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Sources have also spoken in hushed tones about the likelihood of Buhari giving some considerations to recently dethroned Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II. On the political front, Kyari’s exit might end up pitting state governors elected on the APC platform against the chieftains of the party that have always wanted to take advantage of Buhari’s taciturn and aloof leadership style.

PRESIDENT Buhari apparently pained by Kyari’s demise, and as a way of keeping safe, yesterday, said that he “will not be available for condolence visitors,” urging citizens to offer prayers for the repose of the soul of his departed aide.

In his tribute, Buhari said his decision was in recognition of the enormous sacrifices and contributions made by the deceased to the success of his politics, administration and the overall development of the nation. 

The President, in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, also urged Nigerians to strictly observe the social distancing rules prescribed by the NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Health, and other relevant authorities.

In the tribute, Buhari wrote: “He was only in his twenties when we first met. A diligent student, soon after he was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad – first at Warwick and then law, at the University of Cambridge. But there was never any question Abba would bring his first-rate skills and newly acquired world-class knowledge back to Nigeria – which he did – immediately upon graduation.

“Whilst possessing the sharpest legal and organisational mind, Abba’s true focus was always the development of infrastructure and the assurance of security for the people of this nation he served so faithfully. For he knew that without both in tandem, there can never be the development of the respectful society and vibrant economy that all Nigerian citizens deserve.”

Buhari continued: “In political life, Abba never sought elective office for himself. Rather, he set himself against the view and conduct of two generations of Nigeria’s political establishment – who saw corruption as an entitlement and its practice a byproduct of possessing political office.

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“Becoming my Chief of Staff in 2015, he strove quietly and without any interest in publicity or personal gain to implement my agenda.“There are those who said of him that he must be secretive – because he did not have a high public profile. But Abba was the opposite: he simply had no need, nor did he seek, the cheap gratification of the crowd; for him, there was nothing to be found in popular adulation. He secured instead satisfaction and his reward solely and only from the improvement of the governance of this great country.

“Working, without fail, seven days each and every week, he acted forcefully as a crucial gatekeeper to the presidency, ensuring no one – whether minister or governor had access beyond another – and that all those representing and serving our country were treated equally.

“He made clear in his person and his practice, always, that every Nigerian – regardless of faith, family, fortune or frailty – was heard and treated respectfully and the same.” VICE President, Yemi Osinbajo, and his wife, Dolapo, yesterday, expressed condolences to Buhari and Kyari’s family.  

Osinbajo in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, prayed God to comfort and be with them.  It reads: “Dolapo and I express our sympathies to the President, Mrs. Kulu Kyari, the children, and members of the family on the passing of the late Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President. May the Lord comfort and be with you all in Jesus name, Amen.”

In the same vein, Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, in her condolence message wrote: “From God Almighty we came and to him we shall return. I condole with Mrs. Kulu Abba Kyari, and the entire family of Late Malam Abba Kyari over the death of their husband and father.

“I pray that Allah (SWT) will forgive his shortcomings, grant him Al-Jannatul Firdausi and give the family the fortitude and patience to bear the loss, Ameen,” she wrote, while also wishing all those infected a speedy recovery and prayed for an end to COVID-19 pandemic.

FORMER President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, also condoled with Buhari over Kyari’s. Obasanjo in his condolence letter to the President Buhari, which was also made available to The Guardian by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, described Kyari’s death as painful.

The four-paragraph letter reads: “I received the news of the demise of Alhaji Abba Kyari, your Chief of Staff with great sadness, as he lost the battle against the dreadful killer disease, COVID-19. 

“Abba Kyari’s death must be painful to you and to his family and friends, but you can all take solace in the fact that he died in the service of his country. 

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“His death must be a solemn reminder to all of us that COVID-19 requires all hands on deck soberly, cooperatively, humanly, humanely, justly, equitably, fairly and comprehensively to be able to fight it successfully and to get all Nigerians back to good health and healthy economy.”

FORMER Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, while condoling with Buhari, described the deceased as a loyal aide. He said: “I have received the death of your Chief of Staff with profound grief and sorrow, and I convey to you my deepest and heartfelt sympathies at this sombre moment.”

The Wazirin Adamawa reminded Nigerians that the coronavirus pandemic is a reality and it respects no political and social boundaries. He explained that the death of the Chief of Staff should galvanise Nigerians to support the efforts to contain the deadly virus. 

NATIONAL Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, described Kyari as a man of accomplishments, whose death due to the raging coronavirus pandemic should not be in vain.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Malam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President. He was an extremely able, loyal and talented man, who dedicated his considerable skills to the success of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Tinubu said in a statement signed by his spokesman, Mr. Tunde Rahman.

“Whatever someone will try to say about Mallam Kyari, the words will prove insufficient. His influence in government and throughout the land was substantial and profound. He will surely be missed. My deepest condolences go to President Buhari, the people of Nigeria, and especially the family of Mallam Kyari over this tragic loss. May Almighty Allah comfort the president and the Kyari’s family at this difficult moment.”

ON its part, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said it received with shock, the news of Kyari’s death. Chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi said: “On behalf of all the 36 state governors under the platform of the NGF, I write to offer our deepest condolences.

“The late Abba Kyari steered the activities of your office with the passion and integrity of a patriot, who wished nothing, but progress for his country and demanded nothing, but decorum, care and respect for those who sought your attention as the President.”

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“With wisdom and foresight, he forged strong ties between the President and the ministers, and strengthened the bond between our forum and your administration.“He did not allow public perception to affect his loyalty to you, and remained a pillar of your administration to his last breadth.”

The All Progressives Congress (APC), in mourning the demise of Buhari’s chief of staff, said that the President has indeed lost a competent, trusted, loyal, strong right-hand man, and longtime adviser, who promoted, protected and defended his interest in good times and adversity.

The party in a statement by its National publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, noted: “Even in death, the fond memories and indelible strides Mallam Abba Kyari left on earth will be celebrated for a long time. We remember a cerebral Nigerian who excelled in his private dealings, professional endeavours and public service.”

The party condoled with Kyari’s immediate family, party faithful, the President, and the people and government of Borno State over the painful loss, and prayed Almighty Allah to be merciful and grant the deceased Aljanat Firdaus.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described Kyari’s death as depressing and saddening, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The party comforted “Buhari, the Kyari family, the government and people of Borno State and the nation at large for this painful loss, and prays that the Almighty Allah grants Mallam Abba Kyari eternal rest.

“Similarly, the PDP commiserates with families of all the victims of COVID-19 pandemic and prays for the speedy recovery of the sick, who are receiving treatment in various isolation centres.”

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Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in mourning the deceased presidential aide said his death was an indication that nobody was immune from the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in a statement said: “It is with shock that I learnt of demise of the Chief of Staff to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Abba Kyari, as a result of the deadly Coronavirus.

“On behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, I commiserate with President Muhammedu Buhari and the good people of the country on this unfortunate development.

“By the death of Alhaji Abba Kyari, all Nigerians should now understand that nobody, both high and low, is exempted from this ravaging pandemic and should observe strictly all precautionary measures put in place, especially social distancing.

“This exhortation becomes more imperative because from reports, the virus is said not to be a city case alone anymore, but has crept into communities, making it more ominous and dangerous.”

Also, a Southwest socio-political group, Yoruba Ronu described Kyari’s death as tragic, stressing that the deceased was a good man. In a message signed by its President, Mr. Akin Malaolu, the group said, “we must accept the truth about ourselves that we most often act lackadaisically when it comes to accepting advice and criticism.

“At this stage, we must accept that no one has an impregnable armour that provides shield from COVID-19 if we are still unbelieving and careless.”The group warned that COVID-19, which is an ultra speed moving virus, “has gained strength both in distance and spread. If the nation is lucky, we may exit from general lockdown in mid July 2020. We must pray for cure and vaccine to come to our aid.”
 

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