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Abba Kyari: A lasting legacy!

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Sir: President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) has described his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari as a “loyal friend and compatriot.” Kyari was a devoted Kanuri Muslim and a family man. He attended St. Paul’s College, Wusasa, Zaria in Kaduna State and graduated in 1970. He proceeded to the United Kingdom and graduated from Warwick University with a degree in sociology and a degree in law at the University of Cambridge. He attended Nigerian Law School from 1982 to1983. In February 2016, Dr. Haruna Ismaila, the president of the St. Paul’s Old Boys Association (SPOBA) and Azed Echehebiri, the chairman of the SPOBA Magazine “KUFENA,” in its maiden edition, profiled three Ambassadors – Arc. Darius D. Ishaku, the executive governor of Taraba State, Senator David Umaru from Niger State and Abba Kyari from Borno State. In the February 2017 edition of the magazine captioned SPOBA North America Atlanta Reunion 2016, I was invited to write a piece titled Pauline Principles and Values as Catalyst for Positive Change in Nigeria. In it, I wrote that “what have remained consistent in their (Ishaku, Umaru and Kyari) behaviour and action are the spirit of citizenship, cooperation, fairness, honesty, integrity, kindness, respect, responsibility and compassion…”

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In 1985, Kyari accompanied the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who served as the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters during General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military rule to watch me defeat David Imonitie to win the Kaduna Clay Courts Tennis Championships and since then our paths never crossed. To understand and appreciate Kyari, it is important go back in time and chronicle what might be going on during his formative years and how they have shaped his thinking and his relationship with others. Let’s begin with the events of January 15, 1966 – the military coup and the counter coup that led to the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970) and the challenges of “Reconciliation, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation” which led to unprecedented political, economic and social difficulties. In 1970, I was a 10-year-old boy growing up at the State House, Marina, Lagos, the epicenter of national government. I experienced a nation in crisis. The resultant effect of the civil war and subsequent failures in the three “Rs” led to Nigeria developing what I would characterise as a collective “epilepsy,” a group of neurological disorders characterised by recurrent epileptic episodes and seizures.

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Kyari saw this as a challenge and committed himself to doing his part, considering the weight of a population of 200 million people with about 250 ethnic groups, speaking approximately 400 languages and practicing traditional African religions, Christianity and Islam will puts on him as the chief of staff. Three major ethnic groups continue to strongly dominate and influence social and political events. There are other minority groups putting pressure on the presidency as well. Geoffrey Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs, his friend of 43 years and many other have sent goodwill messages to his family and described Kyari as “a very dedicated, conscientious, forthright, roundly qualified, astute and patriotic servant of Nigeria, a loyal staff, a global citizen, unimpeachable integrity, incorruptible, intelligent, well-read and a man of God.’’ Senior Abba Kyari, RIP. May Allah (God) give you Jannatul Firdaus.

Dr. Sadiq A. Abubakar, an Olympian, former national tennis champion.


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