Mallam Abba Kyari was the very best of us. He was made of the stuff that makes Nigeria great
If that eulogy in this opening quote above from President Muhammadu Buhari on his former Chief of staff, Mallam. Abba Kyari is truly what he was, could it then be the reason why everything seems to be falling apart in this regime to the extent that military Generals are being warned publicly against thinking of coup?
Recall that when death through coronavirus came and took way President Buhari’s first chief of staff, Kyari, not a few felt that a lot of the government’s problems went with him. Even at death there were palpable relief in certain quarters that some problems of the country were gone with him for good.
A cheeky, impudent Commissioner in Kano state lost his job for openly celebrating the demise of Kyari.
The Commissioner actually lost his job not because what he said was not populist among his people, but more because he was not wary. In addition, his Governor Abdullahi Gandoje needed to divorce himself clearly from such careless outburst before his name enters the black book in the Villa.
So many factors could explain why there were such perception of Kyari while he lived. Under him as Chief of staff to the President, the loquacious First Lady Aisha Buhari had cried out publicly that her husband’s Presidency was hijacked by two men and Kyari was fingered as one of them. She went further to junkyard all the minuses of the regime on these two men whom she accused of reaping where they did not sow.
Kyari’s snooty show of power did not help issues as he was the overwhelming and an omnipotent figure in every sector of governance. He created a super power bloc that was seen by Presidency watchers as determining everything.
Nigerians called this body the cabals. They were more than a kitchen cabinet because even the First Lady, the head of the kitchen herself could not penetrate and often had to scream from outside to be heard.
This ubiquitous body had names like the President’s super nephew, Mamman Daura, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, late Mallam Isa Funtua among others in the team.
It was believed when they operated that whatever they said regarding the administration was final. Anything whether contract or appointment sealed by them was a done deal. The notion was also that Kyari contacted COVID-19 in Germany or Egypt where he was ensuring he sees everything about the huge contract on power involving a German company, the Seamen.
Not even the hullabaloo from the other room or the noisy Nigeria media about lopsidedness in key positions could change anything. At the trying times of the President’s illness this group held-sway.
The few times the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo tasted power and tried to flex muscles by relying on the constitution as acting President, he was put in his proper position where he now ‘Siddons and looks’. For daring to sack one of the influential cabal members, the then Director General of the Department of State Security, DSS, Lawal Daura, the VP’s sins became grievous, enough to attract a quarantine as he never smelt that acting position again ever since. The cabal made sure there was never such vacuum even in the President’s absence.
Even amidst the obvious crisis among operators at the corridor of power these group held on and made sure there were stability at least seemingly. One man was seen as the engine of that political train, Abba Kyari, a man who loved power, and knew what to do at any given time without being loud. He was an intriguing character whom the President described at death as the very best of all and the President’s nephew who worked closely with him noted that he was better than any member of his brother’s cabinet.
When COVID-19 separated the fight by taking away Kyari to the far beyond, pundits were hoping that two things will likely happen, one being to see a new Presidency with human face, less nepotistic, and with a more pragmatic response to public opinion or the exposition of President’s weakness which Kyari and his team were said to be covering.
More than six months after Kyari’s demise it would be difficult to say which of the two variables are gone and which still exists.
Political watchers are divided at where to place the administration in the absence of Kyari. Some will say that his exit still remains good riddance to hopeless rubbish, others feel that the quake created by his sudden exit still persists. It all depends on where you are at a point.
The appointment of a seasoned diplomat, Prof Ibrahim Gambari tried at inception to yield some positive results showing flashes of a responsive regime but it never lasted.
The nepotistic image of the regime is not yet being addressed, sensitive positions continue to be concentrated on a particular region.
However, the apparent dismantling of the cabals, a clear consequence of Kyari’s death has remained a huge plus as only in that circumstance could it have been able to happen. Mamman Daura a hitherto an overwhelming influence in the system is now on indefinite holiday in Europe, Kingibe, the cat of the regime has been conspicuously missing in action very unlike him, Isa Funtua another figure in the system, is on a permanent away journey to the World beyond.
The First Lady and her team appear relieved in the fallout especially when they are known to have facilitated the coming of Kyari’s replacement. But the question remains whether they are satisfied with the state of affairs in the country. Even though in control it still does not appear clear in their head what direction to go.
The question of who is in charge of affairs continues to linger in the political space.
Insecurity in the land particularly in the North are evidently overwhelming the government. Everybody is leaving in fear, the revered Sultan of Sokoto, a retired military man who should know screams that nobody is safe anywhere any longer.
The moribund security chiefs who have exhausted their vitality if they ever had any are staying put and frightening us that terrorism will take 20 more years before it can be wiped. This scary alarm is coming from the Chief of Army Staff Gen. TY Buratai who had severally in the past told the nation that the Boko Haram sect had been defeated.
Everybody wants an immediate change of guard on the security chiefs for freshness of idea and possible new vitality but the President only thinks otherwise, maybe supported by the obviously tired but ambitious chiefs who now go about heralding military coup stories which possibly only them can avert.
Added to the glaring insecurity threat is the fast dwindling economy that has officially returned to recession and heading to depression. The regime has so shamelessly borrowed from other nations that even the pension money saved by workers for their retirement is being borrowed by government. Inflation has climbed to an all-time high of 14.23%.
Nigeria Universities have remained shot over feud between lecturers and government. Taxation, all manner of price hikes and tariffs for utilities have remained on regular increase. Everyone could see a desperate government in search of cash to operate.
When in the past some Senators called for the resignation of the President if he can no longer cope with the challenges, it was rubbished as bad belly cry coming from the opposition. In the month of October when #Endsars protesters were reacting to insecurity, some Northern leaders said it was coming from Southerners to remove the President.
Today the same Northern elders wants the President to resign for failing glaringly in his duty of securing the nation, the basic constitutional requirement of a President, which is safeguarding lives and property of the citizens.
In my abstract thinking on the deteriorating state of this nation my mind went to Abba Kyari, may God grant his soul eternal rest. And I tried to wonder, could his death be responsible for the worsening decay in our land? Could his presence in today’s Nigeria have made any difference if he was around?
This my wide thinking is however without prejudice to the fact that in all, a Presidential system which we operate says it loudly that the buck stops on the table of only one man, the President.
Therefore, the efficiency, sense of judgement, the mental alertness or otherwise of the person on the seat makes the huge difference not on who is or was there as his man Friday.