Abba Kyari: He loved Buhari so much that he hated Nigerians

By Sunny Igboanugo on 20/04/2020

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Buhari and Kyari

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (October 21, 1833 to December 10 1896) was a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. Though he held 355 different patents, dynamite was said to be his greatest, most famous and most profitable.

But that was nearly his undoing. For dynamite had been used heavily in wars and had caused many deaths. So, in 1888, when Ludvig the elder brother, died, many newspapers, mistaking him for Alfred, the inventor of dynamite, the cause of human calamity, went to town with their obituaries.

One particular French newspaper, wrote the obituary that eventually turned things around. The piece was entitled: “Le marchand de la mort est mort" (The merchant of death is dead). Nobel read the obituary and was appalled at the idea that he would be remembered as the merchant of death.

That was how the decision to institute the Nobel Prize came about. Alfred Nobel wanted to be remembered not as a merchant of death but a purveyor of peace. Till date, that legacy has been sustained.

This particular historic event, has always underscored, for me, man’s capacity to change the course of history through deliberately choosing good over evil. Had Alfred Nobel, not read his own obituary while he was alive, though it was actually not supposed to be his, but his brother, Ludvig’s, he would certainly not have been aware of what the world thought about his place in history and probably would have died with a damning memorial: The Merchant of Death!

More than that, Nobel was a man who cared about his reputation and where history would place him after a life of immense wealth and influence and took steps to ensure that it must be in a positive position.

Does this in any way resonate with the story of Abba Kyari, erstwhile Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari, who died on Friday, April 17, 2020? To me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe, Kyari, like Nobel, read his own obituary before he died, but unlike the inventor of the dynamite, who took steps to remedy his own records to ensure a positive place in history, Kyari’s reaction was quite different.

He either slept on that opportunity while he had the chance or didn’t think that it was important, or entertained himself with the seducing belief that Nigeria is a different terrain not inured of history, or that as is currently happening, he is dealing with a people who could easily twist such history, or he simply didn’t care one way or the other.

Interestingly, the media space has been taken over by many voices trying to fill the gap that was left open by the man himself, with eulogies, particularly since his burial on Saturday, the day after his death. The question, I have been battling to find the answer to, is why? Curiously, virtually every eulogy I have read so far, describing him in superlatives have incidentally, all come from his friends and those who claim to be close to him. No more. Don't ask me, whether this is all that is expected of a man of such high standing.

More interesting is that the authors of these materials claim that the man was aware of the other side of the narrative - the generous depiction of his character by Nigerians, as a bad man before he died and chose to do nothing about it. In fact the two from Waziri Adio the Executive Director of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Simon Kolawole, former Editor and now member of the Editorial Board of ThisDay Newspapers, present a particularly intriguing colouration.

Now, these two, who are among the A-list journalists Nigeria currently boasts of - excellent writers with large, cultic following in the media with strong platforms to sell any product in the country and beyond, claim they tried everything to convince the deceased to challenge the damning verdict by a groundswell of Nigerians about his person but hit a brickwall. This is aside the fact that Kyari himself was a journalist, who ought to know the implications.

Let us forget the attempt by Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose open attempt, both on Channels Television and in his tribute that has gone viral. In both instances, he tried to sell to the public the most picturesque character of the late CoS. After all, he had no media platform, even as a Minister to doing that earlier. It would even be strange for him to attempt such in the first place without any cause. He could be understood and forgiven for using the opportunity of his demise to depict his friend of 42 years in such superlatives. Never mind that the attempt appears like selling snow to the Eskimos.

But the question remains. Why did Kyari fail to confront Nigerians who assailed him with all manner of sordid stories and why did he vehemently oppose any attempts by his friends in the media to assist him, even if he didn’t wish to do it himself? Could it be that he was aware, being the wise and highly cerebral person he was depicted, that such attempt would lead to a further backlash capable of throwing up uglier, bleaker and darker issues surrounding his person and his work? Quite tempting and plausible, you may say!

For instance, in Kolawole’s attempt, he talked about the N500million MTN scandal and his friend's explanation that he was actually shut out of the group that made the final decision in Dubai. In other words he was never involved in the final deal. Surprisingly, he never mentioned the people involved, even to his most trusted friends. I wonder at this manner of friendship, where your supposed Man-Friday, would continue to keep you in the lurch on such critical issues. Just imagine! In order words, what we are supposed to decipher from here is that there is another power, another cabal, outside the ubiquitous cabal he was supposed to be heading in Aso Rock. How ingenious!

In essence, the aggregation of the case of Kyari’s friends going forward, is that the late CoS, ought to be the victim and not the aggressor. Nigerians are supposed to resort to their individual penitentiaries for penance for lynching an innocent man. That is the long and short of the story Kyari’s friends have been regaling their compatriots with these few past hours.

By these “revelations” of self-confessed friends to his piety and nobility they attempt to soothe or assuage the numberless lacerations Nigerians have suffered these past five years from the man they point at as their torturer. It doesn’t even matter to the purveyors of these latter-day narratives that some of the people pointing directly at the deceased are not mere fishmongers at the local Badagry or Uyo fish markets, but the very people who dipped their hands in the same Aso Rock soup plate with him.

Suddenly, we are supposed to forget the direct accusation of Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser (NSA) that Kyari, was sabotaging the war efforts against insurgents in the North East. We are supposed to ignore the indirect, but obvious finger-pointing of First Lady, Aisha Buhari about the odious and ruthless seizure and manipulation of her husband, which made her appeal in frustration directly to Nigerian men to rescue him and their nation. Suddenly, by the writing of a few friends all these are supposed to be a huge farce today and Abba Kyari, is supposed to now be the victim.

Yet, with the same mouth they depict him as swirling in a circle of hounds that had made him powerless, they seem to admit albeit unwittingly that the same Kyari is a power broker. If not, how could he have brought his friend, Onyeama, a hitherto nobody in Enugu politics and impose him on Buhari in exclusion of the likes of Onyemuche Nnamani, former Secretary to State Government (SSG), who practically bore all the financial scars of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state and even the South East to a great extent.

The same Adio, who would want the world to believe that Kyari was not culpable as charged because he didn’t have the powers ascribed to him, in another breath speaks of how he singularly brought him to the Villa and made sure he was appointed to his position. Perhaps, Kolawole would have been occupying his own position today, if he had not told the world that he abhorred political appointments.

Already, as it is wont in Nigerian affairs, those who have not joined in the strange celebration of the man they see as their tormentor in the last five years are now being depicted as haters. Their experience during the period does not matter any longer. That of course, is the same way anyone who criticises President Muhammadu Buhari is dismissed as a wailer or hater.

Speak no ill about the dead, others would advise. Perhaps the world should have rolled out the drums to celebrate Adolf Hitler after gassing six million Jews, because he is now dead. I expect the day Abubakar Shekau will finally meet his end one way or the other, people will send him home with cannon shots reserved for heroes, because they are enjoined never to speak ill of the dead.

Well, it may well be that Kyari didn’t have the powers to advise otherwise, when his principal decided to run his strange 97-5 per cent governance model, which ensured that certain parts of the country are particularly targetted for exclusion.

When Buhari appointed an all North heads of security agencies in Nigeria or ensure that all the juicy appointments went not only to the same North, but particularly to Muslims, Kyari was completely helpless.

He may not be guilty in the decision to cut off the entire South East from the railway connections, neither did he have a hand in ensuring that the area is cut off from the $30billion foreign loan legacy projects.

Let us all queue up and at the penitentiary and do our penance for ever raising our voices against this good man, who was pulled down by the main cabal, assisted by wicked, hateful and insensitive Nigerians.

Consider the fact that he was so powerless that his principal directed all political appointees including Ministers to go brief him first before attempting to see the face of the man who appointed them, so powerless that he would be the one seen as fit and proper to embark on that ill-fated German trip that ended it all. It doesn't matter that there is the Minister of power or experts in that field.

Let us exonerate him and ignore the role he ostensibly played in ensuring the exit of Oyo Ita as the Head of Service of the Federation (HoSoF), or even the sudden and unceremonious removal of Walter Onnoghen and agree that he had no hand in them, because he was a noble man that meant well for Nigeria and because he was too weak to be complicit in any of those outlandish events. Let us forget about the allegations of him being the unseen hand behind the monumental pillaging of the nation's commonwealth through the inglorious petroleum subsidy regime and even the employment scams at the highest of government places. Let's forget, lest we spoke ill of the dead.

Let us agree, as his friends want us to believe that his only sin was that he loved his master so much that he willingly offered himself as a sacrificial lamb to take all the bullets on his behalf and dismiss the talks that he actually became the defacto President as Nigerians thought.

But even if we were that magnanimous to accept these strange tales spurn by his friends because we do not see the unseen hands manipulating the events, what about the one that is obvious?
Are we to say that these same Nigerians who speak about this unique love and loyalty, to both his boss and the country, did not watch Buhari’s outing during the presidential debates and how he performed before Kaderia Ahmed? Are we to say that they also did not follow the President’s subsequent performance on the world scene when facing the international media. Do we exonerate him too for subjecting his man to such open ridicule? Is that the colour of love? If you were aware of the state of your principal as the world have seen, not by what you try to say, and still push the same person in that manner, does it translate to love of that man or the people he is supposed to lead or are you simply doing so for your own sake? Or should we say these his friends are equally proud of those outings too?

Let us not speak about the economy, because, we all must admit that it would take eons before the “mess” left by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is cleared.

Yes, let us clear him of everything else and agree that he is a noble man and a compatriot, who loves his country. But shouldn't we go further to interrogate how his love for Buhari has served the nation.

The danger, however, in accepting what Kyari's friends are trying to sell us is that there will never be villains anymore, no matter how brutal and no consequences for malfeasance any longer, because at any point, there would always be revisionists to defend even the worst of actions of leaders. What many who say no to this trend and insist on holding people accountable intend to achieve is not only to put history in its proper place, but to warn the living about what might befall them when their pages are opened, especially when they have no power to influence anything anymore.

Even at this period of the COVID-19 disease, when nobody is sure of who next would join Kyari, many Nigerians in positions of authority are still pillaging the commonwealth, stealing on a massive scale the money meant for the poor. Their goal of course would be  to continue to pile up their bank accounts, buy the latest automobiles and own more houses in all parts of the globe, the lessons of Kyari and the likes notwithstanding. Tomorrow their friends will turn around to twist history and paint them as saints.

I end with the the argument of Ikenna Emewu, a versatile journalist and public affairs commentator when he wrote on Facebook: “All I can say is that I don’t believe that Mr. Kyari loved Nigeria as projected now he is gone. Reason: Anyone that loves Nigeria that much as projected about Kyari, would have advised Buhari not to re-contest in 2019.” How about that? Need we say more?




Posted on April, 20 2020

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