Between the old and new chief of staff

Ibrahim Agboola Gambari

Sir: Many Nigerians still hold the belief that the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, was the most powerful Chief of Staff Nigeria ever had, or in Nigerian history. He was said to be most powerful in the presidency. That was why his critics addressed him as a ‘‘de facto President.’’ He was the president according to them and President Muhammadu Buhari was just a figurehead or one impostor.

We mustn’t forget that it was Buhari who made Kyari the centre of attraction and bestowed on him the power he wielded. It was Buhari who said his ministers and other members of his cabinet should bring their files to him through Kyari’s table. Pressing issues got to Kyari before it did get to the President. And no doubt, some wouldn’t get to the President for reasons known to him. And that was how he garnered foes for himself.

While millions of Nigerian citizens were calling him names and bathing him with cusses over every problem Nigeria was faced with, politicians were also alleging him of filibustering developmental policies that were submitted on his table. Plus, he was allegedly involved in the MTN bribery scandal. Some of the members of his APC coterie also accused him of collecting bribes from other members so as to assent their ambitions. These and many more were the allegations levied against him.

However, despite these mind disturbing allegations, he didn’t construct a sentence to defend himself or meet the media to clear the air. He chose taciturn. He made everyone to believe that he did all that they said. This was what further worsens the definition of his person among the Nigerian populace; corrupt, sadist and bigot. Whatever that happened then, Kyari was the cause, be it politically and socially.

I remember a friend once fell on a bicycle and said it was the late Chief of Staff who caused it. When Kyari was announced dead of the novel coronavirus on April 17 at the age 67, his death attracted jubilations from many Nigerians who believed he was Nigerian de facto president and causal of the problems that befell Nigeria while he was in office. Even when they were told he died serving Nigerians, they still insisted he died for himself and his household. People who were close to him invested in tributes so as to change the narrations, still, the tributes died on arrival. I remember the President said he was the best of them. His daughter also wrote a lengthy tribute, all these tributes of a man who didn’t feed the public of who he was, were said to be fables. 

I want to felicitate with Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari on his appointment as the new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. Also, I want Prof. Gambari to take note of the Yoruba adage that says, ‘eni t’o jin si koto ko ara y’oku l’ogbon.’ Meaning, he who falls in a pit teaches others a lesson. Kyari’s reticent was what made him a pariah before and after his death. The keeping of his thoughts to himself was the reason why many Nigerians till today still hold the belief that he was the cause of the difficulties Nigeria faced while he was in office. His reticent was the reason why millions of Nigerians believed he was enmeshed in the alleged corruptions and the MTN bribery scandal. So, I think this is what Gambari should know so as to avoid falling in the same pit as the late Kyari.

Aremu Lukman Umor is a sociologist and writer.

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