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Issues In President Buhari’s Tribute To Abba Kyari

By Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije

No sooner did the news of the death and, later, the internment of Mallam Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, breakout, than it appeared that the president himself had taken the lead in what seems to be a tribute- race. Among politician and non- politicians alike, it seems (as the days pass by) that each of them is determined to outshine the other in an apparent attempt to impress, to employ the best and most suitable available English words in telling the sweetest and greatest stories ever unknown about the life and time of Mallam Abba Kyari. Incidentally, the same pattern those who were first to dish out their tributes in praise of Mallam Kyari adopted, appears largely to be more beautifully replicated by the new entrants into the tribute- race, all striving in their styles to whip up the most impactful emotions as well as attempting to make the greatest fuss about the personality, the diligence, the patriotism and the so-called workaholic deposition of the late Mallam.

In all these tributes, however, none seems to have spot-lighted or highlighted the other side of the fallen man – in order to underline the fact that he was not after all infallible. Rather, it would appear from the tributes offered thus far that late Mallam Abba Kyari lived a saintly life; that he lived a life not in any way tainted with selfishness or personal aggrandizement, all judging from the wordings and tones of tributes that have so far flooded the public space since the announcement of his demise. To a large extent, though, these eulogies being poured on late mallam Abba Kyari appear to be somewhat hypocritical, more so when viewed against the background of the fact that many of the people who are wont to posthumously put him in good light now as a perfect gentle man were even among people who created a series of impressions, be them right or wrong, that are currently being used to judge him and assess  his impact on the polity.

For President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tribute to his late friend is the focus of analysis for this piece, Mallam Abba Kyari did represent the best; the ideal, but now the unseen, model among those of them in the circle of power in Nigeria of today. According to Buhari, “Mallam Abba Kyari was the very best of us”. Whereas this perception holds water for the president, who confessed to have enjoyed long years of friendship with the deceased, not a handful of people are though inclined to object to his perception.

Indeed, to begin with, if Mallam Abba Kyari had been the actual mask behind the face of the relatively few rights and manifold wrongs that so far characterise the Buhari-led government, as is currently notorious  and deeply entrenched in the minds of many citizens, then this best of the Buharists was in fact a nightmare which many a true lover and sincere citizens of Nigeria will never in their lifetime wish to behold – even in their wildest dreams. In the same vein, if Mallam Abba Kyari could be adjudged the best of those in power in Nigeria of today by no less a person than the president of a supposedly sane country and, moreover, being that best under the reign of the most nepotic, satanic, insensitive, Islamic-minded, bigoted and most dishonest rulers ever to be experienced in leadership since the history of Nigeria, then there are more disturbing questions about the personality of this so-called best of the Buharists than meets the eye. Meanwhile, this is the so-called best of the Buharists who, without giving a tinker’s damn to public perception, made himself a board member of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as influenced the appointment of his biological daughter as the Assistant Vice- President of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), thus reducing the running of the country to purely a family affair. As it were, for this alone, this kind of man could not in a sane society be viewed as being reasonable and selfless, let alone being stupidly placed in the pantheon of the cream of the crop of a country.

What is more, the President also noted in his tribute that his late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, was “a Nigerian Patriot” and one who had more than a passing interest in the development of infrastructure and did always put up an assurance of security for the citizenry. In Mr. President’s words, “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”. As beautiful as these words of Mr. President are, it is totally a misnomer to refer to Abba Kyari as a patriot for some cogent reasons. First and foremost, the love a patriot has for his country is meant to transcend that of his own or any group interest. And so, viewed against this backdrop, what originally brought about Mallam Abba Kyari’s Journey to the grave which led him through Germany and, later, to Egypt in the course of which he probably contracted the Cvid-19 pandemic, cannot therefore qualify him as a patriot. This is short and simple. For, here, we are talking about a Junket which he selfishly embarked upon ostensibly in pursuit of the task of nation-building. Of significance, however, is the fact that Nigeria has a Minister and his team of experts statutorily saddled with such and other responsibilities which Mallam Abba Kyari apparently had cornered for himself in the guise of travelling to Germany to negotiate with a company (Siemens) on the prospect of achieving steady availability of electricity in Nigeria. Yet the President, Major-General Mahammadu Buhari, would want to have us all share in his purely personal belief that this power drunkard and (hi)Jack(er) of all trades was indeed a patriot; a great “lover” of his country who apparently had no regard for  the ideal of division of labor and honor for fellow office folders(?)

 The additional assertion by the President that Mallam Abba Kyari was passionate about the development of infrastructure in the country is yet another fallacy of the 21st Century. Certainly, the plain lies one beholds are far more valid and easy to defend than the invisible or potential truth one is deemed to have for others. Essentially, therefore, Mallam Abba Kyari could not have truly focused on the development of infrastructure in the country when, in actuality, under his overwhelming influence as the chief of staff to the President, a whopping sum of about 13 billion naira reportedly budgeted within a space of five years for the upliftment of the Aso Rock Presidential Clinic went down the drain, with no one or group of persons so far indicted for this inexplicable oddity. 

Also,  nothing is as outrageous as the claim by President Buhari that his late Chief of Staff was so particularly concerned about security for the “people of this nation he served so faithfully”, borrowing his exact words. Curiously, this is not just contentious but contextual. Aside from the fact that the National Security Adviser, retired Gen. Muhammed Babagana Mongonu, did reportedly accuse Mallam Abba Kyari at some point of undermining the war against terrorism, there is little or no doubt that the concept of “nation” as carefully employed by Mr. President in his tribute to his late friend is an oblique reference to Hausa-Fulani nation, and could not have been necessarily used in a broader sense to represent the multhi-ethnic Nigerian nation. To this end, therefore, the President is correct that Mallam Abba Kyari’s true focus was always to give assurance of security for the people of the nation he so committedly served – which invariably made it all possible for the Fulani herdsmen to have successfully and continually unleashed mayhem upon the indigenous people of Nigeria with impunity. Of course, if there were people in Nigeria who directly and/or indirectly savored sate assurance of security under any circumstance(s) through the extraordinary efforts of  Mallam Abba Kyari, and his ilk, one such group of people included the Fulani nation and its herdsmen. Hence it is understandable when President Muhammadu Buhari’s tribute to his late Chief of Staff talks about “this nation he served so faithfully”.

It is though not unexpected that President Muhammadu Buhari’s tribute to his late friend and Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, would be brimming with praises of immense proportion. And there is clearly nothing wrong with that. However, the greatest wrong in all of this remains the tissues of lies that are well embedded in the President’s tribute, and as already pointed out above.

Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, a Journalist, writes from Nsukka. You can reach him via 08130822962.

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