Mamman Daura, a nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari, Friday described the late Abba Kyari as a very intelligent man who lived a very simple life and avoided flamboyance which many in his class were known for.
Daura, in a tribute to the president’s former chief of staff who died from COVID-19 complications last Friday, said Kyari would have been Nigeria’s number two citizen when the country returned to democracy in 1999.
According to him, Kyari was recommended as running mate to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled the country from 1999 to 2007.
He said: “These times coincided with the country’s return to democracy and Malam Abba was among those enthusiastically espousing the cause of General Obasanjo.
“On his selection as PDP candidate, a group of women and youths in the PDP lobbied Obasanjo to pick Malam Abba as his vice-presidential running mate. After heated debates, Obasanjo eventually picked Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“In 2003 elections, Malam Abba was in opposite camps with President Obasanjo. General Muhammadu Buhari had declared his intention the previous year to contest the presidency and Malam Abba joined his team and worked wholeheartedly in all the campaigns through the drudgery and injustices of the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections without losing hope or sight of the ultimate goal.”
He also praised Kyari’s intelligence, making the controversial statement that he was more intelligent that every member of Buhari’s cabinet.
He said, “In point of intellect, he stood above all Ministers and Special Advisers in this government”.
Daura added that the late Kyari stood firmly behind Buhari and his “perseverance paid off” in 2015 when Buhari won the presidential election.
“To his great surprise, the president appointed Malam Abba as the chief of staff. Fortified by the rigours of a Cambridge education and varied experience in banking, industry, investment, and journalism, Malam Abba set himself the task of defining the role, functions and status of the chief of staff. He started by consulting previous incumbents of the position he could reach as a way of educating himself on the challenges ahead of him.
“He lived a fairly simple life and habitually wore a red cap, white clothing, and black shoes. He had to be forced by his friends to change the cap and he wore the shoes to the ground before buying a new pair.
“Malam Abba Kyari was a man blessed with mountainous gifts and uncommon attributes of intelligence, diligence, hard work, loyalty to friends, and worthy causes.”
Duara, who was editor of the New Nigerian in the 70s, said Kyari had come to him with an offer to work in the newsroom.
“I first set eyes on Malam Abba about 47 years ago. I was at my desk at the New Nigerian newspapers office scribbling something or other when the gate messenger brought a sheet of paper with a name ‘Abba Kyari Chima’ wanting to see the editor.
“When he came in he looked winsome and slightly diffident. After pleasantries I wanted to know his reason for coming to New Nigerian. He said he read and liked an editorial in the paper a few days earlier headed: ‘Solution looking for a Problem’ and he resolved to work with us. After swift enquiry, I was told there were no vacancies in the newsroom nor in sub-editing. But a lowly position existed as a proof-reader as someone had just left.
“I was about to apologize to him that what was available was beneath his station. Malam Abba quickly said: ‘I will take it.’ After formalities he was enrolled as a staff of New Nigerian.
“By ‘taking it’ he was taking a sizeable cut from his previous teaching job’s pay as the salary scales in the New Nigerian where Malam Abba and I worked were historic in their frugality. You couldn’t get fat on the wages of the New Nigerian in the mid -70s.”
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