Abba Kyari: How Not To Die! By Ozodinukwe Okenwa

The COVID-19 pandemic just claimed a very important personality in Nigeria, by name, Mallam Abba Kyari, the omnipotent Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. Last saturday morning Femi Adesina, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had announced his demise. By claiming the sinful soul of Kyari Coronavirus has proven to be an ultimate leveller with no discrimination over class or status. It torments both the rich and poor. And punishes the just and unjust.

Having died from complications associated with Coronavirus in a specialist hospital in Lagos last weekend Kyari was flown back to Abuja and buried quickly according to Islamic rites! President Buhari did not attend the burial for ‘Coro’ reasons. Most of the VIPs equally shunned the last respect shown to a man of such calibre. Everyone was afraid that attending the burial could expose them to the deadly scourge.

The COVID-19 global epidemic continues to take permanently out great men and nonenties posing a great challenge to science and governments. Now with CoS Kyari down and out Nigeria has recorded another national tragedy years after ex-President Umaru Yar’Adua kicked the bucket and before him the maximum ruler and kleptocrat, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Until his death Kyari made name for himself for bad reasons of power abuse and covetousness. He was one of the most influential and powerful figures in President Buhari’s fledgling administration. The journey of no return to the great beyond embarked upon by the controversial almighty CoS to Buhari demonstrates the mortality of man, the vanity of our existence and the folly of grandeur.

Mallam Kyari, to be fair to him post-humously, was a well-read and travelled man. He was a lawyer, editor, banker, politician and administrator. Kyari’s past could be said to be solid enough to warrant his appointment as Buhari’s most infuential Chief of Staff. But soon enough he became synonymous with everything wrong with the Buhari regime. He became a master of political subterfuge.

Perhaps two personalities could have ‘rejoiced’ behind closed doors upon hearing the news of Kyari’s demise. The President’s wife, Aisha, had been lamenting the hijacking of Buhari’s presidency by an unelected cabal led by the man who is now history. And the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, who earlier this year had written a strongly-worded memo accusing Kyari of usurping power and warning security chiefs, ambassadors and others against meeting him or taking directives from him.

Kyari thus joined his ancestors to the muted relief of many Nigerians who saw him as a glorified ‘gang’ leader in Aso Rock. The number of gerontocrats that made up the Aso Villa cabal (Kingibe, Daura etc) has diminished by one. Yet the fear in certain quarters is what comes post-Kyari. Would there be chaos as he had predicted? Would his shoes be too big for anyone else to fill in? How could Buhari succeed and survive without Kyari whom he trusted blindly to the point of ceding power to him?

Mallam Abba Kyari could be said to have ‘killed’ himself indirectly, if not irresponsibly! Yes, he committed ‘suicide’ wittingly or unwittingly by undertaking a reckless trip to Germany and Egypt when Coronavirus was already wrecking havoc in those countries. Upon his return home he went about performing ignorantly his delegated presidential duties by hosting VIPs and contaminated a good number of them in the process! 

Instead of self-isolating in deference to the official directive to that effect he went about hosting high-profile meetings, attending official functions and events — even outside Abuja. In the end when the ugly news went round that he had tested positive to the pandemic three of his aides had contracted the highly-contagious disease apart from the ‘very important parasites’ (including the National Chairman of the ruling APC party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) he met and issued directives.

Coronavirus is treatable and curable but not all the human body systems could withstand its onslaught (especially those nearing their graves). The executive Governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde, had reportedly contracted COVID-19 and subsequently ‘quarantined’ himself for weeks. Now he has bounced back to sound health having recovered fully from the Corona attack. Another Governor from the north equally tested positive to the pandemic but now healed.

Far away from home in the West African country of Guinea the Minister/Secretary-General of Government, Sekou Kourouma, died recently from Coronavirus infection. Before him the President of the National Electoral Commission, Salif Kebe, and the former Director of Interpol Guinea, Victor Traore, died from the COVID-19 complications.

The Ivorian Defense Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, had caught the ‘bug’ but now he is free from same! The Secretary to the Ivorian presidency, Patrick Achi, shocked Ivorians recently when he announced on Twitter that he is a victim of Coronavirus and that he is ‘going in’ for treatment. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is still recuperating from the Corona invasion of his physiology.

Now that Abba Kyari is dead and buried his date with the grim reaper demonstrated yet again that we are ‘strangers’ in this vast garden, earth, we know better. His timely demise is akin to how a man should not die and how abuse of power could lead to such eventuality playing itself out.

As I perused the news online last weekend the general sentiment of our compatriots online was that COVID-19 did very well by acting decisively. One blogger put it succinctly: ” Thank you COVID-19 for a job well done!”

Majority of Nigerians may not mourn Mallam Kyari because of his unpatriotism, cupidity and filthy politics. His ouster from the presidential scene could liberate the political space and ‘free’ the ‘lifeless’ Daura man Nigerians elected to provide leadership. Enough of the surrogate presidency, please!

SOC Okenwa

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