President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, paid glowing tributes to his late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, who died on Friday night at the age of 67 following complications from the coronavirus disease. Kyari had tested positive for COVID-19 about three weeks ago and was receiving treatment at a private hospital in Lagos, before he succumbed to the virus.
He was buried yesterday at the Gudu Cemetery, Abuja, amid outpouring of tributes by Nigerians from all walks of life. Many acknowledged his invaluable role in the success of the Buhari administration and presidency.
In an emotional statement, Buhari praised Kyari for being a loyal friend and compatriot of 42 years, particularly acknowledging him as a crucial gatekeeper to the presidency, and “the very best of us”.
The statement personally signed by the President and titled, TO MY FRIEND, MALLAM ABBA KYARI, said, “Mallam Abba Kyari, who died on 17th April, 2020, at the age of 67 from complications caused by the coronavirus, was a true Nigerian patriot. My loyal friend and compatriot for the last 42 years – and latterly my Chief-of-Staff – he never wavered in his commitment to the betterment of every one of us.
“He was only in his twenties, when we first met. A diligent student, soon after he was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad – first at Warwick and then law at the University of Cambridge. But there was never any question Abba would bring his first-rate skills and newly acquired world-class knowledge back to Nigeria – which he did – immediately upon graduation.
“Whilst possessing the sharpest legal and organisational mind, 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. For he knew that without both in tandem there can never be the development of the respectful society and vibrant economy that all Nigerian citizens deserve.
“In political life, Abba never sought elective office for himself. Rather, he set himself against the view and conduct of two generations of Nigeria’s political establishment – who saw corruption as an entitlement and its practice a by-product of possessing political office.”
After becoming his Chief of Staff in 2015, Buhari said he strove quietly and without any interest in publicity or personal gain to implement his agenda.
He stated, “There are those who said of him that he must be secretive, because he did not have a high public profile. But Abba was the opposite: he simply had no need, nor did he seek the cheap gratification of the crowd; for him, there was nothing to be found in popular adulation. He secured instead satisfaction and his reward solely and only from the improvement of the governance of this great country.
“Working, without fail, seven days each and every week, he acted forcefully as a crucial gatekeeper to the presidency, ensuring no one – whether minister or governor had access beyond another – and that all those representing and serving our country were treated equally.
“He made clear in his person and his practice, always, that every Nigerian – regardless of faith, family, fortune or frailty – was heard and treated respectfully and the same.
“Mallam Abba Kyari was the very best of us. He was made of the stuff that makes Nigeria great.
“Rest In Peace, my dearest friend.”
Buhari added, “To his loving wife and doting family, who survive him, I extend my heartfelt sorrow at your loss.”
Another statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said, “On the sad occasion of the demise of Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, the president has directed on three things.
“First, that this tribute be issued in recognition of the enormous sacrifices and contributions made by the deceased to the success of his politics and administration, and to the overall development of the nation.
“Second, the president wishes to direct strict observance of the social distancing rules as prescribed by the National Centre for Disease Control, the Federal Ministry of Health; and other safe hygiene practices as advised by relevant local authorities.
“In this regard, the president will not be available for condolence visitors but urges, in place of that, prayers be offered for the repose of soul of the departed Chief of Staff.
“Third, the president wishes to convey his deep appreciation to foreign leaders and all Nigerians, from whom a stream of messages have been reaching him over this irreparable loss.”