Life and Times of Mallam Abba Kyari (OON)
Chief of Staff to President Muhammad Buhari
Abba Kyari was born on 23rd September 1952, to a Kanuri family from Borno.
He was educated in St. Paul’s College in Wusasa and later considered joining the Nigerian Army following advice from Mamman Daura and Ibrahim Tahir.
In 1976, he met General Muhammadu Buhari who was then Governor of Borno State.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Warwick in 1980, and also obtained a law degree from the University of Cambridge.
Kyari was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983 after attending the Nigerian Law School.
In 1984, he obtained a Master’s Degree in law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in 1992 and 1994 participated in the Harvard Business School‘s Program for Leadership Development.
Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria.
From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited, Kaduna.
He also served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State in 1990s.
From 1990 to 1995, Abba Kyari was the secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Abba Kyari was an Executive Director in charge of Management Services at the United Bank for Africa, and was later appointed the Chief Executive Officer.
In year 2002, he was appointed a Board Director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the Board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.
Chief of Staff to the President
In August, year 2015, Mallam Abba Kyari was appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. He thus became an influential figure within the Buhari administration.
During the administration’s first term, he worked mainly behind the scenes to implement the president’s agenda.
In 2019 with Buhari’s re-election for a second term, he ordered his cabinet to channel all requests through Kyari’s office; further enhancing his influence within government circles, and being labeled as the de facto head of government.
In 2017, following a leaked memo, Kyari became embroiled in a public argument with the Head of Civil Service, who was later removed from office and arrested.
In 2020, in another leaked memo, Babagana Monguno the National Security Adviser accused Abba Kyari of meddling in matters of national security.
Mallam Abba Kyari was married to Hajiya Kulu Kyari; and had four children.
On 24 March 2020, it was made public that Mallam Abba Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 on 23 March, following an official trip to Germany nine days before.
There were reports that he had been flown out of the country for treatment, and Reuters later reported he had “a history of medical complications, including diabetes.”
On 29th March, 2020 in an official statement, Mallam Abba Kyari announced that he was being moved from isolation in Abuja to Lagos for “preventive treatment.”
He died on the evening of 17th April, 2020 at age 67 and was buried at Gudu Cemetery in Abuja on Saturday 18th April, 2020 in the presence of his family and friends.
However, it has been disclosed that late Abba Kyari died at a private “designated high care, biosecurity-compliant” hospital, known as First Cardiology Consultants in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.
He held the National honour in Nigeria, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).