GUEST Column by ABDULLAHI MOHAMMED
By Abdullahi Mohammed
The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari, has become the proverbial cat with nine lives. This assertion can be gleaned from the recent rumour mill triggered by the social media to the effect that the CoS, who is recovering from COVID-19 infection, had died or that he had been sacked by the President.
This unsavoury trend is not only callous but also wicked and inhuman. How any rational being would wish anyone, much more a leader of high repute, dead, is quite satanic, to say the least. The outright fake news, indeed, raises the question, “where is our humanity?”
It is instructive to note that Abba Kyari, as the Chief of Staff to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, bears much of the burden of governing the country; a duty he has discharged with utmost zeal, high sense of patriotism, commitment and dedication.
And it bears emphasising that it was in the course of discharging this duty that the man who is being described as the engine room of the Buhari government as well as a trusted and dependable aide of Mr President, contracted the coronavirus.
Kyari had embarked on official trips to Germany and the United Kingdom in the effort to solve some of Nigeria’s teething socio-economic problems, oblivious of the COVID-19 since these countries were not designated high risks areas. How then could the CoS be seen as having committed any ‘sin?’
It is, however, not unexpected that Abba Kyari would have stepped on some powerful toes given his strategic role in Nigeria’s governance architecture and his unflinching loyalty to President Buhari. The thinking is that in line with his boss’ anti-corruption stance, he has been blocking loopholes and leakages through which public funds are being stolen. This, understandably, will make him unpopular, given the thieving nature of civil servants and public office holders in the country.
Kyari, a legal luminary, banker and seasoned technocrat, is a man who believes in honesty, integrity and justice. Out of unwavering courage, the CoS has deliberately fought the bad political parasites bent on truncating the fight against corruption and insecurity. He has been maligned without facts because his traducers are desperate to scandalise and push him out so that they will have their way in committing crimes against the Nigerian state.
Transparency among Nigerians is the number one policy of President Buhari, and Kyari as the gatekeeper in the seat of power has been doing his utmost best to promote and ensure the policies of government succeed. It has been discovered that the Kyari style of loyalty to the president is the best Nigeria needs now.
Series of information have been falsified in order to build negative press against Kyari. The ultimate aim is to tarnish his proven loyalty to the president. It is, therefore, crystal clear that the falsehood on Kyari are done by detractors whose mission is to pull him down at all cost. Their angst is that they cannot fit into Abba Kyari’s administrative ideology.
Given the template of global best practice, it is evident in Kyari’s service to his boss, Nigerians and humanity generally that he is among the best chiefs of staff in the world. The idea is that what that office entails is absolute loyalty to the president whose biddings the chief of staff is hired to do.
Three qualities that have helped Kyari in the discharge of his duties excellently are that he is highly trustworthy and able to build trust with others in his position as a gatekeeper to President Buhari.
Trust is hard earned and easily lost. Trust is built by doing what you say and saying what you do. Trust is the chief of staff being the “steady rudder” in a sea of chaos. The CoS as a trust builder is able to convey in a positive and assuring manner the president’s position/action at any given moment. The most important trust is between the CoS and the president. In fact, that trust-relationship must be so strong that it is known throughout the country.
Another key quality that stands Kyari out is judgment. It is key to a successful CoS appointment. Much of the work of the CoS involves independently working the gap between the president and the entire citizenry of the country. Given the speed of leadership and management in Nigeria today, there would be moments that the CoS will have to make a decision and act with utmost overriding interest in mind.
Again, the most important of Kyari’s attributes that makes him succeed as the chief of staff is ‘disposition.’ Disposition is the most crucial and challenging quality, in that the CoS often speaks for the president even though he is not the president. The chief of staff is like an extension of the president. The CoS is working on behalf of the president. Therefore, the CoS must have an extraordinary understanding of the president, so that talking and working with the CoS is an effective extension of working with the president.
Kyari has been able to provide a buffer between President Buhari and the presidential reporting system. The chief of staff generally works behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes, and deal with issues before they are brought to the chief executive of the country. Often, chiefs of staff act as a most reliable confidante and advisor to the president, acting as a sounding board for ideas. Ultimately the actual duties depend on the position and the people involved.
These features of some of the roles and responsibilities of a chief of staff to the president clearly indicate that it is a position expected to be occupied by a unique personality, who is flexible, well versed and an expert in local and international relations. All these, Kyari has been able to apply to keep the Buhari presidency going.
Given his pivotal role at ensuring that the Buhari government delivers on its electoral promises in providing the dividends of democracy to Nigerians, Abba Kyari should be seen as a hero rather than a villain. Nigerians should pray for the CoS, who is already recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Kyari truly means well for Nigeria and Nigerians and in sha Allah he will soon return to his duty post to accomplish his good works for the Nigerian people.
Mohammed writes from Kaduna.