Because I know Abba Kyari closely, and I’ve known him for well over 43 years, I find it most appalling when certain media say some things about him, especially regarding Aso Rock’s officialdom. I’m 43 and I’ve known Abba for 43 years because I grew up with Abba as my uncle, and a younger brother to my dad. He was that uncle that was always head-up in newspapers, down-out to the mosque for prayers; and I hardly ever recollect him eating aside sips upon sips of hot coffee all the time, no matter the time of day. I can say that Abba is truly the genial type because for him to have lived more than 2/3s of his entire life with late Talba, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir (my late father), and to have even married Talba’s wife’s younger sister — Abba stands out from the myriads of associates that I have known to enter and leave Talba’s vast human activity circle; simply because he stuck up the longest and the most peaceful. No drama, and nothing obscene, as he was that character around Talba that was obsequious and reserved — cool, calm, collected if you may.
I was encouraged to write again over Abba’s activity in government and the trail of accusations and slander that have somewhat reappeared to bedevil and taint his personality and image, in his first outing as a public figure. Abba was MD UBA Plc. back in 1995/6, and he was your quintessential Bank Executive that led one of the most prominent banks in the country, and indeed Africa at large. A product of Cambridge University from the early 80s, Uncle Abba was and still remains one of the brainiest and most knowledgeable Economist and Banker of his time. I was encouraged to write on him and his travails, by an article I saw on the opinion page of leadership newspapers of 20th February, titled, ‘Mallam Abba Kyari remains in his honor’, written by Ekpenyong O. Esq.
The writer had claimed that no one had ever written on Abba, or rather, no one had written in defense of Abba, which is an erroneous claim, even though I reckon that Mr. Ekpenyong was trying to say that — he knows inspite of all the slander and acrimony manufactured on blogosphere and pages of dailies, and even sound and video media waves, Abba would never initiate a media or face saving machinery, to protect him, or atleast even give his own side of the story, especially in the heat of the recent temperatures, generated by the ‘leak’ of a memo from the National Security Adviser, to the Service Chiefs. The leaked memo made reference to Abba Kyari, and his alleged meddlesomness, in the correspondence between PMB and the Service generals, either in person or in official documents.
So Mr. Ekpenyong, I put it to you that I have written on two different occasions over Kyari’s brouhaha with sponsored media attacks on his person. My first was titled, ‘No not Mallam Abba’ which was published on my blog tahirtalba.wordpress.com, on the 27th of October 2016, and I’d said that, ” It is not too surprising that politicians used to the way of previous governments will find Abba Kyari a bit square in their dealings with him and may not be happy with his insistence of things being done by the book, and the right way all the time. They might want to flout certain protocol and that may not sit well with the Abba Kyari I know. That may cause a lot of ill feeling towards the guy just doing his job”. This was during the mtn allegation brought against Kyari. His vindication I believe was in the axing of mtn and the arbitration that ordered them to repatriate 8 billions dollars back to the country and the negotiation that saw them enlist on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, NSE.
Subsequently, I wrote a sequel to my first piece on Kyari, which I again titled ‘No not Mallam Abba II’, which was published on The Dailytrust newspaper, on the 13th of September, 2018. In it I had said, and I quote, “For the Chief of Staff to Mr. President to go as low and as condescending as collecting 29 million Naira from a helpless cousin of his frankly torments my imagination. The principled Abba Kyari? No way I ranted! As his nephew, I know not to approach him for favors even with the powers that his office wields, knowing fully well that he would shy away from granting any for fear of being nepotic. Infact since Uncle Abba became the Chief of Staff, I have run into him once at The International Conference Centre, in the company of Mallam Mamman Daura, whilst I was the Senior Special Assistant on Scheduling to Gov. MA Abubakar Esq. of Bauchi — and as far as Uncle Abba was concerned, I was gainfully employed and thus needed no assistance whatsoever and I courageously embraced that standing”.
The job description of the COS is only as directed by the President, and just at the beginning of this renewed tenure of PMB, he had alloted a lot to Mallam Abba. In my opinion, Mr. Monguno has to contend with Mallam Abba, inadvertently, as even the private or confidential memos he writes to Mr. President do go under the scrutiny of Mallam Abba. The 19th Sarkin Gwandu, Emir Jokolo, who is also a former military boss, while lamenting the sad development where the NSA had written to the Service Chiefs, asking them to circumvent Mr. President’s right hand man or as I’d prefer; other hand, as Chief of Staff, queried that the two had no basis or reason to have a fracas, especially that they were both from Borno, the theater of the Boko boys, where a genocide is taking place. The most expected with be an unprecedented synergy, in addition to a Chief of Army, that hails from… yes!
The NSA is a member of the National Security Council which is constitutionally empowered to advise Mr. President on security matters. It is perhaps over-reaching for the NSA to determine the COS’s level of involvement with the President’s office as it relates to security. All his grievances ought to have been shared with the C-in-C whenever he gets the opportunity to, as Baba had categorically emphasised to his cabinet, at their swearing-in; that Mallam Abba and the SGF, are their go to aides or officials, as far as correspondence and appointments were concerned. A silent NSA role or office has been a blessing in this administration, as opposed to the previous one where 2 billion dollars was disbursed from that office, to politicians, instead of procurement for the military as officially stated for the funds. 6 years running, had PMB lost patience or trust in Mallam Abba, he certainly would have bade him farewell long ago. For now, the geeky Abba is PMB’s no 1. Chrome, Webster, and engine room. It is difficult to believe that Mallam Abba will act alone, without the consent and approval of his principal in his dealings with the Service Chiefs. The Boko war has raged on before Abba came on board and so removing him will not end the war instantaneously, would it? Tahir is Talban Bauchi