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Who Was Abba Kyari? The Former Chief of Staff To President Buhari And First Influential Victim of Coronavirus

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The news of the demise of Mallam Abba Kyari has shaken the entire country. But who really was Abba Kyari?

The Presidency announced the passing of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari after he tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Unless you don’t live in Nigeria, that’s when you won’t know who Abba Kyari is. For starters, he was the Chief of Staff of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Basically, he is the liaison through the President and the agencies of Government. That means that it is through him the President communicates to the Government and vice versa.

in 2019, due to the increased absence of the President as a result of illness and medical visits, he was in charge of running the country. President Buhari even directed that all queries and requests be sent through him in his absence. So, for a while, he was the informal “President” of Nigeria.

Who is Abba Kyari

A Kanuri from Borno, not much is known about his early life. In 1980, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick, and also received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. In 1983, he was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School.

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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 participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994, respectively.


Kyari is married to the sister-in-law of Ibrahim Tahir, and has four children.

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Abba Kyari

On March 24, 2020, it was made public that Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23, following an official trip to Germany nine days before. It was also reported that Kyari has underlying medical conditions, and was secretly flown out of the country. He later rejected these claims, and was moved from Abuja to Lagos.. He died on Friday 17th April, 2020 as a result of the virus.

Coronavirus COVID-19Professional career

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. In 1990, he served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State.

From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the secretary to the board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International. 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 2002, he was appointed a board director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.

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Abba Kyari
Political career

In August 2015, Kyari was appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Power politics

Since his appointment, Kyari has become 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 labelled as the de facto head of government.

Photo Credit: Getty

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