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An empty seat for Koleade Adeniji Abayomi, SAN; OON (3)

CNN reported as breaking news the death of Alhaji Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Commander-In-Chief Armed Forces of Nigeria as follows (quoting the official statement from the Presidency):

“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. Becoming my Chief of Staff in 2015, he strove quietly and without any interest in publicity or personal gain to implement my agenda.

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.” President Muhammadu Buhari

Abba Kyari was a student of Kole Abayomi at the Nigerian Law School before he joined a leading Law firm – Fani-Kayode, Sowemimo and Co. Sadly, the very powerful seat occupied by Abba in the inner sanctum of the Presidency is also vacant now.

Verdict on Abba Kyari:

“He blew it.

May his soul rest in peace.”

Perhaps we should add as an addendum:

“Abba Kyari, the man they loved to hate.” – M.C. Mohammed.

It is now left to his friends and well-wishers to write his elegy/epitaph along with an appropriate edifice to immortalise his name – in education, health, infrastructure or public service.

It appears Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Union which recently donated ₦21 billion to Nigeria as its contribution towards curtailing the Coronavirus has raised the red flag:

“How come there’s no single(!!) woman on the shortlist of candidates to replace Mallam Abba Kyari? In this day and age, it shouldn’t matter whether she’s single or married. At the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde was just been replaced by Kristalina Georgieva as the Chairwoman and Managing Director. Until recently, Mrs. Theresa May was Prime Minister of Britain. In Germany, Angela Merkel has been ruling the roost for over fourteen years. Here are some other women who are Heads of Government/Prime Ministers – Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore;

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan; Sanna Marin (The World’s Youngest PM at 34 years of age), Prime Minister of Finland among others. As for being Chief of Staff, there are several women who have held (or are holding) that position in both the public sector and private sector.”

In the meantime, social media is awash with speculation that such a powerful position (Chief of Staff) should be subjected to due process – even to the extent of considering outstanding candidates from wherever. Rumour has it that both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are rooting for Ms. Melaine Richards, KPMG’s UK’s most senior female partner and deputy chairman. Her resume is most intimidating. She is not coy about her age – fifty-five years.

Abba Kyari was a student of Kole Abayomi at the Nigerian Law School before he joined a leading Law firm – Fani-Kayode, Sowemimo and Co.

According to Bill Michael, Chairman of KPMG UK (on CNN):

“Melaine is relentless in her campaigning for equality in the workplace and is an inspirational leader, both within our firm and across UK business as a whole. Wherever she chooses to go next, they will be lucky to have her broad array of skills, experience, energy and counsel – which have been invaluable to me as chairman. She comes highly recommended.”

However, she will not be available until September 2020. The inimitable Richard Quest has been quick to point out that when Britain was searching for a suitable replacement for Mervyn King as the Governor of the Bank of England in 2013, Mark Carney, a Canadian got the job.


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