What you may not know about late Abba Kyari

Mallam Abba Kyari
Mallam Abba Kyari


The demise of late Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari dropped like a shock to many early Saturday after his demise was confirmed by the Presidency.



Though a short press release by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media didn’t explain details regarding Kyari’s death, it was in public notice some three weeks ago when he was diagnosed of the deadly Coronavirus in Abuja.


Days later, he was flown out of the nation’s capital to Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre Lagos.

His life and times

Abba Kyari, Kanuri from Borno, who died on 17 April 2020 was a Nigerian politician and former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.


In 1980, according to different biographical information on him (aggregated by Wikipedia), 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.



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


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. The federal government announced that he would be buried almost immediately.

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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.


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


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.



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 Kyari of meddling in matters of national security.’

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