The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has opened up on the personality of Mallam Abba Kyari, late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that the late Chief of Staff had been the architect behind most of the significant projects of the Buhari administration, but added that Kyari had his weakness just like everyone else.
Adesina also recalled his last encounter with the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.
Adesina in a tribute he signed on Friday night, suggested that most of Abba Kyari’s sins were forgiven simply because he loved President Buhari.
“Mallam Abba headed the bureaucracy of the Presidential Villa, and we constantly had things to do together. Almost daily. He had his strengths, and his weaknesses. We all do,” Adesina said.
“But my greatest plus for him was his loyalty to our principal. It was never in doubt. And for me, if you love Buhari, all your sins are forgiven. If they are like scarlet, they become white as snow. If they are red like crimson, they become white as wool. That is me, no apologies.
“I have read majority of the things written about Kyari. Positive and negative. I love the balanced one by Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola: ‘I bear testimony to his dedicated execution of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) initiative, which guaranteed funds to cash-strapped projects like the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Highway, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambilla Hydro Project, and the East-West Road…
“’Like all of us, Abba was flawed but he was not conceited. We disagreed but I never found Abba disagreeable.’
“Infrastructure would be one of the strongest achievements of the Buhari government by the time it exits in 2023. There’s no way those great projects would be counted, without the name of Kyari being mentioned. Or the rice and fertilizer revolution, and agriculture generally.
“He was the moving force behind most of them, translating the vision of the President into action. The good he did will live after him. The weaknesses have been interred with his bones.
“Some people, particularly on social media, have rejoiced about the passage of the Chief of Staff. They are of all men most miserable. Really to be pitied.
“Those gloating are mere mortals. We all have our different appointments with death. May it only be in the fullness of time is our prayer. But nobody has control over it.
“I also point those misguided minds to the Good Book, in Psalms 62:9: ‘Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie. In the balances they will go up; they are together lighter than vanity.’
“Rejoice not at any man’s death, because all men, whether of low or high degree, are vanity and a lie.
“Abba Kyari sleeps, till the great day of awakening, after what Shakespeare calls ‘life’s fitful fever.’ He contracted the deadly virus on an official trip abroad. So, he died in the line of duty. He has done his own. You too, do your own. For God, for country, and for humanity.”
Abba Kyari died of complications from the deadly coronavirus a week ago and was buried in Abuja on Saturday.
Apart from seeing the late Chief of Staff in an usual manner in his dream later on, Adesina recounted moments of their last physical meeting before he (Kyari) was diagnosed of COVID-19.
Adesina said, “Our last contact was on Friday, March 20, 2020.
“President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to meet with the Chairman of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, by 3 p.m. Such meetings hold in the diplomatic room of the presidential office complex.
“The protocol is that aides invited to attend any meeting must be seated 15 clear minutes before the President walked in. I was in the diplomatic room at the required time. A seat had been designated for me, next to that of the Chief of Staff.
“Few minutes later, Mallam Abba (as he was often called by us) walked in. I rose to greet him.
“’Femi, how are you? They have said we should not shake hands again,’ he responded. Rather jocularly, he extended his right foot. I touched his foot with my own, and we both laughed. Leg-shake, instead of handshake.
“The ECOWAS Commission boss had come to discuss the ensuing constitutional crisis in Guinea Conakry, which was to hold election that weekend.
“After 10 years in office, and at 82 years of age, President Alpha Conde, had insisted on running for another term in office, and he tinkered with the country’s Constitution to make himself eligible. The opposition was having none of it, and there was civil disobedience, in which some lives had been lost.
“President Buhari is the immediate past Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, and a highly respected figure in the sub-region. The ECOWAS Commission boss had come to consult him on the way forward for Guinea Conakry.
“The meeting lasted for about 30 minutes, during which the situation in Guinea-Bissau had also come up briefly.
“When we rose, I had my opinion on what to do about the matters discussed. I consulted with Mallam Abba, and he agreed completely with me. I took my leave, headed back to my office.
“Walking right behind me was the Chief of Staff, flanked by Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, and my colleague in the media office, Mallam Garba Shehu. They were chatting.
“After I passed through the security screening point that would see me turn off to my office, I looked back instinctively. Why did I do it? I didn’t know, still don’t know. But it turned out to be my last view of Kyari. He was laughing as he talked with the two people beside him.
“That glance I took turned out to be the very final. About 72 hours later, Mallam Abba was diagnosed with the deadly Coronavirus, which sent him sadly on a journey of no return.
‘Catching COVID-19 (as the inelegant virus has been elegantly codenamed by World Health Organization) is not supposed to be a death sentence. I had no doubt that Mallam Abba would beat the infection, and be back at his desk soon, as he had promised. I prayed for him a number of times in the following three weeks.
“On Tuesday, April 15, the President was billed to receive a delegation from the European Union by noon. As I walked into the Presidential Villa, I met a personal staff of the Chief of Staff.”