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All you need to know about Abba Kyari – the Kanuri man from Borno who served as Buhari’s Gatekeeper

Late Mallam Abba Kyari was born in 1938, and had generally been in poor health. He was first appointed chief of staff to a Nigerian president in 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari came to power. He was reappointed last year after his principal won reelection.

News broke in the early hours of Saturday 18th April that President Muhammadu’s Chief of Staff has died. Abba Kyari before his demise was chief of staff to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and a very prominent and influential member of the cabinet and administration.

Unlike President Buhari, who identifies as a Hausa-speaking Fulan, Kyari was Kanuri from Borno, the state most afflicted by the radical, Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. Presumably, his first language is Kanuri, and his English excellent.  According to Newswire Nigeria, Kyari was the gatekeeper to the president, who had ordered that all cabinet requests come through Kyari to him.

On 24th of March 2020, Abba Kyari tested positive to COVID-19 after he returned from an official trip to Germany. Mallam Kyari had travelled to Germany on March 7 to meet with officials of Siemens AG in pursuit of the deal dubbed the siemens deal recently signed between the Nigerian government and the energy company and returned about a week later. He is suspected to have contracted the disease while there.  The chief of staff, was in Europe alongside the power minister, Saleh Mamman, returned to the country on March 14.

However, his death has come as a shock to many Nigerians while a handful of them seem to be oblivious of a man whose death could be announced by the Presidency.

TheInfoNG has hereby brought you the biography of the renowned Islam Scholar, Mallam Abba Kyari who has also had extensive schooling in Europe and the United States, including at the University of Warwick, Cambridge University, the Institute of Management in Lausanne, Switzerland, and at Harvard. He is trained as a lawyer, and had a successful career as a banker.

Abba Kyari obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of Warwick, England, in 1980. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge, England and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983. In 1984, he then proceeded to obtain a Masters’ Degree in Law from his alma-mater, the University of Cambridge.

He went on to become Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna, (publishers of Democrat Newspapers). for two years (1988-1990). Abba Kyari’s political journey began when he served with the Borno State Executive Council as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in 1990 and was Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited, between 1990 and 1995.

He attended the International Institute for Management Development at Lausanne, Switzerland, and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994 respectively.

Abba Kyari was Executive Director, Management Services, United Bank for Africa Plc. (UBA) and later the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. in 2002.

During the latter part of his life, he served as Honorary Member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Investment in Nigeria during the Obasanjo-led administration between 2000 and 2005. He was a recipient of the Nigerian Honor Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).

The Nigerian President issued the following statement early Saturday announcing the demise of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.


The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.

The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.

May God accept his soul.

Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)

April 18, 2020




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