•He Is ABBA KYARI
Who is the most powerful man in Pres. Buhari’s cabinet? Can you take a guess? Well, we can tell you. He is Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the President Muhammadu Buhari. He was appointed to the position on 27 August 2015, and re-appointed on May 29, 2019.
To describe him as the most powerful man in President Buhari’s government would not be outrageous as he is in charge of President Buhari’s itinerary on a daily basis. So powerful and influential is he that he plans the President’s day-to-day movement and decides who the President sees and who he does not see.
Even all the Ministers and governors know that they must have a warm relationship with him for them to get the ears of the President. Recall that recently the President instructed that henceforth all Ministers must pass through Kyari for them to see him.
By virtue of his position, he has no choice than to be the closest to the President among members of the kitchen cabinet. His powerful position was well spelt out a few months ago when the President directed the incoming ministers to channel all requests for meetings with him through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, a directive he gave at the end of a presidential retreat for ministers-designate, presidential aides and other top government functionaries at the State House in Abuja.
“In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF),” Buhari said.The directive has generated a lot of mixed feelings among Nigerians but in a statement by Garba Shehu, spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari, he addressed the issue and also shared the presidency’s reaction on the directive.
“It is worth stressing that the role and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff and the method of communication and arranging to schedule meeting between Cabinet members and the President are, in Nigeria, based on the US model, where the same system operates – and has done for decades – in precisely the same way.”That role is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock; to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters; to be the line manager for all members of staff at Aso Rock, and to manage appointments and scheduling for the President.”In the traditional presidential system, it is a primary function of a Chief of Staff, which may vary according to the needs and desires of each President, to supervise key State House Staffers, control access to the office and the person of the President, manage communications and information flow and this includes that which binds the relationship with the two other arms of government.
The office of Chief of Staff is not of Cabinet rank, the holder of the office wields no executive power, controls no ministry and or department of government. He is an extension of the office of the president, playing managerial and advisory roles such as selection and coordination of key staffers, control of people who come to see the President and protecting the interest of the President or any other responsibilities that is entrusted to him by his principal. To demonstrate that he is subordinate to the president, the Constitution does not require that he is screened and confirmed by the Senate’’.
Essentially, the operations of the Presidency rest on the shoulders of the Chief of Staff. The occupant of this position should be the force driving strategy, performance and good governance in Nigeria. Even though the office of the Chief of Staff to the President has been in existence since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, the nation has made unrelenting efforts to have a unifying and visionary individual man the position. So primarily, the job responsibilities of the chief of staff make him being placed in a strategic position where no one can see the president except you go through him. Abba Kyari enjoys a cordial and longtime friendship with President Buhari. When Buhari nominated members of the NNPC Board, his influential chief of staff, Abba Kyari, was nominated to the board.
Abba Kyari obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of Warwick, England, in 1980. He also holds 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 obtained a Masters’ Degree in Law from his alma-mater, the University of Cambridge. Between 1988 and 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna, (publishers of Democrat Newspapers). 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 Programme 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.He served as Honorary Member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Investment in Nigeria between 2000 and 2005. He is a recipient of the Nigerian National Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).
TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI
With additional from Vanguard