President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari is a man many claims wields too much power in the Presidency. Amongst the President’s top allies, Kyari may not be the one with the most damning allegation hanging around him, but his name sure comes up in controversies more often than the others, just like the recent case where he was attacked by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno for meddling in national security issues.
The allegations which have stirred up a series of debates on social media concerning the powers that this Borno-State bred man has in the Presidential Villa. A legal luminary, banker and seasoned technocrats, Kyari always gets the ears of the President following years of association, but his frequent scandals have forced Nigerians to ask why the President is unable to part ways with him like he did when his former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal was caught in a controversial contract scam.
Below are some of the controversies that Kyari has been involved in:
Kyari Allegedly Receives Bribe from MTN
In 2016, following a fine Nigeria’s telecoms regulator, Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC placed on South African telecommunication giant, MTN, for failing to disconnect unregistered phone lines bought before January 2012, Kyari was accused of collecting N500million bribe from the company to reduce the fine from N.04 trillion to N330billion. The allegation was never proven to be true as even Kyari took the pain to demand that the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Police Force investigate him. He also charged MTN to confirm or deny the allegation since the company was specifically mentioned. MTN subsequently denied the report,
Kyari Heads ‘Cabal’ In The Villa
Since the inception of the Buhari administration, there has been the consistent talk of a certain cabal in Aso Rock that has been controlling the President like a puppet. One name that has been consistently linked with the said cabal has been that of Kyari. The talk of cabal dominated discussions, especially at the height of the President’s ill-health and medical vacation in London. According to reports, no decision is carried out until after the approval of the cabal.
Kyari Rift with First Lady, Aisha Buhari
Confirming the existence of a cabal, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari had in the early part of her husband’s administration talked about a group of people holding the Presidency hostage by dictating what happens in the Villa. The President’s wife is also said to not be in good terms with Kyari following the substitution of her preferred ministerial candidate from Adamawa State, Brigadier Buba Marwa (rtd) by the CoS. Kyari is alleged to have unilaterally constituted the ministerial nominee list with very little contribution from the President.
Kyari Blocked Kachikwu’s Access to Buhari
In 2017, then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu raised an alarm how Kyari and his men were blocking him from seeing the President over matters relating to the ministry her coordinated on behalf of the President. In 2019, Kachikwu failed to get reappointed in Buhari’s cabinet and some claim his fate was determined the moment he crossed the all-powerful CoS.
Kyari’s Appointment on NNPC Board
Many were shocked when President Buhari in July of 2016 named a new board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which included Kyari. Nigerians have never stopped wondering how the President’s CoS’ name made it to the list with many suspecting a case of nepotism.
Kyari’s Daughter’s Controversial Appointment in NSIA
Another moment of controversy that trails the CoS was the secret appointment of his daughter, Miss Aisha Abba Kyari, as an Assistant Vice President at the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The controversy around the appointment include the fact that the position was never publicly advertised and that Miss Kyari does not meet the criteria for the role and yet she got the appointment.
Kyari Allegedly Extorts Ex-DG of NIA
In 2018, a former Acting Director-General (DG) of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mohammed Dauda, levelled some grave corruption allegations against Kyari and others. Dauda detailed in a brief sent to the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence how Kyari along with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), kept pressuring him to share a certain $44billion that was cooling in NIA’s account. Dauda also claimed Kyari and Kingibe would ask him to hand over money for medical treatment or holiday trips abroad for their families and girlfriends.
Kyari Undermines Osinbajo’s Position
It has been alleged also, how Kyari has often capitalised on his closeness with the President to undermine the powers of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Foremost online news platform, Premium Times reported how Kyari influenced the President to discard Osinbajo’s request for approval for funds to continue his role in resolving the deadly farmers-herdsmen crisis. Kyari was said to approach the President with a similar proposal after rubbishing Osinbajo’s request before the President.
In September of 2019 when Buhari announced the scrapping of the Economic Management Team (EMT) which Osinbajo chaired and replaced with the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Kyari was fingered. And when the President sacked over 30 of Osinbajo’s aides, fingers pointed at Kyari again.
Kyari Meddles In National Security Matters
Recently, a memo leaked by Premium Times showed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno accusing Kyari of unwholesome and dangerous interference in national security matters. Mungono, among other things, accused Kyari of issuing directives to the Service Chiefs, sometimes without the knowledge and approval of the President. Kyari was also accused of hampering efforts to solve the problem of insecurity in the country with his meddlesomeness.
It is not clear what sort of hold Kyari has on the President that he always gets his attention and never seems to do any wrong in the President’s sight. Suspected to be the head of the alleged cabal running the Presidency, Kyari certainly has got many Nigerians on social media in the recent days insisting he may be the ‘real’ president of the country and Buhari acting as a figure head.