Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Fred Itua, Fred Ezeh and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Tony Osauzo, Benin, Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The Presidency has described the decision of security officials to bar attendees of the burial ceremony of the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, from the State House as “normal protocol.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated this in twitter handle @GarShehu: “There is nothing extraordinary about those of us who attend Abba Kyari’s funeral being advised to distance ourselves from the Villa. This is in line with the standard rules put in place by the National Centrer for Disease Control, @NCDCgov and the Federal Ministry of Health. You do these things to stop the spread of #Coronavirus. For the most part, the Villa has operated digitally in the last few weeks so there is really nothing new to this.”
He said those who attended the event were supposed to proceed on self-isolation immediately after the ceremonies.
In response to journalists who wanted the true picture of things, the presidential media aide said: “It is true. It’s nothing that anyone should be angry about. They were just obeying rules. We have all attended the burial of a close friend in this season, anyone will know that after such occasion, you are meant to proceed on self-isolation. So what happened was standard protocol.
“If you observed, we have mostly been working digitally, most of our works have been done digitally, in observance of the social distance advice,” he said.
Shehu was reacting to an online report that senior State House officials were denied access into the Villa after attending the burial ceremony, which included prayers on the corpse of Kyari at the Defence Guest House in Maitama and an interment at Gudu Cemetery.
The report had claimed key aides to President Muhammadu Buhari, who attended the burial, incurred the president’s displeasure for allegedly violating Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) regulations, especially social distancing.
Among those turned back from the State House were Chief Protocol Officer, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu, nephew to the president, Musa Haro Daura and Garba Shehu, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Ahmad Rufai, and Personal Assistant on New Media to President Buhari and Bashir Ahmed.
Kyari died Friday from COVID-19 in a Lagos hospital and was buried in Abuja on Saturday. His burial attracted criticisms from Nigerians who decried the zero observance of social distancing at his residence and burial site where there was a clear violation of NCDC regulation of not more than 20 to 50 people at event of that nature.
Edo, Enugu, Borno, Yobe govs mourn ex-CoS
Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, in a statement, said he received the news of the passing of Kyari with sadness, stating that his passing was a personal loss and he would be greatly missed.
“Having associated with Abba Kyari for over two decades, I found him to be a complete gentleman, very intellectual and a true Nigerian patriot. He was a forthright man, who was resolute in his conviction and loyal to any cause he believed in.
“I admire how he stood with President Muhammadu Buhari through thick and thin. I, therefore, express my personal condolences and that of Edo people to President Buhari, who we know will also miss Abba Kyari greatly.”
Obaseki also commiserated with the Kyari family, praying that God grants them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
The Enugu State Government has expressed condolences to President Buhari, on the death of his Chief of Staff.
In a statement by the SSG, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, it described the late Kyari as “a dedicated and loyal Chief of Staff, who discharged his duties with great commitment and selflessness.”
For Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum, Kyari was a humble and disciplined public servant.
Zulum, who joined other sympathisers on condolence visit to the Kyari’s family house at Old GRA Maiduguri, also said Kyari demonstrated consistency in character as a disciplined person at six different occasions of his official engagement with him as Buhari’s Chief of Staff.
“I have had six official appointments with him within the last 10 months and in all the six appointments, he scheduled to see me by 8am in his office at the villa and surprisingly, all the times, I was there before the time and there was never a time I did not meet him on seat. I never had to wait for him,” he said.
On his part, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe described Kyari as an astute administrator and great patriot.
“Abba Kyari will be remembered for his commitment to good governance, transparency, due process and patriotism,” the governor said in a statement.
Katsina Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, in a condolence message to President Buhari and Kyari’s family said: “With Abba Kyari’s demise, Nigeria has lost one of its finest citizens whose lifetime was devoted to service to the fatherland.”
The message by Masari’s spokesperson, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, said no amount of eulogy could quantify the value added by the deceased to the development of the nation, which cut across various facets of human endeavour, including banking, journalism and administration, at the highest levels.
How he fostered NASS- Buhari tie
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has described Kyari as a man who was greatly misunderstood by Nigerians.
He said the cordial relationship between the two chambers of the National Assembly and President Buhari was orchestrated by Kyari.
“Mallam Kyari leveraged his office and good standing with President Muhammadu Buhari to engender a cordial working relationship between the two elected arms.
“This he did with constructive passion, based on his great administrative skills, consummate understanding of governance and power relations, and eyes firmly fixed on the larger picture of the policy objectives and development agenda of his friend and principal. He did this until his last minute in service, until his death.”
UN, Ogah, others condole Buhari
Edward Kallon, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations System in Nigeria, in a letter of condolence to the President, said: ‘’Malam Abba Kyari’s dedication, patriotism, and service to your presidency and to Nigeria stood him out as a trustworthy aide and confidant. These qualities he exhibited to his last days, and I join you in taking solace in the fact that he passed away in the full service to this great nation.”
National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prof. Tunde Adediran, also penned a tribute to the late Chief of Staff, in a condolence message to President Buhari.
“The death of Malam Abba Kyari on active national service is a devastating blow to our dear country and undeniably a huge personal loss to you (President Buhari).”
The Nigerian Stock Exchange through its Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Onyema, also commiserated with the President, saying we join the good citizens of this country to offer our condolences to Your Excellency, as you mourn a patriot and close friend.”
Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, also described his death as shocking.
“In the course of working for Mr. President, I have had course to meet Mallam Kyari a number of times at close quarters. From his disposition and mien, you become aware that you were in the presence of a man who had unending capacity to achieve results.”
Monarchs, IPI, IPAC, AAC, Eze, Eze too
Royal fathers under the auspices of the National Association of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, in a statement after an emergency meeting in Owerri and signed by its National President, Eze Thomas Obiefule and secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, described Kyari’s death as unmitigated disaster.
The royal fathers condole with President Buhari and his family and noted that Kyari died at a time his service was needed most.
Also, the lnter Party Advisory Council (IPAC, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said Nigeria had lost a reliable member of President Buhari’s administration.
IPAC National Chairman, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, said the demise of Mallam Abba Kyari brought forcefully home the grimmer reality of COVID-19.
“We must do all possible to take responsibility of ensuring that Nigerians subscribe to personal hygiene, social distancing, regular hand washing, use of face masks, etc. Coronavirus is real…It is a wake up call for all Nigerians to rise up to fight the pandemic and obey government directives to contain its spread,” he said.
Similarly, the leadership and members of African Action Congress (AAC) said said Kyari was a man of enormous intellectual ability and political sagacity, adding that his death was a national tragedy.
Also, the International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and communication experts, commiserated with President Buhari.
“We mourn the loss of this statesman, an accomplished journalist, an astute public officer and a decent human being. We recall with nostalgia, the immense contribution of late Kyari to the successful hosting of the 2018 IPI World Congress in Abuja.” IPI said.
Chairman of Oranto Group of Companies, Prince Arthur Eze, in a statement by, Oliver Okpala, said the loyalty of the late Chief of Staff was outstanding.
The industrialist stated that he could testify that Kyari in his lifetime was loyal to President Buhari, the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and the country at large.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Sen. Ayogu Eze also described the late chief of staff as a “patriot, whose commitment to the Nigerian project was clear for all to see, including risking his life on the mission to make Nigeria great by improving power supply in the country, an undertaking that regrettably led to his death.”