Abba Kyari

Abba Kyari OON (23 September 1952 – 17 April 2020)[2] was a Nigerian lawyer[3] who served as Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria from August 2015 to April 2020.

Abba Kyari

Chief of Staff to the President
In office
27 August 2015 – 17 April 2020
PresidentMuhammadu Buhari
Preceded byJones Arogbofa
Succeeded byIbrahim Gambari
Personal details
Born(1952-09-23)September 23, 1952
Borno, Northern Region,
British Nigeria
(now Borno State, Nigeria)
Died17 April 2020(2020-04-17) (aged 67)
Lagos, Nigeria
Spouse(s)Hajiya Kulu Kyari
Alma materUniversity of Warwick
University of Cambridge
Nigerian Law School
International Institute for Management Development
ProfessionLawyer and banker[1]
AwardsOrder of the Niger

Early lifeEdit

Kyari was born on 23 September 1952, to a Kanuri family from Borno. He was educated in St. Paul's College in Wusasa Zaria, and later considered joining the Nigerian Army following advice from Mamman Daura and Ibrahim Tahir.[4] In 1976, he met General Muhammadu Buhari who was then Governor of Borno State.[5]


He graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Warwick in 1980, and also obtained a law degree from the University of Cambridge.[6] Kyari was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983 after attending the Nigerian Law School.[7] In 1984, he obtained a master's degree in law from the University of Cambridge.[8] He later attended the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland,[9] and in 1992 and 1994 participated in the Harvard Business School's Program for Leadership Development.[10]


Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria.[11]

From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna. He also served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State in the 1990s.[12]

From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the secretary to the board of the African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International.[12]

Kyari was an executive director in charge of management services at the United Bank for Africa, and was later appointed the chief executive officer. In 2002, he was appointed a board director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.[10]

Chief of Staff to the PresidentEdit

In August 2015, Kyari was appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.[13][14] As chief of staff, he was widely considered to be the face of the "cabal" and the most powerful person in the Buhari administration.[15][16]

During the administration's first term, he worked mainly behind the scenes to implement the president's agenda.[17] In 2019 with Buhari's re-election for a second term, he ordered his cabinet to channel all requests through Kyari's office[18] — further enhancing his influence within government circles, and being labelled as the de facto head of government.[19]

In 2017, following a leaked memo, Kyari became embroiled in a public argument with the Head of Civil Service,[20] who was later removed from office and arrested.[21][22] In 2020, in another leaked memo, Babagana Monguno the National Security Adviser accused Kyari of meddling in matters of national security.[23]


Kyari was married to the sister-in-law of Ibrahim Tahir,[24] and had four children, Aisha, Nurudeen, Ibrahim, Zainab.[25][4]


On 24 March 2020, it was made public that Kyari tested positive for COVID-19, following an official trip to Germany nine days before.[26] There were reports that he had been flown out of the country for treatment,[27] and Reuters later reported he had "a history of medical complications, including diabetes".[28]

On 29 March 2020, Kyari announced he was being moved from isolation in Abuja to Lagos for "preventive treatment".[29] Kyari later died on the evening of 17 April 2020 at age 67.[30] He was eulogised by The Economist as “a largely honourable man who went to the heart of a thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional system, aiming to reform it—but who struggled to overcome its inertia amid a series of crises.”[31]

Honours and awardsEdit

Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON)[32]   National honour in Nigeria


  1. ^ "Abba Kyari, chief of staff to the president of Nigeria, 1952-2020". Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  2. ^ Ogundipe, Samuel (18 April 2020). "EXCLUSIVE: Abba Kyari's real date of birth uncovered". Premium Times. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  3. ^ Wallis, William (24 April 2020). "Abba Kyari, chief of staff to the president of Nigeria, 1952-2020".
  4. ^ a b Kyari, Abba (23 December 2009). "Ibrahim Tahir: A Personal Loss". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Buhari, Muhammadu (18 April 2020). "To my friend, Mallam Abba Kyari – Buhari". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Exxon Mobil Nigeria Board of Directors". Exxon Mobil. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  7. ^ Aboyade, Funke. "From Dublin, Law School Set of '83 Plans Big". This Day Live Nigeria. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Exxon Mobil Nigeria Board of Directors". Exxon Mobil. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  9. ^ Ibukun, Yinka and Alonso Soto (17 April 2020). "Nigerian President's Chief of Staff Dies After Getting Virus". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  10. ^ a b Olumide, Seye (19 April 2020). "Abba Kyari: A litany of controversies". The Guardian (Nigeria). Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  11. ^ Bolashodun, Oluwatobi. "Fani-Kayode Reacts To Abba Kyari's Appointment". Naij. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Abba Kyari: The Man, The Mandate And The Mission". Leadership. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Buhari appoints SGF, Chief of Staff, others - Premium Times Nigeria". 27 August 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  14. ^ Bakare, Tonye. "Buhari appoints Lawal as SGF, Kyari as CoS". Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  15. ^ Published. "Men of power: Nigeria's most influential power brokers". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  16. ^ "The reign of Abba Kyari". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  17. ^ "In surprise move, Saraki personally submits names of ministers to Buhari - Premium Times Nigeria". 3 November 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Go through Abba Kyari to see me, Buhari directs ministers - P.M. News". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Abba Kyari: Prime minister in a presidential system". Businessday NG. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Oyo-Ita, Kyari In Heated Argument At Presidential Villa". Channels Television. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Buhari sacks Head of Service, Oyo-Ita - Premium Times Nigeria". 18 September 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  22. ^ Alli, Yusuf (23 March 2020). "Alleged N570m fraud: Ex-Head of Service Oyo-Ita arrested". The Nation. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  23. ^ Ogundipe, Samuel (17 February 2020). "UPDATED: EXCLUSIVE: Buhari's team in disarray as NSA Monguno declares war on Abba Kyari". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  24. ^ Haruna, Mohammed. "Tahir: The Death of a Radical Conservative".
  25. ^ Kyari, Aisha Abba (5 May 2020). "Aisha Abba Kyari: My daddy, my best friend". TODAY. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  26. ^ Owoseye, Ayodamola (24 March 2020). "UPDATED: Coronavirus: Abba Kyari reportedly tests positive; Kingibe, others may be tested". Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  27. ^ Desert Herald. "EXCLUSIVE: Buhari's Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari Admitted at London's Hospital". Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  28. ^ "Top Nigerian president aide, state governor test positive for coronavirus". Reuters. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  29. ^ "Covid-19: Why I moved to Lagos after testing positive - Abba Kyari". Daily Trust. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Buhari's Chief Of Staff Abba Kyari Dies". The Guardian Newspapers. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  31. ^ "Abba Kyari, who tried to clean up Nigeria, dies of covid-19". The Economist. 25 April 2020.
  32. ^ Nseyen, Nsikak (18 April 2020). "Abba Kyari: 10 things to know about Buhari's late Chief of Staff". Daily Post. Retrieved 19 April 2020.