Documenting the good, bad and ugly sides of Abba Kyari

By Prisca Sam-Duru
Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you- Shannon Alder.
Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people- Peter Strople.
No death, out of the many casualties of the murderous disease known as Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, has generated a litany of mixed commentaries as that of the late Chief of Staff, CoS to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari who died on the 17th April, 2020.
In this case, his being seen as defacto president and usurper of presidential powers, and not his background, were the judging factor.
To ensure, for purpose of history and to throw more insight into the part the late CoS played as a loyal public servant who seemed to have made more foes than friends, public policy analyst and development strategist, Magnus Ebiye-Onyibe, published his book titled: “Abba Kyari: Portrait of A Loyalist”.
The 243-page book published by Inspire Media Services Limited, Lagos, is a compendium of Points of View, POV of individuals and organisations published earlier in the media. These POV capture whatever memories Nigerians made of Abba Kyari.
And to reflect the diverse emotions of Nigerians following Mallam Kyari’s death, the author also added a subtitle, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, inspired by the 1966 blockbuster movie written and produced by two Italians; Sergio Leone and Luciano Vicenzoni.
For ease of reading, the compendium which serves as a reference material to future researchers, is arranged in many parts, beginning with a ‘Preface’ that offers a peep into the subject of the book. Succeeding the Preface are articles by the author and Reuben Abati which are documented under ‘My Take’. In addition to the subtitles of the book, a ‘Postscript, ‘Afterwords’ and ‘Conclusion’ mark the concluding part of the compendium.
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The book according to Onyibe, who was a broadcaster with the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, before joining the Delta State Government, “is not compiled to hurt or help anybody”. It is therefore, a compilation of teeming points of view, POV, expressed by friends and foes of the late COS to the President, whose life was cut shot, though not in his prime, by the vicious Corona Virus, ravaging the world.
As noted above, Kyari’s demise elicited glowing tributes and encomiums from friends, colleagues, associates as well as those enamoured by his demeanour and dedication to public service. These accounts, the author grouped under ‘The Good’.
Under ‘The Bad’ category, readers will savour a collection of commentaries from Kyari’s seemingly army of haters, but may read with mouths agape, the accounts recorded in ‘The Ughly’, where the writers, without giving a damn, defied the general African belief that it is a taboo to speak ill of the dead.
The author hopes that his efforts at documenting the POV will serve as a case study with the capacity to necessitate attitudinal change in public servants while discharging their duties.
In what seems like a support to the author’s wish, Steve Osuji ended his article on Abba Kyari under ‘The Ugly’ section thus, “This is the lesson for those currently in high places: Do not expect to be mourned like a patriot if you lived a villain!”
It is believed therefore, that the book under review would spur readers, particularly, political office holders, into ensuring they impact positively on the masses such that when they depart this earth, articles such as documented in ‘The Ugly’ part of Magnus Onyibe’s book, will be denied a space in their tributes.
While tributes that fall on ‘The Good’ and ‘The Ugly’ part of the book fit perfectly into these categories, it is hard to see the bad in few of the ones that make up ‘The Bad’. But before readers get the chance to criticise the author regarding this, it will be better to first go through the introduction that precedes the articles.
Abba Kyari: Portrait of A loyalist makes a good read and will be of great help to students, researchers as well as anyone interested in Nigeria politics.
Vanguard
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