Mamman Daura, a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, has revealed that in run-up to the 1999 presidential election, the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, was considered as Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate.
Daura stated this in a tribute to Kyari who died on April 17 of coronavirus.
He said Kyari was among those pushing Obasanjo’s cause on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“These times coincided with the country’s return to democracy and Malam Abba was among those enthusiastically espousing the cause of General Obasanjo,” he wrote.
“On his selection as PDP candidate, a group of women and youths in the PDP lobbied Obasanjo to pick Malam Abba as his Vice Presidential running mate. After heated debates, Obasanjo eventually picked Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
Daura said he first met the late Kyari in the mid-1970s when he (Daura) was the editor of the now defunct New Nigerian Newspaper.
He explained how a ‘diffident’ Kyari accepted the position of a proof reader despite being “beneath his station” as there were no vacancies in the newsroom or in sub-editing.
Within weeks, Daura said Kyari was moved to the newsroom and their relationship became stronger.
He said he and Kyari left the newspaper about the same time, and that Kyari soon left the country for further studies.
On his return to Nigeria, he wrote that Kyari worked in several places and was later beckoned by industrialist, Isa Funtua, to head a new newspaper, ‘The Democrat’.
According to Daura, the late Kyari “grew out of every job he held hitherto.”
The President’s nephew said when United Bank for Africa was on the brink of collapse in the mid-1990s, again, Kyari was approached by business tycoon, Hakeem Bello-Osagie, and others to revive it.
Daura said, “And when Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie assembled a team of investors and managers to help revive the collapsing UBA, Malam Abba was persuaded to join the group and after weeks of diligence the group acquired UBA and Malam Abba joined the bank as a senior executive. Needless to relate, he eventually became the bank’s chief executive and on retirement was persuaded to remain as non-executive vice-chairman.”
Daura described the late chief of staff as one who was more intelligent than all of Buhari’s advisers and ministers.
On Kyari’s little-known philanthropy he wrote: “Few people knew that over 10 years ago, he turned his house in Maiduguri (since he no longer resided there) into accommodation for IDPs. At some stage, there were 75 people whom Malam Abba was feeding, clothing and looking after; in addition to their children’s education.
“Later, the numbers got larger. Malam Abba never said a word to anybody about this. Amma and her siblings are not the only orphans Malam Abba left!”