The book, Abba Kyari: Portrait of a Loyalist, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Sides of Public Administration in Nigeria edited by Magnus Onyibe was launched via zoom on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.
According to a statement, the event, which kicked off by 2 pm, attracted many dignitaries across the broad spectrum of Nigerian society who joined virtually to partake in the proceedings.
After the opening address by Tervel Kejih, the editorial consultant, Mr Soni Irabor, a veteran broadcaster, who had interviewed Mr Onyibe the editor of the book, on his radio programme reviewed the book.
Mr Irabor pointed out that the book is a compilation of the Points of View (POV) of friends and foes of Mallam Abba Kyari, the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, as published in the media in the immediate aftermath of his sudden passage last April.
He explained that the views contained in the book, which were already published in the mass media, are
categorized into three parts, ‘The Good’, ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’. The part referred to as ‘the good’ captures glowing tributes and encomium from friends, colleagues and associates as well as those enamoured by Mallam Kyari’s demeanour and dedication to public service.
In his capacity as the book reviewer, he pointed out that, the points of view captioned ‘The Bad’ are not
necessarily bad, but it might have been so captioned only because they are non-committal, neutral and not infused with so much eulogy for Mallam Kyari as those contained in ‘The Good’. He commended the author for taking it upon himself to bring together the information which were in various media locations into a single platform in the form of a compendium as evidenced by the book for easy access by current and future generation of researchers.
In his comment, Alhaji Gambo Lawan, a fellow Borno State indigene with the man in whose memory the book was written and the former chairman of Grassroots Democratic Party (GDM) as well as a former governorship aspirant in the 2019 election was very appreciative of the author for capturing some of the positive sentiments expressed towards Mallam Kyari.
According to him, while Mallam Kyari served as CoS to the President, he personally tried on many occasions to convince him to speak up to clear the numerous misconceptions that many Nigerians harboured about him, but in his characteristic manner of not wanting to attract attention to himself, the late CoS never acceded to his numerous requests to burnish his image or correct misconceptions.
He always responded to his appeal by saying that he preferred to take the heat for his principal because that is what his job entailed.
Alhaji Gambo expressed the opinion that given the quality of the book, especially how it has helped to put the activities of the late CoS in proper perspective, he believed that Mallam Kyari would be looking down from Jannah upon the author with pride.
In his contribution, Mr Tonye Cole, the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the last governorship elections in rivers state and Director of the Sahara Energy Group, a major oil/gas player in Nigeria and Africa, congratulated the author for doing such a fine job of documenting history as it occurred with regards to the passing of Mallam Abba Kyari and the various emotions that Nigerians expressed towards him. According to Mr Cole, he believed that the impact of the book will be felt not only in the present time, but also in the future when it will become a guide for Nigerian Public / civil servants regarding how they should conduct themselves, in terms of loyalty and dedication to duty as they occupy critical posts in the public service.
On his part, Mr Henry Imasekha, a former colleague of the late Mallam Abba Kyari at UBA when they both served as executive directors, commented that he has read the book and not surprised about the quality of input from the author as well as the type of points of view that the author selected from the myriad that was swirling around in the media space. According to lmasekha, who is an investment banker, he has always known the author to be a highly intellectual individual against whom he has personally had intellectual dialogues on numerous national, international and existential issues on uncountable occasions. He expressed his confidence that anyone who reads the book will find it useful and instructive.
In his remark, Chief James Ibori congratulated the author for his doggedness in the pursuit of the vision to bring forth the book. According to him, it was only a few days after the demise of Mallam Kyari when the author, who was a commissioner in his cabinet when he served as the governor of Delta State, mentioned to him that he had started working on a book on the late Chief of Staff.
He was pretty impressed when just one month later; the author presented him with a copy of the book. He pointed out that the book would be a treasure trove to those who occupy public office and added that the dexterity of the author of the book is a reflection of the calibre of professionals that he selected to serve in his cabinet when he was governor.
The Minister of Power, Hon. Minister Saleh Mamman, amongst many others who were in attendance, including the editorial board chairman of ThisDay newspaper, Mr Segun Adeniyi, could not comment due to technical challenges in linking up audio on the zoom platform.
In his thank you and parting comment, Mr Magnus Onyibe expressed his appreciation to everyone who honoured him with their virtual presence at the book launch as well as several others such as Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Segun Osoba , Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, Prof George Obiozor, Governor AbdulRahman AbdukRazaq of Kwara State and Bishop Nicholas Okoh of the Anglican Church as well as Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari amongst many others too numerous to list who have read and endorsed the book but could not join in its launch owing to technical hitches and other compelling circumstances.
According to Mr Onyibe, copies of the book were sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and all the 44 ministers, 36 state governors, the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS), and government parastatals including the CBN, NNPC, NCC, NPA, NIMASA, etc. with the hope that they would have the book in their respective libraries as he believes there are many lessons to be learnt from Mallam Abba Kyari’s sweet and sour experience.
The author is impressed that the book is being well received by all Nigerians and expressed his hope that it would make its way into the hands of everyone who is in public / civil service because Mallam Abba Kyari’s experience chronicled in the book is meant to be a case study that should guide and shape the attitude of public office holders as they go about discharging their duties to their principal, country and God.
While stating that his vision is to see the book in all major libraries nationwide, he appealed to public spirited organizations to take it up as cause related marketing by sponsoring the initiative as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes.
A reprint which is currently in the process of being produced contains the list of tributes/comments contributors and an index which the author said he did not include in the first edition owing to time constraint, and which Dr Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesman and Arise TV Anchor, reminded him to include.