The Economist of London says Abba Kyari, the late chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, tried to clean up Nigeria before his demise.
Exactly one week ago, Kyari died from COVID-19 complications. He had tested positive for the disease after a trip to Germany where he attended a meeting with officials of Siemens to discuss issues relating to the Nigerian power sector.
In a piece published on Thursday, Kyari was described as “a largely honourable man” who wanted the best for his country.
The Economist said Kyari was often bothered about the degree of corruption in the country and thought of ways to end it.
An instance was cited on how the boss of an energy company “forgot” a bag stuffed with $100 bills at his office but Kyari was quoted to have said: “much too much of our work is spent on stopping our own people stealing”.
“While Mr Kyari was alive, others were much less kind. Many saw him as the figurehead for a shadowy cabal that controlled policy and appointments, and granted favours and contracts,” the piece read.
“Cabinet ministers grumbled that they could not get past his door to discuss important issues with a distant and apathetic president. Mr Kyari’s economic thinking, which seemed stuck in the 1970s, was also criticised.
“There was some truth to these accusations. Yet there is also a broader parable of Mr Kyari. It is one of 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.
“He was known to turn down offers of free upgrades to first class (he thought it vulgar) before taking his seat in business class on British Airways flights.
“The corruption and decay of Nigeria’s state, and the inequality they bred, dismayed and worried him. Nigeria had to change, he argued. The question was whether it would be through orderly reform or chaotic breakdown.”
The publication said it is unfortunate that Kyari served in a government which took power after crash in oil prices pushed the country into recession.
It said the late chief of staff had hoped that Buhari’s second term “would provide an opportunity to liberalise the corrupt oil and gas industries by making contracts and licences more transparent and taking them out from under the thumb of politicians.”