I received the sad news of Mallam Abba Kyari’s death at around 1 am on 18 April 2020. The last time I spoke to him was on 31 March 2020 after he had moved to Lagos to receive treatment for complications arising from Covid-19.
Mallam Abba was a dedicated professional and he was fully committed to the Nigerian cause. He was in the office seven days a week, from 8am or earlier till 8pm on working days and for at least seven hours on weekends and public holidays trying to make Nigeria better for our collective benefit. None of us in his team could match his work ethic, a testament to his total dedication to the cause.
Mallam Abba worked tirelessly to find solutions to Nigeria’s critical problems, from healthcare to education and infrastructure. It was while on official trip to Germany to finalise a deal to address some of the key challenges of the power sector, that he contracted the virus that proved fatal.
One of the last letters he signed on 20 March 2020, and the last time I also saw him, was a letter that conveyed the President’s approval for funding to enable the completion of eighteen keys roads across the country. Following a presentation of the activities of the Ministry of Works and Housing to the Federal Executive Council by the Minister, Mallam Abba observed that not much was required to complete certain roads. Accordingly, he solicited additional information from the Minister of Works and Housing on what will be required to complete the roads. Upon receipt of the information, he made a case for funding for the roads and the President approved. In approving the recommendations, the President appreciated the initiative and reiterated his commitment to addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.
This is quintessential Abba Kyari. From the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative, to the Presidential Infrastructure Fund, the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative and others, Abba Kyari made enduring contributions to solving critical problems. Without his initiatives the second Niger bridge, the rehabilitation of Kano to Abuja road will continue to languish due to lack of funding. The Presidential Power Initiative with Siemens, that was meant to address distribution bottlenecks, ultimately caused him.
Other programs and projects that will continue to impact on the lives of millions of Nigerians include the 10 MW grid solar power project in Kano, planting of 26 million tress to address desertification, establishment of 16 Federal Science and Technical Schools in States without one and the creation of the Special Public Works Program to provide part time employment to 40,000 Nigeria youths across eight States from February 2020 to April 2020 on a pilot basis. This program will now be extended to all the 36 States and FCT and it will provide temporary employment to774,000 youths as part of the Federal Government’s Covid -19 palliatives. Indeed, my last correspondence to Mallam Abba on 3 April, was to inform him about the President’s approval for the five hundred billion Naira Covid 19 intervention fund, which included expansion of the Special Pubic Works Program to cover all States and FCT. A fitting tribute to the man, that one of his creations will provide succour to thousands due to the economic fallout of Covid-19, long after he was gone.
It was a privilege, an honour and an education working for him during the last 30 months. He was an intelligent man, well read, full of ideas on how to move Nigeria forward. He did his best for Nigeria and died doing so. Few of us can ever make that claim.
May Allah grant him perfect resting peace and may He grant his family the strength to bear the loss. Amin.