As I was saying before the rumbling about the fate of a vice president in an accident-prone presidency cropped up last week, let’s continue with our narrative on the ‘very knowledgeable’ versus ‘the most understanding’, sorry the most artful.

Recall that I had partially concluded last week that despite our perception and even naivety that the president had been uneducated, ‘the same unhealthy, clueless leader as we claim’, had taken control of the three arms of government.

I noted then that despite the alleged limited education, ’… he has surrounded himself in the presidential bureaucracy with some of the brightest men he can trust from his region….’ I also asked a rhetorical question: ‘Where is the testimony of the knowledgeable ones?’ And I charged us to continue the debate on ‘the difference between knowledge and understanding’ of the power elite.

I have received some responses to the debate on why I had thought that Buhari had been underrated and so should be ‘Man of the Decade’. As I promised, let’s examine the profile of the president’s men, most of us didn’t know. 

Since 2015, we have been calling them all sorts of names and the most constant has been a ‘Cabal’ Even the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari who holds a master’s degree, has been quoted several times as describing some of the known president’s men in derogatory terms.

So, specifically, there are four names that are constant when it comes to contextual reporting of the president’s men. And only one of them holds an official position as Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari. Others include, Alhaji Mamman Daura, Alhaji Ismaila Funtua and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe. The three big men are generally regarded as organic members of the president’s kitchen cabinet. Only some members of the aristocracy of the Nigerian mass media may know that there is a sense in which one can claim that the best profession in the world, ‘journalism’ actually brought together this triumvirate of powerful men behind the president (Daura, Ismaila and Kingibe).

In other words, these are not ordinary men. They are very educated. They are very British (they were all educated in ‘Great Britain’). They all understand history of their relationship with the very British colonial masters who taught them to understand the peculiarities that define our complex diversity.

 Let’s see the bio data of most powerful one the president himself actually introduced at the first cabinet retreat in 2015 as ‘the presidency’ ABBA KYARI as captured in various documents.


Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff  to President Muhammadu Buhari was appointed to the position on 27 August 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Warwick, England in 1980. He also possesses a Bachelor of Law from the University of Cambridge, England and was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School l in 1983. In 1984, he returned to United Kingdom, where he obtained a Master's degree in Law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management Development at Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School in 1992 and 1994.

Abba Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria. From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna, which published the defunct ‘The Democrat ‘based in Kaduna. In 1990 he served as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State. 

From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was Secretary to the Board of the then African International Bank Limited (Mamman Daura was Chairman). Kyari later rose to be Executive Director, Management Services, United Bank for Africa Plc. (UBA) and was later appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. in 2002 and is a Director of Exxon Mobil Nigeria. He is a recipient of the Nigerian Honor Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).


Alhaji Duara, always introduced in any document as a Nigerian journalist and businessman who was Editor of the once influential ‘New Nigerian’ (newspaper) as a graduate of an Irish University.

Daura finished his secondary education at Okene Provincial School in 1956. He worked with the Daura Native Authority for a couple of years before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as a Programme Assistant. From 1962 to 1968, he studied Economics and Public administration at Trinity College, Dublin, of the University of Dublin, Ireland.


In 1968, Adamu Ciroma, Editor of the ‘New Nigerian’ then was looking to recruit qualified and educated northern Nigerians for the newspaper. One of those recruits was Daura who had completed his degree in Dublin. Daura was hesitant to take the position when he returned to Nigeria but instead worked in the office of Abba Kyari, the then military governor of North Central State. In April 1969, he finally joined the staff of ‘New Nigerian’ as the newspaper's new Editor. The first two years of his stewardship was a focus on coverage of issues affecting Northerners and protection of northern interests. Daura later became the Managing Director of newspaper's holding company. When General Murtala Muohammed’s military administration opted to take over the ownership of the newspaper, Daura left the company.

He was a board member of BCCI's Nigerian affiliate, Africa International Bank and founded a furniture factory in Kaduna. He was also a chairman of the now defunct Nigerian Bank of Commerce and Industry.


Alhaji Funtua trained as an administrative officer at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. The Katsina-born publisher and businessman thereafter proceeded to the Manchester University in the UK where he trained as an administrator. He was the Monitor General of the Course 9 of the prestigious National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPS), Kuru. Funtua served the Katsina Native Authority for seven years as Administrative Officer. He later served in various ministries in the defunct Northern Region before secondment by the Northern Region government as the Personnel Manager of the 10,500 strong United Nigerian Textile Company, Kaduna. From there he became a successful entrepreneur. Funtua is the founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited (one of the largest wholly owned indigenous construction companies), which built some of the iconic public buildings in Abuja. He is the founding Managing Director of the New Africa Holdings (publishers of the defunct ‘The Democrat’ (newspapers) Abba Kyari, (chief of staff) once edited. 

Funtua was elected Vice President to the late MKO Abiola as President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN). He later became the President of the NPAN. Funtua, the youngest Minister (Water Resources) in the Shagari administration, is a life patron of the NPAN. He is still the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) in Lagos. 


Kingibe, born in 1945 has held many high-level governmental posts. He hails from Borno State in the northeastern part of Nigeria, and is of Kanuri extraction.

In 1960, he travelled to London to complete his O-and A-levels at Bishop Stortford College, on a Borno Native Authority sponsored scholarship scheme. He took up further studies earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations at the University of Sussex, U.K, where he was a mate with Thabo Mbeki. He actually began a doctorate programme in Switzerland but left abruptly, returned to Nigeria and started work as a Research and Planning Officer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. But he soon left A.B.U for a career in journalism and he was the Head of Features and Current Affairs at the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria (BCNN).

In 1972, he joined the Nigerian Foreign Service where he started work as a senior counselor and later became the head of the political desk at the Nigerian High Commission in London. During the Obasanjo administration in the late 1970s, Kingibe worked in the Political Affairs Department as Principal Secretary and was involved in the government's return to civil rule programme, states creation and boundary adjustment, local government reforms and the constitutional drafting committee. In 1981,at age 36, he was appointed the Nigerian Ambassador to Greece and later the country's representative in Pakistan. The former Special Services Senior Officer (PS) was vice presidential candidate to M.K.O Abiola in the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida annulled.

This is just an executive summary on the political actors President Buhari is said to have relied on even as we keep saying he is clueless and uneducated. 

We will continue the conversation on the ‘elite naivety’ and lack of understanding of most of our very educated people who continue to underrate the powers behind the throne of Buhari. 

In the main, I think the First Lady’s consistency in the way she classifies the Cabal is a decoy and a distraction because she knows too well that we are naïve. What journalism has put together in the Big Four, who can put asunder?

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