Abba Kyari's Last Assignment That Could Have Changed Nigeria Forever


If the late Abba Kyari was a footballer and one wanted to give him a role on the pitch, it would be more appropriate to tag him a 'winger' due to his multi-dimensional skills, education and experience. The late 67-year-old well-read Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari was involved in all aspects of the Buhari-led administration ranging from ministerial appointments, security, oil and gas, communications, power supply and other vital areas you could think of. He was so influential that many regarded him as a prominent member of a secret cabal of the Buhari administration which usurped his powers. A section of the Nigerian media space also tagged him the De Facto President of Nigeria.

Abba Kyari who lost his life on Friday, the 17th of April due to health complications caused by Covid-19 despite his enormous influence and power was a man of a few words. He spoke less to the media. This is why till date, there are many questions about his integrity with little or no answers to them.

The Last Assignment

Abba Kyari reportedly contracted coronavirus when he travelled to Germany to meet with a multinational technology firm, Siemens AG. Rumours have it that the deceased who fell ill shortly after his return to Nigeria also stopped at Egypt which had recorded coronavirus cases as at then. Abba Kyari wasn't junketing around the world to see fancy places, eat foreign exotic meals, lay with foreign woman, pocket government money, take pictures in international hotels and other jamboree associated with tourism. He was finding a panacea to the electricity supply challenge which has plagued Nigeria for decades thereby preventing vast human and materials resources from being exploited gainfully to their full potentials.

It would be recalled that President Buhari had met with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel on August 31, 2018, to discuss some economic and infrastructural challenges in Nigeria. This meeting later birthed another with the CEO of Siemens named Joe Kaeser with the power project a focal point of the discussion. Buhari's vision was clear and well-spelt out. Buhari wanted incremental development in the power sector. As at July 2019, his initial target was 7,000 megawatts of stable electricity supply in 2021 from the barely 4,000MW that was available for distribution then. This was to further increase to 11,000MW in 2023 and then an ambitious 25,000MW in 2025.

Abba Kyari was leading negotiations with Germany's power company, Siemens which is planning to take over the power structure in Nigeria. On the 10th of March, 2020, Kyari alongside the Minister of Power, Mr Saleh Mamman and the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr Yusuf Tuggar met with the representatives of Siemens in Europe to iron out the details of a 6-year contract of equitable electricity generation, transmission and distribution signed two years ago. The deal was to cost N1.15tn in execution.

The Nucleus Of The Nigerian Electricity Problem

According to the Nigerian government, it presently generates 13,000MW of electricity and it relays 7,000MW to the distribution companies that can only distribute 3,000 to the consumers. The government subsidizes power for the Discos by accepting payment for just 1,000MW from the companies thereby incurring immense financial losses. This prompted government officials to threaten to put to Discos out of business by handing over the distribution of power to Siemens. This was contained in a Memorandum of Understanding submitted to the Federal Executive Council on the 20th of February for deliberation and approval. It would be recalled that the Discos came into the picture of power supply in Nigeria due to the privatisation arrangement of 2013 to that has largely failed.

With the Siemens deal, if Nigeria generates 13,000MW, everything will be transmitted and the entire 13,000MW will also be distributed to the end-users. Simply put, the 24hr supply of electricity was in sight.

Merits Of Improved Power Supply

With improved power supply in Nigeria, life would have become more comfortable for the general public. Power Supply is the lifeline of small and large scale enterprises in the world. The challenge of power supply which the Buhari administration had committed over N1.7 trillion is capable of boosting the local economy if resolved. It will reduce the cost of production as well as making it easier. It will also attract investors and aid the growth of small scale enterprises. One of the advantages of this development is that jobs will be created for the teeming population. Another merit is that the general public will not be short-changed as far as the power supply is concerned. The tussle around the estimated billing system might be gone with the advanced technical expertise of Siemens.

Additionally, Nigeria has been struggling to achieve full industrialization and diversify the local economy which is massively reliant on crude oil. This has prevented Nigeria from achieving economic growth like China, the Asian Tigers and other growing economies in Europe. One of the impediments to industrialization is power and the Siemens deal had the potential of giving Nigeria this industrial advantage.

Abba Kyari's Death And The Unfinished Business

On the 24th of March, 2020, reports emerged that Abba Kyari had tested positive to the deadly virus. It was rumoured that he was already coughing profusely which is one of the symptoms of the disease. Abba Kyari was alleged to have infected three of his aides as well as some top politicians who came in contact with him. Media reports blamed him for refusing to take precautions and self-isolating on returning from a high-risk country like Germany.

Meanwhile, the fate of the MOU signed with Siemens remains unknown. It isn't clear at present if the deal could go on without Kyari. A new Chief of Staff assigned to handle the deal might not be interested in working with any multinational corporation as his ideology might be different. There is also the high possibility that the power deal might die with Kyari. After the pandemic, the state of the brewing power deal will be known to the general public.

Kyari's concerted efforts would have undoubtedly improved power supply in Nigeria significantly. It could have marked the long-awaited rebirth the power sector needed. Kyari whose death has attracted mixed feelings across the country died in the line of duty after battling with the virus for over three weeks.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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