Cambridge Notes Abba Kyari Forgot

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Jimoh Ibrahim pays tribute to Abba Kyari, former Chief of Staff to the President 

Yes, the dead man is committed to justice. There is also no doubting the fact that the record of assessments on earth is essential for final judgement in heaven. In all of these matters relating to Abba Kyari, an institution is at the centre of attention. The University of Cambridge Hinc lucem et pocula sacra (From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge) granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231 and today it is the fourth-oldest surviving university. The University of Cambridge is committed to her objectives of providing enlightenment and precious knowledge. For instance, in 2019 of her fiscal budgets of £2.1billion (over one trillion Naira) the University committed £592.4 million (over 600 billion) for research grants. If you say that I am biased on Cambridge matters, you may be right having committed my time to two degrees: an MBA (obtained) and a PhD Management Science (ongoing and in the final year). Cambridge with over 100 academic departments organised into six schools, student population of 23,247 of which 10,893 are postgraduate students, is arguably the best university in the geo-centric political society.

Abba Kyari attended the university for his second first degree (meaning that he got a degree before his admission to Cambridge for another first degree); this is usually the practice for some people who, like Kyari, attended another university for a first degree. And, clean up before you are admitted for a first degree again in Cambridge. If you are very exceptional you can be admitted directly to the first degree without the need of going all out to have a first degree first. In any event, it is always good news that Abba Kyari went to Cambridge.

The joy of attending Cambridge is in the unending list of her first-class notable alumni. Of Isaac Newton, Oliver Cromwell, Stephen Fry, Bertrand Russell, John Milton, Charles Prince of Wales, Edward VII, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking. Those incredible men created part of the excitement of the rush for going to Cambridge every year. And, unfortunately, the university only admits about 2% of the applicants every year regardless of each of them holding a first-class degree of other universities in the case of postgraduate college. And, with A* A* and A in the three Advance level subjects result, my son was recently denied admission to Cambridge (He settled for LSE) as it is in the case of undergraduates. Cambridge wants the best of the best at all times and it could be disappointing if people would be privileged to attend Cambridge and would fail to use the knowledge gained for the good of society. And sometimes out of the excitement of appointment to best positions in government, Cambridge graduates forgot their university notes of knowledge. Or a case of government overwhelmed with Cambridge degree and offering positions not related to the degree. Abba Kyari was appointed Chief of Staff to the President with a degree in Law. He went to Germany to head Infrastructure committee funding power without basic knowledge of the convergence of complexities of major programme. He writes a memo to the President on a large project without anyone in his office with a degree in major projects! He presides over diplomatic meetings without knowledge of international relations and he even nominated the Foreign Affairs Minister and was involved in the posting of ambassadors.

On his knowledge of political power, one can ask if Abba Kyari forgot the trajectory of power and its unsustainable mantras. Did Kyari remember the peasant in the 15th Century and the end of the allegiance to the Roman Emperor? The loss of confederation of principalities in mind is Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic? Did he forget how the peasant obedience to the Pope as the head of Western Christendom ended? Is it still the case that individuals living in the feudal society were members of a dizzying array of interrelated political allegiance only of their state of the citizen? Did he forget that the royal power rises over the power of the minor? And were the Royal authorities left unchallenged? Duchies, baronies, and countries were subjugated by royal power, extinguishing threats to kingly power ‘from below’ and uniting a hodgepodge of fiefs in the county. Did he forget at least King Henry VII’s rejection of papal authority in the 1534 Act of Supremacy? At least the church was freed as the supreme head of England State and from political intervention. Which power is permanent to which anyone can defend at the expense of all? And if we got all in a short while in power and we lost all in a lifetime we never enjoyed the gains of power abuse. Then, why attend Cambridge?

Abba Kyari is gone but Cambridge will continue her teachings in the place of global excellence. The lesson is to remember the rules of the powerlessness of power, and as my famous Professor from the University of Ife Professor Emmanuel Eshiemokia (of blessed memory) said, what do we gain from the destruction of people we can never create. Precisely Professor Eshiemokia said, “I wake up in the morning and I’m heavy, this is because I’m easily affected by the satisfaction that people derived from the destruction of men they can never create.”

Again, and unfortunately Abba Kyari’s principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, is at peace with no pressure for personal prosperity that he cannot explain. And, to him the 150 cows in Daura are more than sufficient for life and peace of the living. If Buhari knows you to be of obedience to the truth and loyalty, then you got him. But let’s be more faithful to knowledge and forget not our university notes on the powerlessness of power. Abba Kyari, good night!

––Ibrahim, OFR, CFR, is a PhD student at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.