“Please can you kindly stop any further media campaign against Mallam Abba Kyari on Hajia Maryam Danna, since the Senate reinstated her.” He will do what is necessary in his case.
This is the call that I received from a person close to Mallam Abba Kyari, the all-powerful Chief of Staff (CoS) of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The call of this sir had arrived immediately after PRNigeria published a report. of an umpteenth Senate resolution that day, for the immediate reinstatement of Mrs. Maryam Danna, of Shuwa ethnic nationality from Borno State, as Mr. Kyari.
Ms Danna, a chartered accountant with the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), was a respected whistleblower who had exposed corrupt practices and other irregularities within the federal agency, for which some of its officials were sanctioned . But rather than being rewarded for this act of patriotism, the government reabsorbed and promoted some of the previously suspended indicted officials. They were transferred to higher levels in other government departments, while she was arbitrarily sacked without any justification in July 2016.
Presented with facts, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the woman to be reinstated in her post at the agency. In a note dated October 25, 2016, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami (SAN) wrote to Mr. Kyari, informing him of the president’s decision. Nothing happened. Through advocacy, some notable non-governmental organizations, alongside local and foreign media, have advocated for the reinstatement of Ms. Danna to her post at the NDPHC, through their main reports, which unfortunately were unsuccessful.
The 8th Senate of the Federal Republic, under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki, passed a resolution on May 3, 2018, ordering the immediate recall of Maryam Danna to her post as Director General (Audit and Compliance) of NDPHC, but the power- who is in the presidency refused to budge on this point. The recent decision by federal lawmakers therefore came 22 months after the resolution.
PRNigeria has published reports and opinion pieces on the fate of Ms. Danna, which was initially seen as a conspiracy between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Federation government secretary Babachir Lawal. However, it was later realized that the responsibility for the case lay with the office of the president’s chief of staff.
The interlocutor who had ensured the reinstatement of Ms. Danna to her post at NDPHC later mentioned that Mr. Kyari’s roles on various issues had been misinterpreted in the media and, as such, were seriously misunderstood by the public. He described the CoS as a very humble, reliable, workaholic, loyal, generous, intelligent and detribalized Nigerian, which meant good to the country.
In expressing my reservation with regard to some of the superlatives used to describe the late CoS, I had reminded the interlocutor of the plight of Ms. Danna displaced from her job for over four years and also of the known internal struggles of Mr. Kyari with other influential figures in government.
I mentioned his widely publicized break with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, allegedly over a ministerial appointment; his heated argument in the Federal Executive Council Chamber with the former head of department, Ms. Winifred Oyo-Ita, over the surreptitious reinstatement of the indicted pension pillager, Abdulrasheed Maina; his standoff with the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, over the coordination of the national security architecture and; his alleged dissenting views with Vice President Osinbajo on Ruga’s breeding colonies and other plans. This prompted a federal lawmaker to claim that Mr. Kyari was “more powerful” than the vice president.
The interlocutor replied that the scenarios listed were mere imaginary fractures created and promoted by the political opposition to tarnish the reputation of the CoS, which he described as sincere and incorruptible. I told him that a reputation is the general belief about a person based on social assessment and other references. I then asked whether the appellant was aware of the damning media reports of Mr. Kyari’s reputation, which were neither refuted by factual counter-narratives nor debunked by more credible arguments.
I further cited the alleged bribe of 500 million Naira allegedly given to him by the telecommunications company, MTN; the reported swindle of his city dweller, Bako Waziri Kyari, of a naira 29 million contract bribe; and allegations of ill-treatment inflicted on a police officer, DSP Tijjani Bulama, for intervening in Bako Kyari’s fate in order to recover his money. Most of these allegations were made during a live broadcast by popular radio Brekete Human Rights in Abuja.
The caller stammered out a response that Mr. Kyari was a gentleman, tolerant of criticism, and added that no matter how vilified the CoS was, media vilification would not change Mr. Kyari. For him, most of the allegations were fake news and fake news sponsored by members of the opposition. Realizing the bitter turn his mood had taken, I refrained from further questioning the appellant about CoS’s reputation, nor bothered to inform him that some of the leaked official documents tainted Mr. Kyari’s reputation came from members of his party.
For example, in 2016, a note from Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai to President Buhari was leaked. Mr. El-Rufai accused Mr. Kyari of “being totally ignorant of the CPA and its internal politics”. In another note leaked the following year, 2017, then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu criticized Mr. Kyari for preventing him from seeing the president on matters relating to his ministry. . Additionally, in a leaked brief sent to the House of Representatives’ National Security and Intelligence Committee in 2018, former NIA boss Ambassador Mohammed Dauda made serious allegations against the CoS. .
Ultimately, the appellant agreed that the office of the President’s Chief of Staff required serious reputation management to correct misperceptions about its functions and principle, through public disclosure of the facts regarding a number of Questions. The appellant even promised to set up an appointment for PRNigeria to have an audience with the Chief of Staff, after he could have completed the reinstatement of Ms Maryam Danna in her duties.
Reputation management, a public relations act, is a deliberate effort to shape public perception by influencing positive changes in attitude and behavior in an organization or system, if necessary, to regain respect. , the trust and the patronage it deserves. Such a rehabilitated reputation would therefore be measured by the subsequent character and professionalism of the office and its managers, in the future.
Although the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly sent a letter in March 2020 to the secretary of the Federation government, Boss Mustapha, urging him to direct the director general of the NDPHC to comply and implement his resolution on Ms Danna’s case, I doubt the CoS was officially informed before he was hospitalized and sadly passed away from the coronavirus disease.
There is an urgent need for public officials to be aware of the need to manage their reputation in a positive way by researching and understanding the reasons behind the public’s misconception of their roles and activities in government. They should begin responding in a timely and responsible manner to public concerns, including false reports, fake news, and unfounded allegations about themselves and their actions. Where appropriate, a crisis communications plan is essential to subsequently manage any untoward developments around these officials and their offices.
When I read some of the complimentary tributes written by the family, friends and associates of Mallam Abba Kyari after his death, albeit belated, I now seem convinced to believe the appellant as the former head of Staff was a really nice, detribalized and perhaps misunderstood Nigerian man.
Yushau A. Shuaib
Founder of PRNigeria and author of “Crisis Communication Strategies”