The chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has described the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, as a true Nigerian patriot and said he was the first to sell President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy to him.
“I recall he was the one that first approached me in 2002 as the National President of Nigeria Labour Congress to sell Buhari’s candidacy to the labour movement. He invested his personal resources, energy and wide contacts in the business world in the project,” Mr Oshiomhole said.
Mr Kyari had on March 23 tested positive to the novel coronavirus and died on Friday while on treatment at a medical facility in Lagos..
In a statement on Monday, Mr Oshiomhole joined other leaders and Nigerians in paying tribute to the late Mr Kyari.
Recalling his interactions with the late presidential aide, Mr Oshiomhole, who has not spoken to the media since the federal government issued the lockdown directive, said his relationship with President Buhari’s right hand man did not start with APC emergence as the ruling party but earlier during his time as a labour leader.
“Way back in 1973, we had found ourselves in opposing sides of the isle at Zamfara Textile in Kaduna: I was the leader of the workers union while he represented the management as Admin Officer.
“But in the many brushes the union had with the management, Abba Kyari showed a true character as a conscientious man, a true Nigerian patriot, by never failing to side with workers on the core issues of human dignity and fairness.
“Following our protest, he was the lone voice at the management meeting who spoke against the operation of two classes of canteen by the company. He was not afraid to state that having a uniform canteen for both management staff and junior workers was the only way to convince the junior workers that their meal was not inferior.
“Similarly, even though he was supposed to be on the side of the “oppressor”, Abba Kyari persuaded the management to incur extra costs by issuing all factory workers two pairs of personal protective uniform and safety boots.
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“The amazing thing was that, in pushing our case with management every time, Abba Kyari never sought to be seen or worshipped as a ‘hero’.
“For him, advocating for social justice was not a favour, but a duty,” Mr Oshiomhole said.
“Abba Kyari was not only loyal to President Buhari, he was also faithful to friends through thick and thin. His sense of humour was phenomenal. I recall that whenever we met and I complained that the stress of running the office of National Chairman was such that I had little time to socialise with old friends like him, he would tease by saying, “If a young man like you is complaining of stress as ordinary National Chairman of a party, I wonder what you expect someone like President Buhari who is running the entire country at his age and with all he has been through since the 60s and is still making sacrifices today, to say,” he added.