Kyari, Daura, others in Buhari’s kitchen cabinet have two things in common: journalism, UK education

PROFILES of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet members show not only that they all graduated from prestigious universities in the United Kingdom but they also have a substantial background in journalism.

This was pointed out on Sunday by Martins Oloja, editorial board member and former editor at the Guardian newspaper, in an opinion article. The institutions attended by the president’s men include the University of Cambridge in England, University of Dublin in Ireland, Manchester University, and University of Sussex.

Oloja had argued in the first part of the article published on September 15 that surrounding himself with an experienced and well-educated “cabal” enabled Buhari to take “control of the three arms of government with his men from his region and religion”.

These kitchen cabinet members include Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, Alhaji Mamman Daura, Alhaji Ismaila Funtua, and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe. According to Oloja, they are “some of the brightest men he [Buhari] can trust from his region” and a wrong understanding of them has also led many into underrating Buhari himself.

“Only some members of the aristocracy of the Nigerian mass media may know that there is 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),” the columnist wrote on Sunday.

“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 the history of their relationship with the very British colonial masters who taught them to understand the peculiarities that define our complex diversity.”

As curated by Oloja, below are their profiles:

Abba Kyari

Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari was appointed to the position on 27 August 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree 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 the 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).

Mamman Daura

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

Ismaila Isa Funtua 

He 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. 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 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.

Babagana Kingibe 

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, UK, 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 counsellor 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 was vice presidential candidate to M.K.O Abiola in the June 12 1993 Presidential Election military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida annulled.

Elite naivety

The former Guardian newspaper editor concluded that many Nigerians keep saying President Buhari is “clueless and uneducated”, forgetting the rich background and experience of those he surrounds himself with.

He wrote: “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?”

    Aisha had in December 2018 alleged that a powerful group of two to three people are dominating affairs of government.

    “Our votes were 15.4 million in the last elections and after that only for us to be dominated by two people… this is totally unacceptable,” she said.

    “If 15.4 million people can bring in a government and only for the government to be dominated by two people or three people, where are the men of Nigeria? Where are the Nigerian men? What are you doing? Instead of them to come together and fight them, they keep visiting them one after the other licking their shoes (I’m sorry to use those words).”

    She made similar statements during an interview with BBC Hausa in October 2016, where she said her husband’s government had been hijacked by a “few people”.

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

    Support the ICIR

    We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

    Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

    If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Support the ICIR

    We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.


    Most read