The number of top shots of the ruling All Progressives Congress jostling to replace the late Malam Abba Kyari as President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff reached thirty seven yesterday, knowledgeable Presidency sources told Akelicious last night. Kyari died of COVID-19 infection at a Lagos hospital last Friday and was buried in Abuja on Saturday. Among the 37 candidates, Akelicious learnt, are serving state governors and ministers, former governors, former ministers, senators as well as other current and former top officials of government. They include Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, former Borno State governor and current Borno Central senator Kashim Shettima, Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, FCT Minister Mohammed Musa Bello, Kaduna State governor Nasiru el-Rufa’i, APC national chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor of Yobe State and former APC national secretary Mai Mala Buni and Customs Comptroller General Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali, retd.
Also in the reckoning, Akelicious learnt, are National Security Adviser Major General Mohammed Monguno, Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, Science and Technology Minister Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu, former Lagos State military governor Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa and former Interior Minister and one-time Army Chief Lt. General Abdurrahman Bello Dambazau. Other candidates mentioned for the top job vacated by Kyari, the sources said, include Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, Information Minister Lai Mohammed, Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South, Ambassador to China Baba Ahmed Jidda, party chieftain Faruk Adamu Aliyu and former Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung. Still other candidates are Leadership newspapers publisher Sam Nda-Isaiah, former State House permanent secretary Jalal Arabi, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu and Major Hamza al-Mustapha, one-time Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha. One time Chief of Army Staff Lt General Alwali Kazir; Major General Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar, one-time military governor of Katsina and Kaduna States and National Security Adviser to President Umaru Yar’adua, as well as one-time military governor of Niger State Colonel Lawan Gwadabe were also mentioned as candidates.
The Presidency sources said while no formal process had been set in motion to replace the late Kyari, influential APC members, party state branches and other power blocs have mounted intense lobbying for their various candidates. The large number of candidates from Borno State, our sources said, was because party chieftains from the state believe that it is only natural to replace Kyari with someone from his home state or at least from the North East region. Other candidates’ supporters however argued differently, saying many top Buhari Administration officials are from the North East and it is time to consider candidates from other zones. Another source however told Akelicious that President Buhari is in no hurry to replace his former top right-hand man Kyari. The source said when the matter was broached with him on Sunday, Buhari said it is not even necessary to appoint a new Chief of Staff since the office is not a constitutional requirement. He might have just said so in order to ward off pressure, our sources said, and that a replacement is likely to be made after a decent period of mourning for the late Abba Kyari.