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Abba Kyari, Funtua and now Maida… Buhari’s inner circle hit by the grim reaper

Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari, Buhari’s inner circle hit by the grim reaper
by Chinedu Asadu, The Cable

On Wednesday, when the social media went awash with that news that Mamman Daura, a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, had been flown abroad for emergency medical treatment, there was a feeling of “not again” in the president’s camp.

It has now been clarified in a report by TheCable that Daura, son of Buhari’s elder brother, is not ill as reported but on a routine medical check-up in the UK.

Nonetheless, the president has lost key friends and associates in recent times that tongues are bound to wag on the depleting ranks of his inner circle.

Wada Maida, who died on Monday, was a quiet but influential figure in the Buhari camp who died a few weeks after Ismiala Isa Funtua, an in-law to the president.

The death of Abba Kyari, his chief of staff, is apparently the most devastating to the president partly because of the key role of co-ordination that he played in government.

TheCable chronicles the deaths.


Abba Kyari was the first person within the president’s inner circle to die in recent times, and his death shook Nigeria for several reasons: he was the chief of staff to the president; he died of COVID-19, the first prominent Nigerian to succumb to the disease; and he was a member of “the cabal” and was even seen by some as Nigeria’s de-facto president.

Kyari died on April 17 after battling coronavirus for about a month. He had tested positive for the virus after he returned from Germany where he led a government delegation to meet with officials of Siemens to finalise deals relating to the Nigerian power sector. In his tribute, Buhari described Kyari as “very best of us” and “my dearest friend”.


The president was still mourning Kyari when Isa Funtua, another of his close allies, passed on. Funtua, who died on July 20, was another strong member of “the cabal,” and Buhari’s friend for many years. Like Buhari, he is from Katsina state while one of his sons is married to one of the president’s daughters.

Publisher of the defunct Democrat Newspaper and former president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Funtua believed he is not just a member of the cabal, rather, “I’m cabal myself.” While condoling with Funtua’s family, Buhari said his late friend’s death “created a huge gap as Malam Funtua consistently stood by him in his political journey.”


The latest of Buhari’s associates who passed recently was Wada Maida, who died suddenly after he slumped in his living room in Abuja, on August 17. He was a former spokesman of the president who served him as chief press secretary about 40 years ago when Buhari was the military head of state between 1983 and 1985.

Ever since then, he has remained in the president’s good books and was in 2017, appointed as chairman of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) board of directors. In his tribute to Maida, the president described the late media icon as “a very dedicated, hardworking and loyal professional for whom I have the deepest respect and admiration”.



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