Tony Blair’s A Journey
Abba Kyari on my mind
Many have vilified ,or worse still, crucified this man, that when his death came he gave up the ghost quickly. He must have thought it was for the greater good, “let’s end it here” he most likely had said to himself. While many fought Covid19 to a standstill, he offered no resistance.
As nobody speaks ill of the dead, a lot more people, not least amongst whom is Segun Adeniyi, have come out in recent times to attest to the brilliance and effectiveness of Abba in faithfully discharging his duties as the Chief of Staff to our Mohammadu Buhari. How I wish many of these words on marble came out in the press while Abba was still a breathing mold of clay and not after he has returned to his maker.This, probably, would have meant so much to him, his family and the nation as well. In matters like this, I always remember how the great Awo was attested to as the “best President Nigeria never had” after his death. Yet for his entire lifetime he was denied, ridiculed and humiliated in his efforts to become one!
The words of Tony Blair, in his memoirs simply titled “A Journey ” lay out clearly what Abba’s roles were supposed to be:
“Creating time for a leader is a near-sacred task. The person in charge is one of the most important in the team and they have to be completely ruthless in saying no. The leader has always got to be the good guy. You bump into someone; they ask for a meeting; you agree , of course. What can you say? ‘You’re too tedious, too unimportant and have nothing of any interest to say’? Of course not. You have to say yes. It’s the job of the scheduler to say no. ‘But he agreed to see me.’ No. ‘But he said he wanted to see me.’ No. ‘But he said he had been meaning to call me himself to fix a meeting.’ No. ‘But . . .’ No.
We used to have a phrase in the office called, in mock severity, SO which stood for ‘sackable offence’. Itapplied to scheduling a meeting with people who were never to cross the threshold. It applied even if I had agreed to the meeting. It applied – I am a little ashamed to say – even if I had expressed to the individual concerned my deep frustration with my own office for defying my wishes and not scheduling the meeting. “
Well, there we have it. The news headlines were that Abba and his mafia had hijacked the presidency., that Buhari was being held hostage and his ministers and leaders of thought were prevented from free access to him. These were the documented sins of Abba but these were exactly the reason for which he was hired, as Blair explained above. Being a very religious lot, it is apt to check what the Bible admonishes regarding this. Romans 14:4 says “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” Simply interpreted, the President is the one that can determine how well Abba had performed and so far, he has been full of praise for the man. So, I would think that Kyari was exceptionally good at his job and that was the source of frustration to many who were hounding and castigating him. For sure, death is probably a reprieve for this gentleman who the nation owes a lot of gratitude.
Abba Kyari, rest in peace now. You fought a good fight.
Not everyone should write a memoir
The act of reading is aided by good writers. Even where you have not a great story to tell, one’s writing can make all the difference. Writing is a gift, you either have it or not, and unfortunately not many have this gift.
Tony Blair must have been an astounding politician, no doubt. It takes a man of great talent to wrestle the reigns of government from an established party who have honed their skills in governance for 18 years. Not only did he do that, he managed to sustain the momentum by twice serving as the UK Prime Minister, consecutively. However, when it comes to writing, it is probably a great advise that he should leave this to others.
Not many books have left me challenged and disinterested at the same time. This one by Tony Blair effortlessly accomplishes both. The introduction was great and to a great extent the first chapter but from there everything became a struggle to read. I often was asking myself, did i live through Tony’s era? But I did and as such was expecting that this memoir was going to provide me an insight to the what, the when and the why of the big decisions of his government. I got something else, one that I didn’t bargain for. A treatise on the “New Labour”. Except Tony had it in his mind that he was writing exclusively for the consumption of the British audience, he would have endeared more people to his sojourn by reducing the extent of text written to applaud his achievements in bringing about a rejuvenation in the Labour party.