A Kanuri from Borno State, Kyari graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick, and also received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge.
In 1983, he was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School.
In 1984, he obtained a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Programme for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994, respectively.
Kyari, a powerful Chief of Staff, 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. In 1990, he served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State.
From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the secretary to the board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Kyari was an executive director in charge of management services at the United Bank for Africa, and was later appointed the chief executive officer.
In 2002, he was appointed a board director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.