By Chudi Okoye
The Chief of Staff to the Nigerian president, Mallam Abba Kyari, is dead. His death was confirmed in a tweet posted at 12:44 am local Nigerian time on Saturday, April 18, 2020 by Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Mr Adesina’s tweet read as follows: “Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, passes on. May God rest his soul. Amen. Funeral arrangements to be announced soon.”
▲ Mr Femi Adesina’s Tweet
In a press release later posted on his Facebook page, Mr Adesina confirmed that “the deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment.” He wrote that Mallam Kyari he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.
Mallam Abba Kyari’s death came after a period in which he was reported to be battling coronavirus infection. The powerful mandarin is the first reported victim of the dreaded disease in the upper echelons of the Nigerian government.
His death will reverberate through the Buhari administration and the broader terrain of Nigerian politics. It may also likely recast the allegedly lethargic approach of the Nigerian federal government in combating the disease. Mallam Kyari’s demise may equally spark desperate speculation about his contact history and the spectre of contagion in the administration.
It will be recalled that Mallam Kyari had gone on a visit to Germany and Egypt, two global hot spots of coronavirus contagion, after Nigeria had recorded its first coronavirus case on February 27. He was reported to have met with officials of Siemens in Germany during his tour, accompanied by the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman. The meeting took place on March 9. It was announced on March 24 that Kyari had tested positive for Covid-19 in a test performed the previous day.
After Mallam Kyari’s infection became public, he left Abuja for Lagos to receive proper medical care, although the federal government remain secretive about his whereabouts. Mallam Kyari himself had issued a statement on March 29, six days after his positive test, confirming his situation and plans.
“…last week, I tested positive for coronavirus,” he wrote, “the pandemic that is sweeping the world. I have followed all the protocols government has announced to self-isolate and quarantine.”
He said he was making personal arrangements for treatment. “I will transfer to Lagos later today for additional tests and observation, Mallam Kyari wrote. He claimed that this was “a precautionary measure”, that he felt “well” and did not have “high fever or other symptoms associated with this new virus…” He also said that he had “been working from home”, and “hope[d] to be back at my desk very soon.”
It is thought that Mallam Kyari died at the health facility in Lagos.
Mr Femi Adesina said in his notices that funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.
Incidentally, the death of Mallam Abba Kyari came soon after a ramp up in coronavirus cases and fatalities were announced by the Nigerian Centre fo Disease Control (NCDC).
As we report in the updated Awka Times tracking, on April 17 Nigeria added 51 new cases and recorded four new deaths, the largest daily additions so far.
The growing number of cases and fatalities, dramatized by Mallam Kyari’s death, will concentrate minds within the administration.
Awka Times will track the developments and provide details later.