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The Ailments That Complicated Kyari’s Battle Against Coronavirus


Mallam Abba Kyari until his demise Friday in Lagos where he was isolating and receiving treatment for the deadly coronavirus and other underlying ailments, was the most influential and powerful appointee in President Muhamadu Buhari’s cabinet. As Chief of Staff to the President, he wielded so much power and of course earned a lot of enemies and was regularly vilified privately and openly. After Buhari won reelection in 2019 he made Kyari his gatekeeper and ordered his Ministers to pass their requests through him.

He thus unarguably became one of the most vilified officials in the Buhari administration alongside the president himself. Shockingly, many were happy when he contracted COVID-19 and silently prayed he never returned to his job.

Not many people knew that Kyari had been battling a chronic type 2 diabetes, which required him to seek care regularly in London and Nigeria, two sources with knowledge of his health challenge told THEWILL. Kyari also had other health problems including high blood pressure, one source said, asking not be named.

“The odds were indeed stacked against him. The pre-existing ailments and his age gave him very remote chance of survival,” one of the sources said, after his demise.

Kyari is believed to have contracted the coronavirus during his official trip to Berlin, the German capital, alongside officials of the Power Ministry for meetings with Siemens AG senior executives in the second week of March 2020. Kyari on that trip also met privately with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, one source said. Merkel would later self-isolate over fears that her doctor, who contracted the virus, may have infected her.

A few days after his return to Nigeria, Mr. Kyari, who did not self-isolate for two weeks as required by the guidelines of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, started showing symptoms of coronavirus and was severely coughing in high profile meetings including meetings that had President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in attendance.

On March 24, 2020, he tested positive for the deadly virus but Buhari fortunately tested negative. Osinbajo also tested negative later.

On March 29, Kyari formally confirmed he had contracted the disease in a personal statement to the public. “I am writing to let you know that on medical advice, I will transfer to Lagos later today for additional tests and observation. This is a precautionary measure: I feel well, but last week, I tested positive for coronavirus, the pandemic that is sweeping the world. I have followed all the protocols government has announced to s elf-isolate and quarantine,” Kyari wrote, adding: “I hope to be back on my desk soon.” Sadly, Mallam Abba Kyari will never return to his desk at the seat of power nor to his family.

Kyari is so far the only high profile death from coronavirus in Nigeria. Only seventeen persons have been confirmed dead from the virus nationwide as at Friday night, while 493 confirmed cases have been recorded, according to data released by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC. 159 persons have recovered. Testing for COVID-19 has been very low in the country and the NCDC has been working to increase testing capacity which reached seven thousand daily capacity this week with a promise to continue to ramp up.

There is limited information on the birthday year and date of Kyari, a Kanuri from Borno State. He is however believed to have died in his 70s.

He earned a Bachelors Degree in Sociology from the University of Warwick in 1980 and also earned another Bachelors Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983.

He got his Masters Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge in 1984.

The battle to replace the deceased may divide influential members of the Buhari kitchen cabinet with names like Babagana Kingibe, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika and Customs Director-General, Hameed Ali being linked to the post.

Buhari’s powerful cousin, Mamman Daura is expected to play a key role in who gets the position though Mrs. Aisha Buhari is expected to also try and influence a nominee.

The Presidency in a statement Friday announced Kyari’s demise from COVID-19 days after rumours of his death had been falsely peddled via social media mostly out of mischief.

“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.

“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020 May God accept his soul.

“Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly,” one of President Buhari’s spokesmen, Femi Adesina, said in the statement.

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