COVID-19: Nigerian Presidency and How Buhari's Chief Of Staff Abba Kyari dies of coronavirus?

Millions Of Naira spent In Trying To Save Life Of Chief Of Staff

Chief Of Staff Abba Kyari to the Nigerian President, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the presidency said on Saturday.

Nigerian Presidency announced in a statement that it "regrets to announce the passage" of Abba Kyari, who acted as gatekeeper to the president of Africa's most populous nation. "The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020," the statement said.

Kyari, in his 70s, was the highest-profile COVID-19 death in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The influential technocrat, who was reported to have suffered from underlying health issues, was seen as one of the dominant figures in the tight-knit group of advisers around Buhari.

A defacto head of state was reportedly controlled access to the president, a 77-year old former military ruler now in his second term as democratically elected leader, overseeing key meetings and granting audiences.

Kyari tested positive for coronavirus in late March after visiting Germany and Egypt, forcing a string of top Nigerian officials who had been in contact with him to self-quarantine.

Shaararrporters confirmed that Kyari, who had a history of diabetes and was in his 70s until his death on Friday, refused to observe the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period, instead going about his normal activities and subjecting dozens of persons including ministers, state governors and Aso Villa staff to the risk of contracting the virus.

In a statement released on March 29, Kyari said he had been transferred to Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, for private medical treatment and hoped "to be back at my desk very soon". He said.

Three of his staff in the Villa were shortly afterwards confirmed to have contracted the virus while some state governors, who had contact with him were also infected.

After being denied the usage of the Presidential Intensive Care Unit at Aso Villa, Abuja, which was kept for the use of Major Gen. Buhari in case there was an emergency around him with consideration that the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital isolation unit was too low for his standard and or liking, Lagos was considered the best place to find cure for Kyari.

In the face of a global lockdown and with many countries with functional health systems closing their borders to international visitors, the Lagos Infectious Diseases Centre was one of the few places that could successfully deal with his case especially after it treated an Italian man, who first brought the virus into the country at the time, with great success.

But rather than check into the facility of the Lagos State Government, Kyari violated the Quarantine Act to embark on a private treatment for his Coronavirus infection against the directive and recommendation of senior government and Ministry of Health officials.

According to a senior government official, his move to Lagos and choice of a private treatment facility cost the Nigerian Government huge sums in public funds especially in taking care of the upkeep and general welfare of the large number of security guards, medical staff and other categories of care givers that were always on the ground to ensure everything around him was fine.

This was aside the amount spent on their accommodation and providing relevant safety items to ensure all persons looking after the late Chief of Staff to President Buhari were not infected with the virus.

The private facility where he received care until his death also received 'special attention' from the Presidency, which ensured that all needed items for his recovery were in place.

All these, according to the official, ran into several millions of naira -- the exact amount which could not be confirmed at the time of this report.

"Forget what they are saying in top government circles, the Presidency actually spent big in trying to save Kyari’s life. They spent some good millions of naira in attempting to save his life.

"He is one of the persons President Buhari trusts the most in this world and he was willing to do anything to save Kyari's life.

"Throughout his stay in Lagos, the Presidency ensured that he got all the support he needed to defeat the virus by ensuring that funds were made available to foot any type of cost around his treatment and also ensure the safety and welfare of all those looking after him.

"As a prominent member of the cabal, there is no way the President or anyone in that circle was going to watch him spend personal funds to get a viable treatment for his situation. All needed support came from government," the official, said.

Until his death, Kyari was one of the most influential and powerful figures in President Buhari’s government.

Governors, ministers and other important personalities all had to first win him over before gaining access to the President.

"There is nothing happening around President Buhari that he was not involved in.

"He was a pillar of support to Buhari in too many ways. Both of them had come a long way.

"His death is a huge personal loss to Buhari, he is going to feel his absence a lot," the official said.

SaharaReporters also reliably gathered that the Nigerian Government made attempts to fly the late Kyari to London, United Kingdom, for treatment but had to shelve that idea especially after Coronavirus deaths rose astronomically in that space.

The UK has 14,576 deaths from 108,692 confirmed cases of the virus at the moment.

Kyari, like Buhari, had jetted out to the UK in the not too distant past to seek treatment for his health.

The doctors in the UK understand his medical history and know how to handle his case but the situation in Britain had prevented him from being flown there for attention.

Buhari on his part has a yet to be disclosed medical ailment and in fact spent five months in London in 2017 for treatment.

He has visited the UK several times more since that period for treatment.

There has been no official confirmation on whether Buhari has taken a test, but the president has since made repeated televised speeches imposing restrictions to curb the spread the virus.

Following Kyari's death on Friday, officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are now saddled with the responsibility of tracking down any persons, who may have had contact with him.

The agency earlier said that at least 6,000 Nigerians, who had contact with persons already infected were on the loose and being tracked.

“I don’t think the NCDC can trace everyone who shook hands with or met him at meetings and functions and that is why we asked everyone who were at those gatherings to self-isolate even if they don’t display any symptoms at all,” the official told SaharaReporters.

On Friday night, the NCDC announced that the country now had 493 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 17 deaths.

Already, experts have warned that there could be an explosion in these figures in the coming weeks especially with many Nigerians deliberately flouting the stay-at-home order put in place to curb the spread of the virus in many parts of the country.

However, following Kyari's death and importance in the decision making process of the President Buhari's administration, there are already concerns that governance may be gravely affected in the coming days and weeks -- at a time Nigeria desperately needs quality and responsive leadership.

Buhari has imposed a lockdown on Nigeria's economic hub Lagos, Ogun, a nearby state to Lagos and capital Abuja, while state governors have ordered a number of measures in other regions.

Economic consequences

The extension of the lockdown is expected to add to the hardship of millions of Nigerians living hand-to-mouth, often on less than one dollar a day.

Buhari said on Monday he was "fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage".

"But despite these realities, we must not change the restrictions," he added.

The government has pledged a series of support measures to ease the financial pain for the most vulnerable, but there have been widespread complaints that not enough is being done for those facing hunger.

"The vast majority of Nigerians depend on daily wages, they have to go out to get money and buy food to put it on the table for their families," Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital, Abuja, said.

"For the next two weeks, they are going to stay at home with no work and no chance of getting money."

Experts say the country of 200 million is highly vulnerable to the spread of the disease given its weak healthcare system and high population density.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that Africa has now more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19

A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the coronavirus, with the overall number of cases more than 19,800.

The World Health Organization on Friday noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths in the past week. But the WHO chief warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”

The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.

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