The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, is dead. His age is unclear at this time.
Mr Kyari died of coronavirus. He received treatment at a private hospital in Lagos.
His death was announced by presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a Tweet early Saturday.
“Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, passes on. May God rest his soul. Amen. Funeral arrangements to be announced soon,” Mr Adesina wrote.
Mr Adesina later sent a short statement, saying, “The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari. The deceased had tested positive for 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.”
Mr Kyari had on March 23 tested positive to the novel coronavirus. On March 29, Mr Kyari issued a statement on his decision to move to Lagos for “further test and observation.”
The statement was the first official confirmation of his COVID-19 status since he was confirmed positive six days earlier.
In his statement, he said; “I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures.”
“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 protocols the government has announced to self-isolate and quarantine.”
The perceived secrecy surrounding the management of Mr Kyari’s medical condition further heightened the agitation by Nigerians for information on the whereabouts of arguably Nigeria’s most powerful presidential aide.
Some Nigerians on social media also speculated that Mr Kyari was flown abroad.
Although Mr Kyari and the government he served did not disclose the hospital where he received treatment, some sources suggested that he was treated at First Cardiology Consultant (FCC), a highly-sought-after private health facility located in Ikoyi, Lagos.
One of the sources who did not want to be named due to patient’s confidentiality guideline and sensitivity of Mr Kyari’s case told one of our reporters that the chief of staff later became very sick.
But First Cardiology Consultant Hospital was evasive when PREMIUM TIMES contacted it on Friday.
While Mr Kyari received treatment at a private hospital, the Minister of Health, Osagie Enahire, warned private hospitals against treating COVID-19 patients in their facilities. He said instead they should promptly refer suspected cases to the various public facilities across states dedicated to the management of the disease.
It is unclear Saturday morning if Mr Kyari’s death is among the four new deaths announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) late on Friday.
The NCDC said Nigeria’s death toll increased to 17 on Friday from 13 on Thursday.
Nigeria has 493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including the 17 deaths while 157 people have recovered and have been discharged.
Mr Kyari had travelled to Germany on March 7 and returned about a week later. He is suspected to have contracted the disease while there.
The chief of staff, who was in Europe alongside the power minister, Saleh Mamman, returned to the country on March 14.
The duo had travelled to Germany to meet with officials of Siemens AG in pursuit of the deal recently signed between the Nigerian government and the energy company towards improving electricity supply in the country.
Mr Kyari was first appointed chief of staff to the president in 2015 when Mr Buhari came to power. He was reappointed last year after his principal won reelection.
According to a statement by the presidency when he was first appointed, Mr Kyari held Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick in Law and Sociology.
He worked with the New Nigeria Development Company, New Africa Holdings, African International Bank, the United Bank for Africa, Unilever, and Mobil in various capacities over the years.