Ailments that complicated Chief of Staff’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.


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