The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, died yesterday, weeks after testing positive to the deadly coronavirus.
The Presidency announced his death in the early hours of today.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said in a statement that funeral arrangements for the deceased would be announced shortly.
Adesina said the Kyari who had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19 had been receiving treatment.
The statement titled, ‘Chief of Staff to President, Abba Kyari, Passes on’, reads: “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.”
Kyari would be the first senior public figure to die after battling with the coronavirus.
This is even as the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday announced 51 new cases in Nigeria, raising the number of confirmed cases to 493, while the total number of death for the country rose to 17.
The late chief of staff to the President had left Abuja for Lagos on Sunday, March 29, 2020 to undergo additional tests and observation.
He tested positive to COVID-19 after returning from an official visit to Germany, following which many government functionaries, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo went into self-isolation.
Sources said the news of his death yesterday shocked many in the Presidential Villa.
Daily Trust Saturday also gathered from sources that the remains of the late chief of staff were being prepared for evacuation from Lagos, as arrangements for his burial were also being finalized.
A detailed statement for the burial would be issued early today, sources said.
Buhari appointed him Chief of Staff in August, 2015.
His last words to Nigerians
Kyari, who tested positive for the COVID-19, said in a letter that he decided to move to Lagos not only based on medical advice but also as a precautionary measure.
He said in the letter titled, “Health Status of Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari” that he made his personal care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures.
The letter dated March 29, 2020, read: “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 self-isolate and quarantine.
“I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures. Like many others that will test also positive, I have not experienced high fever or other symptoms associated with this new virus and have been working from home. I hope to be back at my desk very soon. I have a team of young, professional, knowledgeable and patriotic colleagues, whose dedication has been beyond the call of duty, who continue to work seven days a week, with no time of the day spared. We will continue to serve the President and people of Nigeria, as we have for the past five years.
“I want to thank all our fantastic, talented and brave healthcare professionals, working across the country in such a difficult time; all the good Samaritans looking out for the most vulnerable in our communities; the key workers that will keep our country going through this; friends and family and often strangers, who have sent me such warm wishes and displayed such a generosity of spirit.
“We should be calm, measured and diligent – be meticulous in your hygiene, especially with cleaning hands, if possible stay at home or keep your distance. Listen to good advice from the proper authorities: pay no heed to quack cures or fake news from social media. President Buhari will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of our people and get the country back on its feet as soon as possible.
“Like the whole world, we are dealing with a new disease. Our experts are learning more all the time about coronavirus, what it does and how we can combat it. What we do know is that while some may become very sick, many others who contract the virus will not, and may have no symptoms at all. This is a disease that recognises no difference between north and south, men or women, rich or poor. We are all in this together.”