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As Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, was one of the most powerful members of Buhari's administration /Photo: PTN

Nigeria: President Buhari’s top adviser dies of coronavirus

A very powerful member of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has died. The Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, died on Friday, more than two weeks after he tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Mr Femi Adesina, on Twitter in the early hours of Saturday, said Kyari died on Friday.

The terse statement issued at about 12.48AM on Saturday read:“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.”

Where Kyari died is yet to be officially revealed as there had been speculations that he was flown abroad after his health deteriorated.

News that Kyari had tested positive for COVID-19 first broke on March 24, about 10 days after he returned from a trip to Germany during which he met with officials of Siemens in Munich on Nigeria’s electricity expansion programme.

Kyari confirmed the news in a statement on March 29, the same day President Buhari made his first nationwide broadcast on the pandemic and announced a two-week lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

In his statement, Kyari revealed that he would be transferred to Lagos from the FCT for treatment and expressed the hope that he would recover and return to work soon.

At the time, Kyari said he felt well and did not exhibit any signs of the disease, which has now infected 493 people in the country and claimed 17 lives, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

A Kanuri from Borno, Mr Kyari was one of President’s Buhari’s closest allies.

According to Wikipedia, Kyari graduated from the University of Warwick, UK, with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1980.

He also received a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Cambridge and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983 after attending the Nigerian Law School.

In 1984, he obtained a master’s degree in Law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Programme for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994, respectively.

He was at various times Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State, secretary to the board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International, executive director in charge of management services at the United Bank for Africa, and later appointed the bank’s chief executive officer.

In 2002, he was appointed a board director of Unilever Nigeria, and later served on the board of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.

He was named Chief of Staff to the President in 2015 and was reappointed to the position after Buhari’s re-election for a second term in 2019. Kyari was one of the most powerful members of President Buhari’s cabinet to whom ministers even reported. His death will throw the presidency into confusion as the jostle for his replacement is expected to be fierce.

Kola Tella with agency reports

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