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Issues around Abba Kyari’s death

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Kyari (left); Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and President Buhari at the Federal Executive Council Meeting on March 18, 2020.


Former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari died of Coronavirus, just 26 days after it was announced that he has tested positive to the virus. Ironically, despite there were public facilities Coronavirus patients were being attended to in Abuja, he was moved to Lagos. This, it was said, was done to ensure he enjoyed the best of healthcare.

But this generated a lot of buzz, as many Nigerians, especially Lagos residents, wondered why he would be moved to Lagos, almost immediately that he was announced to be positive of the virus. The argument was why move him to Lagos when there were yearly budgetary allocation for health and health facilities in Abuja including the Aso Rock Clinic.

Despite the protest on social media, he was moved to Lagos, but he did not end up in any of the two public facilities where Coronavirus patients were being attended to in Lagos. Though information were not forthcoming from government about where he would be admitted in Lagos, there were speculations that he would be admitted in Lagos State government facility, especially as the state government has shown it has some capacity to handle coronavirus patients, as some patients were discharged after going through treatment provided by the state government.

This is more so that the deaths from Coronavirus recorded in Lagos State, before Kyari was brought in, where from private facilities and not from public facilities domicile in Lagos. When he was finally brought in, he was not taken to the Lagos State facility. So, many thought he had been admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) since it was the second facility in Lagos that Coronavirus patients were being treated officially. This is aside; LUTH is a Federal Government facility. Findings were conducted around that, then it dawn on all that he had been admitted in a private facility, as he was not near LUTH. This compelled journalists to ask the state government where he was admitted.

When the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi was asked about the location of Kyari, few days after he was brought into Lagos, during a press briefing, he said, “I’m not aware of the Chief of Staff’s itinerary, so I don’t know where he is, we chat on WhatsApp but I cannot tell where he is from our chat.

“We are exchanging information but I haven’t asked him for his location. He seems well and happy and we are exchanging information on strategic issues. It has been a long time we talked about his health, I presume he has made a full recovery.”

Also, days after, the same question was posted to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, during the Presidential task force briefing in Abuja. Ehanire said Kyari’s location was not important, as the President’s chief of staff has a right to privacy.

The minister said: “I want to repeat that every person, including each of you here, has a right to privacy. Each of you has the right to tell anyone whether you have been screened or whether you have tested negative or positive and that right is also granted to those who are in public office or VIPs.

“Some VIPs have chosen to disclose by themselves; some have authorised that their own result can be announced and I announced mine, the SGF gave me the permission to announce his, the Vice-President also gave us permission.”

Not until he died on Friday that the private hospital he was allegedly admitted came up to limelight. This is contrary to what happens in developed climes where information about the activities of their leaders is made available even without the public asking. For instance, British citizens were provided updates about their Prime Minister, Boris Johnson as he was being treated of coronavirus.

Also, surprisingly, despite the warning from regulatory agencies, Kyari was admitted and died in a private facility. The Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Government and the NCDC had warned that private hospitals were not yet allowed to treat COVID-19 patients. The State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said although cases of the novel coronavirus diseases were rising in the state, the rate of increase was still within the pace health workers can control even as he disclosed that no fewer than 2,293 persons are being traced in Lagos.

Though Lagos State government’s position came after recording some Coronavirus fatalities; as a good number of the 13 coronavirus deaths recorded in Lagos were persons who died of the disease in private facilities. Nonetheless, four days before Kyari was diagnosed to be Coronavirus positive; on March 20, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, warned private hospitals not to treat cases of Coronavirus, because it is highly contagious and very risky to their medical personnel and other patients.

Rather, the minister advised private hospitals to refer any suspected case of COVID-19 to the designated centres for diagnosis and treatment. He warned that being a highly contagious disease, private hospital do not have the required facilities and laboratory to handle it, and if they don’t have the protocol for treatment, they could easily infect their staff and other patients.

Ehanire said: “Private hospital, yes, we know that private hospitals offer 50 to 60 percent consultation to Nigerians which is a very powerful factor and very powerful partners in the healthcare system. We know that a good number of patients first of all report to the private centers.

“Most of the private centers don’t have the facilities to treat a highly infectious disease like that and they will definitely not have a laboratory for it. But in that case, we urge private hospitals if they have suspected cases, to refer them for diagnosis. If you can hold him in isolation while getting your result, fine otherwise you can refer them right away to the center for isolation of suspected cases; get the test done and let the patient be treated in a designated Centre.


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