Bare days after it emerged that Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, had contracted coronavirus (COVID-19), online news medium SaharaReporters have unearthed facts on how he disregarded safety warnings by officials of Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, and the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus headed by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
According to the news site, top officials of the ministry and NCDC said the whole Coronavirus crisis in the Presidency and indeed Nigeria’s power circle could have been totally different today if Kyari, one of the most influential figures in Buhari’s regime, had not deliberately flouted safety instructions after returning to the country following visits to Germany and Egypt earlier this month – countries with high number of infected individuals.
After his return to Nigeria on March 13, it is understood that that Kyari, who has a history of diabetes and is in his 70s, refused to observe the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period, instead going about his normal activities and subjecting dozens of persons including ministers, state governors and Aso Villa staff to the risk of contracting the virus. Already three of his staff had tested positive for the virus.
He attended the wedding of the son of the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammad Adamu, in company with Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and business tycoon, Aliko Dangote.
Two days later, Kyari was seen at a meeting of All Progressives Congress governors with President Buhari.
He also had an encounter with the embattled National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
On March 17, Kyari led a delegation to Okene, Kogi State, to commiserate with Governor Yahaya Bello over the loss of his mother where he shook hands with Bello and had close contacts with several guests.
That same day after returning to Abuja, Kyari attended a briefing session by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council led by Prof Doyin Salami. Both men had close contact and even took pictures together.
On March 18, Kyari attended the Federal Executive Council meeting while the next day he was at the inauguration of the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee.
Sources say Kyari moved round these places despite strict warnings by the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus that all persons returning from high risk countries for the virus like Germany and United Kingdom should self-isolate for 14 days.
“It is not the first time that we have seen him act in this manner.
“He flouts the law regularly and he has always gotten away with it until now,” a source told SR in reference to Kyari.
Ironically, in a leaked memo dated March 21, 2020 addressed to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Kyari expressed displeasure at the refusal of legislators to undergo Coronavirus checks at the country’s airports upon arriving Nigeria.
According to him, this could jeopardise all efforts put in place by government to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
In the memo, Kyari had said, “It has been brought to the attention of the Honourable Minister of Health recently that some members of the House of Representatives are refusing to subject themselves to medical screening at airports.
“As you are aware, these screenings are our primary line of defence and refusal by any citizen to subject to these tests is a threat to our nation.
“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to direct all members of the House of Representatives who returned to Nigeria from foreign trips to report themselves to the nearest NCDC test centre with immediate effect.”
Following his rather curious disregard for laid down rules, NCDC and Ministry of Health officials fear that tracing all possible contacts with him and curtailing the further spread of the virus could be tougher than initially expected.
“I don’t think the NCDC can trace everyone who shook hands with or met him at meetings and functions and that is why we are asking everyone who were at those gatherings to immediately self-isolate even if they don’t display any symptoms at all,” the source told SaharaReporters.
Following Kyari’s infection and contact with Buhari, SaharaReporters on Tuesday exclusively reported that the Presidential Intensive Care Unit was activated for the number one citizen’s use especially after he started coughing severely and caused panic among Presidency officials.
Of bigger consequence is the fact that with Kyari’s current ordeal, there are fears that decision making on key issues in government could be suspended, slowing down the progress of the country in almost every aspect.
This is as a result of the key role he plays in government, with many considering him the head of the so-called ‘cabal’ that calls the shot at Nigeria’s seat of power.
So far, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is put at 51, after fresh cases in Lagos, Abuja and Rivers State.