• Kyari died on Friday, April 17, 2020
  • News that Mr Kyari had tested positive for COVID-19 first broke on March 24, about 10 days after he returned from a trip to Germany
  • He was regarded as the most influential man in Buhari’s government
  • The well-educated Kanuri man from Borno, had a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick, and a bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge
  • Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo  after his return to Nigeria.
  • He was UBA CEO at a time


The Nigerian president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, is dead. He died on Friday from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after treatment in a Lagos hospital for almost three weeks.

Presidency spokesmen Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu announced Kyari’s death on Twitter:

This was confirmed by Garba Shehu in a separate tweet:

“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.”

Underlying health condition

Abba Kyari seeing off Buhari at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on February 7, 2020, as the president departs for the AU Summit in Ethiopia.

Kyari, who was in his late 60s and had underlying health problems including diabetes, was the top official aide to 77-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari and one of the most powerful men in the country.

News that Mr 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.

The late chief of staff confirmed the news about his status 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.

Amid speculations that he had been flown abroad for treatment, Kyari disclosed in the statement 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.

In his statement, he said; “I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures.”

“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 protocols the government has announced to self-isolate and quarantine,” he said.


Kyari was first appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2015 and reappointed on Buhari’s reelection in 2019.

His influence in government got a boost in 2019 when Buhari ordered his cabinet to channel all requests through Kyari’s office.

In 2017, following a leaked memo, Kyari became embroiled in a public argument with the Head of Civil Service, who was later removed from office and arrested. In 2020, in another leaked memo, Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser, accused Kyari of meddling in matters of national security.


A well-educated Kanuri man from Borno State, Abba Kyari graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick, and also received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge.

He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983.

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

Career profile

Before he delved into politics, Mr Kyari had a professional career as a lawyer and spent years in the banking industry, rising to become the Chief Executive Officer of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) at some point.

Kyari worked for the law firm Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria.

From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna.

In 1990, he served as a Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State.

From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the secretary to the board of African International Bank Limited, a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

He served as an executive director in charge of management services at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and was later appointed the chief executive officer.

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

His demise is the highest profile death so far in West Africa due to the disease.

You may also read: Coronavirus: UK Prime Minister discharged from hospital


NCDC mass testing by May

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it will begin mass testing for COVID-19 between May and September.

The centre disclosed this in its report detailing how it plans to scale up laboratory test for COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the NCDC, had earlier said there would be no mass testing for COVID-19 given the scarcity and expense of testing kits.


“The Federal Ministry of Health has prioritised testing as one of the key interventions to the COVID-19 response in Nigeria,” the report read.

“In the next one month, NCDC will expand testing capacity to six more molecular laboratories in the country, resulting in a total of 14 laboratories. Between May and September 2020; we will roll out mass testing”.

Nationwide strategy

“In order to contain the outbreak, the Government of Nigeria plans to rapidly scale diagnostic testing to cover all 36 States plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” the report read.

“Diagnostic testing is an essential response strategy to interrupt the transmission for the COVID-19 pandemic by informing patient management and identifying positive cases, which can then be isolated,” it said.

Four new deaths, 51 fresh cases

The NCDC announced four new deaths from complications of COVID-19 and 51 fresh cases of the disease in a tweet on Friday night.

This is the highest single-day toll confirmed in Nigeria.

There are currently 493 cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, 159 recoveries and 17 deaths.

On March 30, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a two-week lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja to check the spread of the disease.

Newsplus reported an extension of the lockdown by the president for a  further 14 days at the expiration of the initial two weeks.

NP/Tony Ekata/Monitored (With facts from Wikipedia)





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