A number of prominent politicians are among 689 Nigerians who lost their lives to COVID-19, Daily Trust Saturday report shows.
Almost five months after the country confirmed its first case of the pandemic on February 27, 2020, a total of 30,748 cases have been recorded while 12,546 persons who had contracted the virus have been discharged and 689 deaths recorded, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCNC) daily update.
Confirmed cases have been on the increase despite the war waged against the pandemic by both federal and state governments. The country’s index, an Italian who returned from Milan, Italy, through the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos survived the virus.
In line with medical ethics, the identities of persons who had contracted the virus and those who lost their lives to it are not made public by the NCDC.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that of the deaths recorded as a result of the pandemic, there are many politicians and influential personalities. However, only the statuses of few of them were made known to the public.
Since March 23 when the first death, involving a prominent person, a 67-year-old Suleiman Achimugu, an engineer and former managing director of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), was recorded, prominent politicians including a former governor, ministers, lawmakers, party chieftains, among others, have lost their lives.
Top among them was the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari.
It all started from the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the country’s seat of power, when Kyari who was appointed Chief of Staff in August, 2015 by President Buhari tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24.
The 67-year-old presidential aide battled with the pandemic until April 17 when he succumbed to complications arising from it at the First Cardiology Consultants, a private hospital in Ikoyi area of Lagos State. He was buried at the Gudu cemetery, Abuja, on April 18.
The late influential presidential aide was said to have contracted the virus in Germany, where he visited for talks with top officials of Siemens, a German energy firm, on issues around the power sector.
Adebayo Sikiru Osinowo
Senator Adebayo Sikiru Osinowo (APC, Lagos East) reportedly died of coronavirus at the First Cardiology Consultants, the same hospital where Kyari died.
Osinowo who was a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly for 16 years, died on June 15 at the age of 64. On Wednesday, the Senate held a valedictory session in his honour, where his colleagues extolled his heroic contribution to the development of the country’s democracy.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the late Osinowo left a very deep impression that he was a friendly, jovial and unassuming person, even though he accomplished so much.
The immediate past governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, died on June 25 following complications arising from the pandemic at 70.
While battling with the virus, Ajimobi was declared as the acting chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), after the Court of Appeal upheld the suspension of its estranged former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Between 2003 and 2007, Ajimobi under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, served as Senator representing Oyo South. In 2011, he won the Oyo State governorship election under the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was re-elected for a second term in 2015, making him the first governor in the history of Oyo State to complete a two-term in office.
On April 30, a member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Suleiman Adamu died after a brief illness. It was days after his death that the sample taken from him returned positive for COVID-19.
The state governor, Abdullahi Sule, confirmed that the deceased died from COVID-19 complications. Governor Sule said: “The deceased was admitted at Federal Medical Centre, (FMC) Keffi. He had symptoms of coronavirus, his sample was taken, but before it was out, he died and was buried. His result came out positive on Saturday (May 3).”
Two Borno lawmakers
Two members of the Borno State House of Assembly; Umar Audi Jauro and Wakil Bukar, were also said to have died of coronavirus pandemic in May. Reports from the state quoted sources as confirming that the deceased lawmakers died due to the pandemic.
A staff of Gombe Government House, Shuaibu Danlami, a director for special services and politics at the office of the SSG and a member of the state taskforce on COVID-19 died of the virus on May 31.
His death forced the state government to shut down the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the Government House Clinic for disinfection. The chairman of the COVID-19 taskforce in Gombe, Professor Idris Mohammed confirmed that the deceased died of coronavirus.
Ondo State Commissioner of Health, Wahab Adegbenro has died of COVID- 19 complications.
A family source told The Cable, an online news platform that Adegbenro died at the state’s infectious diseases hospital on July 2 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The late Adegbenro is a native of Ilara-Mokin, in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state.
Aminu Adisa Logun
Aminu Adisa Logun, was the Chief of staff to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State until Tuesday, July 7, when he died of COVID-19 complications.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, “Logun, an industrialist, a public intellectual, and an elder statesman, died Tuesday evening of complications from COVID-19. He died only a few hours after the test of his result returned positive.”
Daily Trust Saturday reports that a seven-day mourning declared in honour of the late Chief of Staff would end on Monday. Logun was a pioneer industrialist in Ilorin and an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos. He hailed from Ilorin, the state capital.
The latest COVID-19 casualty in the political scene was a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Tunde Buraimoh who died early hours of yesterday (Friday).
The cause of his death was yet to be formally announced as at the time this report was filed but one of his colleagues said he died of COVID-19.
Buraimoh, a one-time Chairman of Kosofe Local Government was serving his second term in the legislative house and was the chairman, Committee on Information, Security and Strategy.
Sources close to him said he might have contracted it from late the Senator Osinowo as he was one of his confidants. They were both political leaders in Lagos East Senatorial District especially Kosofe.
“We have been battling it for a while now before his sudden demise. It is so sad we eventually lost him. It is assumed he might have contracted the virus from the late Pepperito with whom you are much aware he was a close confidant, it is confirmed he died of COVID-19,” a lawmaker confirmed.
The development, it was learnt, created fears and panic in the 40-member house.
Rising cases among VIPs worries FG
On Monday, the Federal Government has expressed concern over the high rate of positive cases of the COVID-19, especially among Very Important Persons (VIPs).
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, expressed the concern at the briefing of the PTF.
He said the rising cases among VIPs had a direct impact on governance and the nation’s security
Our correspondent reports that some sitting governors, including that of Kaduna, Bauchi, Oyo, Ondo and Abia states were among the VIPs who have recovered from the virus.
Why VIPs dying – Medical practitioners
A medical practitioner, Dr Egbogu Stanley, said most of the politicians that died had chronic illnesses and have been managing them for a long time via travels abroad or undergoing expensive treatments.
He, however, said the rate at which politicians were dying from COVID-19 was no different from the rate ordinary Nigerians have lost their lives to the disease.
He said people tend to note that of politicians because they were well known or public figures.
He said that the country was experiencing community transmission of the disease and everyone, including doctors and other health workers were at risk.
Dr Egbogu who is also the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), explained that underlying illnesses, age and life expectancy were also contributing to the death of politicians from the disease.
“We know that coronavirus tends to kill people with underlying or already existing illnesses, so when such a person contracts COVID-19, the person is more likely to die.
“You rarely see young people becoming top politicians in this country. Most of them (politicians) are above 50 or 60 years and have illnesses they have been managing with their money. COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, if the person has diabetes or High Blood pressure, for instance, it worsens the illness and could lead to death.
“Other people are dying but you don’t get to hear about it like those who are known. That is why it seems it is people who are popular or well to do that are dying from the disease, “Dr Egbogu said.
Similarly, the Head, Department of Medicine and a consultant nephrologist at the Wuse District Hospital, Dr Kwaifa Ibrahim, held that not only politicians were dying of COVID-19.
“If any common man dies, it doesn’t make news but if any politician dies, the news goes viral because he or she is holding one political office or the other. He or she is in control of the affairs of the country one way or another,” he said.
He said most of those who died of COVID-19 had underlining illnesses such as; hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, kidney diseases, liver disease, cancer and others.
The consultant nephrologist also said, because of lack of medical facilities and availability of some quality drugs to manage some health situations, fatalities are recorded amongst the influential persons.
Dr Kwaifa also noted another issue that causes fatality is the restriction of movement that is not allowing people to go for treatment or get their medications, which are imported.
He said not being able to travel outside the country for medical treatment may contribute to death recorded through COVID-19, adding that these politicians are the ones that can seek medical care anywhere in the world because they can afford it, but the restriction of movement had dealt a big blow on that aspect.