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Political, royal and academic personages fatally ravaged by COVID-19 pandemic in 2020



By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
In a rarity in a century, the world is being ravaged by a global pandemic that has left it’s trail distress, pain, dislocations and mass deaths. COVID-19 pandemic shook and devastated the world, thus overwhelming the health systems of even high-income, developed countries.
The virus was first reported in Wuhan, the capital and major business city of Hubei province, China, in December 2019. Ever since the disease has evolved and continued to be a serious emergency across the globe.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, having met the epidemiological criteria of having infected more than 100,000 people in at least 100 countries.
According to WHO, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath and difficulties in breathing with complications more pronounced in patients with underlying health conditions.
Just like every other country, Nigeria recorded an imported case from Italy on February 27, 2020, which sent waves of panic across the country. Since the first index case of the dreaded virus disease in Nigeria, the number of cases has been increasing.
Ten months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus, a total of 86,576 cases have been confirmed, 73,322 cases have been discharged and 1,278 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) revealed in its latest statistics. Also a total of 938,602 tests have been carried out as of December 30, 2020.
However, Nigeria’s political elite could not hide from COVID-19 as out of the 1,278 deaths recorded from the pandemic, prominent politicians including a former governor, lawmakers, among others were also on the list of casualties.
Below is a list of notable people in Nigeria that lost their lives as a result of the pandemic in 2020.
Abba Kyari
Top among the most prominent persons was the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari. Kyari’s death was received with mixed reactions from Nigerians, as it shook the country. Kyari was believed to be highly influential in the President Buhari led administration, and also a crucial member of the cabal running the country.
The late chief of staff tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24, 2020. The 67-year-old presidential aide battled the disease until his death in April 17, 2020, when he succumbed to complications arising from it at the First Cardiology Consultants in Ikoyi, Lagos State. He was said to have contracted the virus in Germany, where he visited for talks with officials of Siemens, a German energy firm, on issues around the power sector.
Mr.Abba Kyari
In a series of tweets paying tribute to the late Kyari, President Buhari wrote: “In political life, Abba never sought elective office for himself. Rather, he set himself against the view and conduct of two generations of Nigeria’s political establishment – who saw corruption as an entitlement and its practice a byproduct of possessing political office.”
He was buried at the Gudu Cemetery, Abuja, on April 18, 2020.

Abiola Ajumobi

Senator Abiola Ajimobi, a former two-term governor of Oyo State, also passed on due to complications he suffered from COVID-19, on June 25, 2020.
The 70-year-old former governor’s death was also met with mixed reactions, as only members of the political elite publicly mourned him. Most of the people in his state were alleged to be unperturbed with the news of his death due to his “unapologetic disregard for the needs of his citizens”.
Gov Ajimobi
While battling with the virus, Ajimobi was declared 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.

Sen. Buruji Kashamu

Senator Buruji Kashamu, also joined the list of prominent Nigerians who succumbed to the novel coronavirus.
Buruji, who was a member of the 8th Senate, died of complications from COVID-19 at the First Cardiology Consultants, Lagos, on August 8, 2020.
Kashamu, 62, served as a Senator representing Ogun-East in the eighth National Assembly under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Sen Buruji Kashamu
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who disclosed Kashamu’s death via his Twitter handle, wrote: “I have just lost my good friend of forever to #COVID19. Until his death, Sen. Buruji Kashamu and I were inseparable. He died today at First Cardiology Consultants, in Lagos. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I pray his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this heavy loss.”
Adebayo Sikiru Osinowo
Senator Adebayo Sikiru Osinowo, Popularly known as Pepperito, also died of coronavirus at same hospital where Kyari died; First Cardiology Consultants, Ikoyi, Lagos. Until his death, he was Senator under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), representing Lagos East at the Lagos State House of Assembly for 16 years. He died on June 15, 2020, at the age of 64.
Suleiman Adamu
On April 30, a member of the Nasarawa State house of assembly, Suleiman Adamu, died after a brief illness. However, the cause of his death was confirmed as COVID-19 few days after his demise, as sample taken from him returned positive for virus.
Confirming his death, the Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, stated that senator Adamu died from covid-19 complications.
“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,” the governor added.
Tunde Buraimoh
Tunde Buraimoh, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Kosofe Constituency II, was also a Covid-19 casualty. Buraimoh died on July 10, 20.
Until his death, he was the Chairman House Committee on Information, Security and Strategy, as well as a one-time chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Sources close to him said he might have contracted the virus from the late senator Osinowo, as he was said to be one of his confidants. The development, it was learnt, created fears and panic in the 40-member house.
Prof. Femi Odekunle
Prof. Femi Odekunle, an academic and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), is another notable Nigerian that died of COVID-19.
Odekunle, 77, Nigeria’s first Professor of Criminology, died at the COVID-19 Isolation Center in Gwagwalada, Abuja, on December 29, 2020 around 6:30 pm.
Until his death, Odekunle lectured at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State, as well as other universities.
He was the first Director of the United Nations African Institute for Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, and was chief project consultant on the Corruption Money Laundering Nexus in West Africa Survey for ECOWAS inter-governmental action task force against money laundering and terrorism financing in West Africa in 2009.
Odekunle is a writer of several research publications and a recipient of numerous awards.
Major Gen. Johnson Olubunmi Irefin
The latest casualty, Major General Johnson Olubunmi Irefin, former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division, Port Harcourt, died on December 10, 2020 following complications from COVID-19.
Army Spokesman, Brigadier-General Sagir Musa, who confirmed General Irefin’s death in a statement, disclosed that Irefin complained of discomfort from Day One of the Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja, which began on December 7, 2020.
According to Sagir, the General later complained of fever, headache and mild cough, symptoms usually associated with COVID-19, adding that further medical examination at Defence Medical Centre confirmed that he had the virus.
“He was later taken to Defence Medical Centre same day at about 21:25 hours having complained of fever, headache and mild cough.
“Medical history revealed that he was treated for malaria with parenteral artemether a week ago at 6 Division Medical Services and Hospital Port Harcourt where he was the GOC. He had fever but oxygen saturation was normal at 99%.Other vital signs were essentially stable on presentation.
“A working diagnosis of drug resistant malaria to rule out lobar pneumonia and COVID 19 infection was made. He was also placed on cefriaxone and COVID 19 test was requested.
“Consequently, in the morning of 8 December 2020, the fever and cough have subsided and he was eating well. On the same day (8 December 2020), he was discharged after his sample for COVID 19 test had been taken and was requested to self isolate pending the outcome of the test.
“On 9 December 2020, the result of the COVID 19 test conducted on him was positive. As a result, he was taken to 063 Nigerian Airforce Hospital Abuja where his SpO saturation was noted to be well reduced to between 55 – 60%. He was then immediately taken to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja by the Commander 063 NAF Hospital for further management.
“At the hospital, he was immediately admitted and placed on high flow oxygen. An initial improvement of 80 – 82% oxygen saturation was noticed. He was then commenced on Anti viral agent remdesivir based on the COVID 19 test result. Other treatment included the usual COVID 19 treatment cocktail.
Unfortunately, despite these efforts, at about 05:10 hours on Thursday 10th of December 2020, the Commander 063 NAF Hospital Abuja was informed that the senior officer desaturated again and eventually died.
“The cause of his death was reported as respirotary failure secondary to the complications of COVID 19 infection,” Sagir stated.
Dan Foster
Before his death, Daniel Leon Foster, was a big shot in the entertainment industry. Foster, popularly known as the Big Dawg, was an American radio personality and media consultant based in Nigeria. He was formerly an Idol judge, he also held a similar position with the Got Talent franchise.
The 61-old-old radio personality died June 17, 2020, at a hospital in Lagos a day after testing positive for the novel Coronavirus.
He worked with numerous radio stations in the US before relocating to Nigeria in 2000.
Foster was named Best Radio Presenter the following year, and won the Nigeria Media Merit Award for Best Radio Personality in 2003, 2004, and 2005. He was also honoured by the City People Awards as Media Person of the Year in 2004 and 2005.

However, there was a harvest of deaths in Kano and other parts of the North which the authorities denied were not COVID-19-related.

Among those killed in the peak of coronavirus included Professor Isa Hashim (86); a senior Counsellor in Kano Emirate Council and the Jarman Kano, the Emir of Rano, Dr Abubakar Tafida Ila II,  Prof. Aliyu Dikko of the Department of Physiology, Bayero University Kano, Balarabe Maikaba, a professor of the Department of Mass Communication at the university and 75-year-old Dr Sabo Kurawa, ex-Deputy Vice-Chancellor at BUK.Others are Prof.Ibrahim Ayagi (80), a foremost Nigerian Economist, Alhaji Dahiru Rabiu, former Grand Khadi (judge of the Sharia Court of Appeal) in the state and Dr Musa Umar Gwarzo as well as Mallam Maikano Bichi, Musa Tijjani (Editor of Kano-based Triumph Newspaper).

Adamu Isyaku Dal, a former Executive Secretary of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Salisu Lado, Hajiya Shamsiyya Mustapha, Hajiyaj Nene Umma, Alhaji Garba Sarki Fagge, Dr Nasiru Maikano Bichi, and Ado Gwanja’s mother.

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