Abba Kyari, the trusted chief of staff to Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has died from complications related to Covid-19 after a nearly month-long battle with the virus.
Kyari had widely been seen as one of the three most powerful people in Africa’s largest economy and said to have the complete trust of Buhari. Some had even described him as the defacto head of the government because in a country where the presidency holds an inordinate amount of centralized power and government funds, deciding who has access to the president accords immense power and influence.
And even with a political culture overweighted in outsized egos, Nigeria’s government ministers and state governors had to learn to work by going through Kyari before getting to the ultimate “oga”.
The late chief of staff was said to have contracted the coronavirus on an official trip to Germany in March. He was confirmed with the virus on Mar. 23, though it was revealed on Mar. 30. At the time, he was said to be in high spirits and widely expected to recover. But there have now been reports Kyari had underlying conditions.
Kyari’s passing is a major blow to the Buhari presidency. It leaves a gaping hole in the administration as it juggles responding to a Coronavirus outbreak—which is likely to tip Nigeria’s economy into its worst recession in 30 years according to the IMF—and battling multiple insecurity challenges, including a devastating Boko Haram insurgency that has left the military stretched.