Not even Nigeria’s political elite can hide from coronavirus
At the end of June, the former governor of Nigeria’s Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, passed away due to complications from COVID-19. His death is one of the many victims from the global pandemic that is increasingly making its way into the echelons of the political elite.
For the first time in over a century, the world is dealing with a global pandemic that has left a path of distress in its wake. The coronavirus has no boundaries and has made its way across all levels of society and age.
It has even reached the biggest naysayers of the virus, including UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro after they both tested positive for COVID-19.
And in a country like Nigeria, where the political elite is known to travel abroad for healthcare (since governments continually ignore the dire state of the healthcare system at home) they too can’t hide from the pandemic.
COVID-19 brought border closures forcing those normally privileged members of Nigerian society to face an overloaded and frail healthcare system.
Politicians who have lost their lives
- Abba Kyari (67) – died on 17 April
Chief of Staff to President Buhari since 2015, Kyari was a crucial member of the ‘cabal’ running the country. His influence cannot be overstated – before him, the chief of staff post did not hold much power. However, anyone who wanted to see the president, including ministers and governors, had to go through him.
- Abiola Ajimobi (70) – died on 25 June
A former two-time governor of Oyo State, Ajimobi’s death was met with mixed reactions. Although members of the political elite publicly mourned him, the general public in his state was not as supportive of his time in power. From the closing of universities in his state to his unapologetic disregard for the needs of his citizens, Ajimobi was not widely liked, and unsurprisingly will not to be widely missed.
- Wahab Adegbenro (65) – died on 2 July
The Commissioner for Health in Ondo State, his death caused panic within the other state health officials, and the task force against COVID-19, which he had been leading. Although he had underlying health problems, Adegbenro insisted on attending to sick patients in his private hospital, which led to his being infected, and eventual death.
Politicians infected with coronavirus
A wide range of public officials have tested positive for the coronavirus, but have fortunately recovered:
- Governor of Abia State Okezie Ikpeazu
- Governor of Bauchi State Bala Mohammed
- Deputy Governor of Bauchi State Baba Tela
- Former Member of Benue State National Assembly Rebecca Apedzan
- Chief of Staff Benue State Terwase Orbunde
- Head of Service Benue State Veronica Onyeke
- Secretary to the State Government Benue State Anthony Ijoho
- Commissioner for Information Delta State Charles Aniagwu
- Secretary to the State Government Delta State Chiedu Ebie
- Governor of Ekiti State Kayode Fayemi
- Governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai
- Immediate past Commissioner of Works and Infrastructural Development Kano State Muazu
- Magaji (sacked for celebrating the death of Abba Kyari)
- Governor of Ondo State Rotimi Akeredolu
- Secretary to the State Government The State of Osun Wole Oyebamiji
- Governor of Oyo State Seyi Makinde (as well as four other members of his cabinet)
- Member of Yobe State House of Assembly Lawan Nguru
What does this mean for Nigeria?
Many are hoping that the federal and state governments post-pandemic will focus on improving the public health system, though others are more cynical, thinking things will soon return to normal.