Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said on Saturday that the demise of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, should serve as proof to Doubting Thomases that it is real and a matter of life and death.
Mustapha, who is also Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, called on Nigerians to take the matter seriously and adhere to the advice of health authorities on how preventing the spread of the disease.
“There are very big lessons to learn from the death of Abba Kyari. One of the key lessons for me is that this thing is real and it has come home. How closer can it be to us than this? That is why I keep saying that we should not play with this issue it is not a joke,” Mustapha stated.
“It has come to ravage our people, ravage our health and ravage our wealth as a nation so we must take it more seriously and the advisory that have gone out about social distancing, washing of hands and staying at home are not punitive, they are meant for our good.
“We have seen it now, that it has come home to us. If we were thinking of people who had passed on as a result of COVID-19 from a distance, it is not far now. It is just like a brother or friend or a relative that has passed on. This is a man we worked with on a daily basis, you see him virtually every day so it’s a big lesson that our people should not joke with this, we must wash our hands, stay at home, use sanitisers and follow all the advisories religiously.”
The SGF, however, expressed confidence that Nigeria will beat the disease because of the measures put in place by President Buhari.
Mustapha described Kyari’s death as a personal loss to him, to President Buhari and a great loss to the nation, adding that the late Chief of Staff did a great job for Nigeria.
“It is a personal loss to me, the President and to the nation. I believe Malam Abba will be remembered for so many things. He has done a great job for the nation. Malam Abba was a very good man and very determined, intellectually upright and he had a lot of foresight.
“A lot of people didn’t understand Malam Abba but I worked with him for three years and I can tell you that he is a wonderful person, he is a good man; deep down in his heart, he always meant well and I looked up to him as a senior brother in the course of the work that we did in the last three years.”
Speaking further, the SGF said one thing people did not know about the late Chief of Staff was that he had a deep sense of humour and was passionate about President Buhari’s legacies.
“If I show you my phone, you will see some of the things that he was sending to me even when he was confirmed positive with COVID-19, he was still sending jokes. Every piece of joke he picked up in the internet he would send it to me.
“He demonstrated a high level of commitment to his job and he had a passion for the legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari and in everything he did, he never cared whose toes he stepped on, provided it was in the attainment of the legacies he believed President Buhari ought to leave.
“He was always very considerate. You might hold different opinions but he would drill the matter until he convinces you or you convince him,” the SGF said.