Activities at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, have been shut down following an outbreak of COVID-19 at Nigeria’s seat of power, with many presidential aides testing positive, SaharaReporters has gathered.
Multiple sources told SaharaReporters that the spread of COVID-19 infections at the Aso Villa was traced to the installation ceremony of Yusuf Buhari, the only son of President Muhammadu Buhari as a district head (Talban Daura) in Katsina.
Sources added that following the outbreak, Buhari is closely being monitored by health officials as most of those who contracted the virus are “too close to him”.
“In the meantime, the President’s planned visit to Katsina has been cancelled,” one of the sources revealed to SaharaReporters on Monday.
The Emir of Daura, Alhaji Farouk Umar, on Saturday, December 18 turbaned Yusuf Buhari as Talban Daura and district head of Kwasarawa community, an event that was well attended by government officials.
Many presidential aides, prominent politicians and other dignitaries also attended the event.
Also in attendance at Yusuf’s turbanning were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, were equally in attendance.
Also in attendance were the Emir of Bichi in Kano State, Nasiru Ado Bayero; former Governor of Borno, Ali Modu Sheriff and members of the Katsina State House of Assembly.
However, President Buhari and his wife, Aisha, did not witness the ceremony as they were in Istanbul attending the third Turkey-African Partnership Summit at the time.
“Aso Rock has now been deserted over the number of President Buhari’s aides that have contracted COVID-19. Currently, President Buhari is being monitored by health officials. Plans for the President to go to Katsina have been stepped down for now.
“The recent spread of the virus at the Aso Rock was traced to his son, Yusuf’s coronation ceremony in Katsina,” another source told SaharaReporters.
Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Sunday said there was nothing abnormal in presidential aides testing positive for COVID-19.
There had been reports that some presidential aides including the Permanent Secretary in the State House, Tijani Umar; the President’s aide-de-camp (ADC), Yusuf Dodo; his chief security officer (CSO), Aliyu Musa, and his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu tested positive for COVID-19 and were in isolation.
Speaking on the development, Adesina, in an interview with Channels Television, said presidential aides are also humans and not immune to happenings around them.
“What I like to say is that presidential aides are just humans. They can fall sick. If anything happens to human beings, it can also happen to presidential aides,” he said.
“The fact that we are presidential aides does not make us immune to certain things. If there is a virus that is ravaging society, well, it can touch anybody.
“So Mallam Garba Shehu has confirmed that, yes, he tested positive but he said it’s mild. And I believe that by now, because it happened since Wednesday, by now, he should almost have beaten it if he has not beaten it already. There is no cause for alarm.”
But when he was asked how many presidential aides in the State House had contracted the virus, Adesina said he could not reveal the details as it is a private matter.
“That will not be within my purview to discuss, maybe if you get the presidential doctor or anybody on the medical side, they will tell you, I wouldn’t know because it is a private thing,” he added.
“If it happens to anybody, it’s between that person and possibly the doctor. It is not going to be general knowledge. So I may not be able to say.”
In the past few days, Nigeria has been reporting a steady increase in COVID-19 infections, in what has been confirmed as the fourth wave of the pandemic by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Last Wednesday, the country recorded 4,035 cases, the highest single-day count since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
On Friday, NCDC announced that 45 cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in the country.
As of Sunday, December 26, Nigeria recorded 237,561 cases of COVID-19 with 21,989 cases currently active, while 212,550 persons have been discharged and 3,022 deaths recorded.
SaharaReporters, New York