How late Kyari’s supremacy battle with ex health minister affected preparations for COVID-19

How late Kyari’s supremacy battle with ex health minister affected preparations for COVID-19

On Friday, April 17th, the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first high profile victim in the person of Abba Kyari, the late Chief of Staff to Pres

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On Friday, April 17th, the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first high profile victim in the person of Abba Kyari, the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari who was buried yesterday Saturday, April 18th at Gudu cemetery, Abuja amidst flouting of several rules that guides both handling of coronavirus corpses as well as social distancing.

Perhaps the story would have been much different today if Kyari had allowed the Ministry of Health do what they were empowered to do in the first instance; ensure the health care system functions at an optimum level by equipping it with the necessary gadgets and health care essentials as well as ensuring the welfare package of health workers is commensurate with their output.

In early February, the Health ministry ran into some difficulties in the procurement of equipment and other essentials in preparation for the handling of the COVID-19 which has become a global pandemic. This difficulty which took root about two years ago, was as a result of a power tussle between the then Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole and the late Chief of Staff.

Kyari had stripped the Health ministry of powers to procure anything and transferred the power to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture because the Health ministry allegedly over spent the approved budget for it. And so for two years, the Agriculture ministry was responsible for procuring health equipment and essential items. What this meant is that for anything needed by the Health ministry for the health sector, it had to write to the Agriculture ministry for approval.

Well, one could argue that since he had a problem with Adewole, things would be reverted to status quo when a new Health Minister gets appointed. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case as the decision remained so even after a change of cabinet in 2019. On several occasions, the present Minster of Health, Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Olurunnimbe Mamora had met with the late Kyari to have his decision reverted but both met with brick walls.

This singular decision thus made it cumbersome to get adequately prepared for the coronavirus pandemic when it began to hit closer home because of the bottle necks and the bureaucratic nature of having to raise a memo from the Health ministry to the Agriculture ministry, debate the items to procured, vet them and finally get approval before they are purchased.