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OBITUARY: Achimugwu, Nigeria’s first coronavirus casualty, joined NNPC at 25

OBITUARY: Achimugwu, Nigeria’s first coronavirus casualty, joined NNPC at 25
March 23
15:57 2020

Suleiman Achimugwu, a trained chemical engineer rose from a junior cadre to top manager at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The deceased goes into history as the first recorded casualty of coronavirus.

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On March 23, after recording over 30 cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed Achimugwu as the first to die of the virus in the country. The 67-year-old was said to have had underlying medical issues and had been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Upon his return from the UK where he had gone to treat cancer, he was said to have gone into self-isolation as the COVID-19 symptoms persisted. 

JOINED NNPC IN 1978

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At age 25, Achimugu joined the NNPC in 1978 as chemical engineer II. Twenty years later, after serving in a couple of departments in the corporation, he was named general manager, Turn Around Maintenance and Projects in the refining and petrochemicals directorate at the NNPC’s corporate headquarters. 

In November 2003, he was appointed managing director of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and in 2007, he was appointed the group general manager of Renewable Energy Division of the NNPC.

A BRIDGE BUILDER… PASSIONATE BELIEVER IN KOGI 

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Achimugwu who hails from Kogi was described as one who was passionate about the state.  In a condolence message, Onogwu Muhammed, chief press secretary to Governor Yahaya Bello, said Achimugwu was a quintessential engineer and bridge builder. 

“The Kogi State Government received with shock today, the demise of one of the best chemical experts of his generation, a patriot and a passionate believer in the Kogi dream, Engr Suleiman Akowe Achimugwu,” the message read. 

“Achimugwu, a former Managing Director of PPMC died of COVID-19 on 22/03/2020 some days  after he arrived Nigeria from the UK according to a statement by a family member, Abubakar Achimugwu.   

“As a state, our hearts are with the family of the deceased and the people of Aloji in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State at this trying moment of losing a pillar of hope and quintessential engineer. 

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“Our consolation is that the Government of Kogi State has the opportunity to continue to serve the people in order to immortalise the ideology of service and selfless leadership that the late Engineer represented.”

The government added that it would ensure he is immortalised “to drive home the sterling rewards of service and patriotism that the late Achimugwu stood for.”

In a statement, the family advised Nigerians to maintain social distancing and restriction “as we all walk through this very difficult time”.

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