Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and U.S. President Barack Obama have expressed shock over the death of Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Adebowale Adefuye, who died at a hospital Thursday in Washington, D.C. after suffering a heart attack, according to Nigerian newspapers.

Buhari described Adefuye, a historian who was appointed ambassador to the U.S. by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, as “an ardently patriotic diplomat who put higher national interest above partisan loyalty,” the Daily Trust reported Sunday. Members of Nigeria’s main opposition faction, the People's Democratic Party, also expressed shock over the death of Adefuye, who was recalled after Buhari took office in May. Adefuye was waiting to handover his post to a new ambassador before he fell ill last week.



Adefuye was credited for convincing the U.S. to remove Nigeria from its list of countries of interest. His last assignment as Nigeria’s ambassador to the U.S. was receiving Buhari and his presidential delegation in Washington, D.C. during the Nigerian leader’s visit to the White House in July, which was largely hailed as a success.

"The success of this visit speaks to Ambassador Adefuye's skill as a diplomat. His tenure helped significantly strengthen the U.S.-Nigerian partnership,” Obama’s spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement Friday to the Nigerian government and Adefuye’s family, according to Leadership newspaper. “On behalf of the people of the United States and President Obama, we express our deepest condolences to his wife and his family" the statement read in part.

Since taking office, Buhari has moved to clean out officials from the previous administration, which has been accused of widespread corruption and graft. Adefuye supported Jonathan and the People's Democratic Party ticket during the general elections in March. Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress party, declared victory against Jonathan in the presidential poll by a couple million votes.