On Monday 18th March, there were some media reports that America’s richest man Bill Gates cancelled his scheduled March 27 official visit to Nigeria in response to the controversial pardon granted by President Goodluck Jonathan to two ex-convicts, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama.
He was due in Nigeria on 27th and 28th March to meet President Jonathan, state governors and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health concerning the aggressive polio eradication campaign his Bill and Melinda Foundation is undertaking in the country.
A source told Premium Times on Monday morning: “The body language of Washington D.C. does not support his travelling to Nigeria. The thinking here is that the Nigerian government has high tolerance level for corruption and should be ostracized in all ways possible.”
But in another report, James Whittington, a senior communications officer, (Africa and Middle East) with the foundation told Premium Times that the reasons their sources gave for the cancellation of Gates’ visit are false.
Similarly, the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati said the cancellation of Gates’ trip was not connected to the Presidential pardon.
Abati told Channels TV that Gates’ travels are often dependent on the schedules and availability of many other people and partners and that in this particular case, because these other people and partners will not be available at the time he is presently scheduled to visit Nigeria, they have to reschedule the visit.
Although it comes as a relief that his cancelled trip was not connected to the Presidential pardon, it should not be ruled out that majority of Nigerians are still upset about it and that the pardon might result in more losses than gains for Nigeria especially with respect to beneficial international relationships.
Photo Credit: www.billgatesstrategies.com