The presidency has been reacting to report attributing the cancellation of Bill Gates’ visit to Nigeria to the controversy over state pardon given former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and some other Nigerians.
The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, who spoke to journalists on the issue, said that he read the report in some sections of the media insinuating that Mr Gates has cancelled his planned visit to Nigeria because of the recent pardon granted some Nigerians.
He said President Jonathan is in touch with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and that this report is not true and that it exists only in the imagination of the writers.
According to Mr Abati the foundation said that Mr 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.
They also said the rescheduling has nothing to do with politics and that it has nothing to do with any domestic situation in Nigeria.
According to the president’s spokesman, the foundation said that Mr Gates has visited Nigeria many times in the past and he will continue to visit the country because his focus is working with the Federal government and partners in Nigeria to eradicate polio.
He said, “Nigerians should note that President Jonathan and Mr Bill Gates have met several times in the past and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is one of the major partners working with Nigerian government to ensure that polio is completely eradicated by 2015.
“What we will like to reassure people is that those who are always looking for opportunity to pull down the country should realise the fact that this country belongs to all of us and that nobody will gain anything by trying to pull down the country.
“Instead, Nigerians should do everything possible to promote their own country regardless of whatever differences that may exist among us: ethnic, religious, sectarian, whatever.”