Bill Gates confirms cancellation of trip to Nigeria but denies Alamieyeseigha’s link

Bill Gates.... Photo Credit: billgatesstrategies.com

The headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has confirmed America’s richest man, Bill Gates, has cancelled his scheduled March 27-28 visit to Nigeria as exclusively reported by this newspaper this morning.

“Yes he has cancelled it,” a spokesperson for the foundation told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone. “As you know he goes there once a year and he is actively engaged there. But this time, we have to rework his schedule. Nothing is certain yet about when next he will visit. As soon as we are able to arrange a new schedule, we will let you know.”

When asked whether the cancellation of the visit had anything to do with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the U.S. over the controversial pardon granted ex-convicts Diepreye Alamieyeseigha  and Mohammed Bulama,  the official said, “No” and then added that she would request one of her colleagues to get back to us.

Almost immediately, James Whittington, a 
senior communications officer, (Africa and Middle East) with the foundation called to say the reasons our sources gave for the cancellation of Mr. Gates’ visit are false.

“Changes to Bill’s travel schedule sometimes happen for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Whittington said. ” As you know, he has visited Nigeria often, he follows closely Nigeria’s polio eradication and routine immunization efforts and is always keen to see the work of our partners in the field. He looks forward to visiting Nigeria when his schedule will permit.”

He however did not say why the billionaire’s schedule has changed at this time.

Mr. Gates  had planned to be in Nigeria March 27 and 28 this month to meet President Goodluck 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.

But the trip, authoritative diplomatic sources said, was cancelled, two days after the U.S. government expressed disappointment with its Nigerian counterpart for pardoning convicted money launderers and warned it might cut aid meant for the country.

When we put the claim by the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation to our sources, one of them said, “This is a sensitive issue, so you don’t expect the foundation to admit to you that Bill is staying off because Washington requested him to do so. Americans are smarter than that.”

Read our earlier story below.

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America’s richest man, Bill Gates, has cancelled his scheduled March 27  official visit to Nigeria, in response to the controversial pardon granted by President Goodluck Jonathan to ex-convicts Diepreye Alamieyeseigha  and Mohammed Bulama, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.

Mr. Gates was due in Nigeria March 27 and 28 to meet President Goodluck 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.

That trip, authoritative diplomatic sources said, has now been cancelled, two days after the U.S. government expressed disappointment with its Nigerian counterpart for pardoning convicted money launderers and warned it might cut aid meant for the country.

“I can confirm to you that Mr. Gates won’t be coming as scheduled,” one of our sources told PREMIUM TIMES 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.”

Our sources said Mr. Gates has already instructed his staff to inform the Nigerian presidency, the secretariat of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Federal Ministry of Health that he was no longer coming.

Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, did not answer or return calls seeking comment. Contacted, the Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Asishana Okauru, said he would have to check with his staff whether any such communication had come from Mr. Gates’ office. He did not answer or return subsequent calls. Mr. Gates’ office is not opened as at the time of this report as calls were unanswered.

But checks by this newspaper indicate that the U.S. government has dissuaded Mr. Gates from coming to Nigeria.

“The State Department has advised him that Nigeria is not conducive for such visit at this time,” another source said.  “We hope that the Nigerian government will get the message and return to the path of sanity.”

The controversial pardon granted Messrs Alamieyeseigha and Bulama had on Friday sparked fierce diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United States,  with the Americans threatening to punish Nigeria over Mr. Jonathan’s action and Nigeria accusing the Americans of meddlesomeness.

“We see this as a setback for the fight against corruption, and also for our ability to play the strong role we’ve played in supporting rule of law and legal institution-building in Nigeria, which is very important for the future of the country obviously,” State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, had told reporters in Washington.

“We have made clear to the Nigerians that this puts a question mark on the kinds of work that we’ve been trying to do with them.”

The U.S. is the world’s top donor. In 2012, it spent about $226 million on health and governance programmes in Nigeria. And about $600million has been requested for 2013, according to U.S. government data. That is apart from what American private foundations such as Mr. Gates’ spend on Nigeria’s government and non-governmental organisations.

Mr. Gate is the biggest foreign supporter of the campaign to eradicate polio in Nigeria and has worked consistently with the Nigerian authorities since 2009 over the matter. His foundation has developed a six-year strategy through 2018 that will help combat polio in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan and donated $300m to the global fight against polio last year.

The bulk of that money is meant for Nigeria which currently has the highest cases of polio in the world.  Mr. Gates’ efforts has seen improvements which helped Pakistan reduce the number of polio cases from 198 in 2011 to 56 in 2012; and Afghanistan from 80 to 35 during the same period.

The situation in Nigeria worsened during the same period,  increasing from 62 in 2011 to 119 in 2012.

Jeff Raikes, CEO of the  Gates Foundation visited Nigeria in November 2012.  During that visit, his foundation entered into a four-year alliance with the Dangote Foundation which promised to provide funding, equipment and technical support to the Kano state government to strengthen polio immunisation.

He had scheduled this March’s visit to consolidate that alliance, meet with President Jonathan, state governors and other stakeholders with a view to generally revving  up the war against the pandemic.

 

 


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  • Well, Premium Times should continue trying to wreck any image we still have internationally. Do you think Bill Gate is the kind of person to be told where to go? You guys are just rediculing yourself and the country in the process. The statement “we Americans are smarter” speaks volume and its high time you guys stopped this kindergarten investigative journalism…

  • Afam

    Very foolish set of journalists at premium times…your pay masters will get tired someday.

  • Afam

    You guys may not like my comment,if you try to remove it again,i will sue this junk media journalism firm,i don’t blame you people i blame GEJ that signed the FOI BILL which gave both the rat and cat the authority to publish junk stories against this country in any manner they wish..

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    Acute Third world mentality. Who will believe it is the same Bill Gates, fined millions of dollars for anti-trust laws violations and other malpractices? Shaking my head.

  • u people are liars–for how long will u continue to work for boko haram, buhari and tinubu while they kill with impunity-in the fulani north-u link the man Bill Gates visit to Alams-dont your editors know that u cannot link humanitarian work to politics–how can a man visit in spite of the murder of 11 nurses and 2 philippino doctors–was he not here some few months ago? God will continue to guide jonah till we split -enough is enough–the scots are gone-what about the SS–The fewer the merrier

  • Okelve Dauda

    Premium Times is a security risk, the sooner the intelligence personnel close down this illegitimate apology of journalism the better for peace in this country, all they do is sit down and write lies quoting false sources

    • Ide4u

      The truth is bitter! Who will come to this hellhole called Nigeria?

  • angel

    This is journalism at its worst. Yesterday, my instincts told me the story was false. Now you have confirmed that in your bid to be sensational, you will publish all sorts of garbage. The sad thing is that several papers followed suit this morning. Premiumtimes, we all recognise that we have issues as a country and with our leadership, but we must learn to exercise restraint, and sift the wheat from the chaff when information comes our way.

  • JI

    Premium Times, The Nation and Sahara Reporters have become so cheap as to broadcast un- imagined Diplomatic Row and Bill Gates refusal to visit Nigeria because of Alamiesegha’s pardon. I condem the pardon from my heart, but lets not degrade ourselves to the level you have gone.

    How we fool ourselves before the world. Did any country have a row with the USA when Lewinsky’s case was on and they refused to impeach Clinton?

    What kind of irresponsible opposition do we have here?

    Anyway, between Tinubu who stole states investment on VMobile with Ibori and Attah on one side and Anenih who stole works ministry’s funds on the other hand, i do not know who is better – both leaders of the 2 biggest parties.

    I hate PDP. The so-called APC is another gathering of rogues too (Ajimobi’s wife was arrested abroad, Fayemi was arrested abroad all with monies stolen from their states)

  • JI

    234 Next also refused to publish positive criticisms like the ones Premium Times has started witholding before they went under.

    Let your viewers know you are sorry for feeding them with faulty publications and not delete their comments.

    This is not journalism but political manoeuvrings. If that is the case, we will all stop reading you! We all have social media networks to circulate our protests and exits from your medium!