The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati has come out to clarify that the American billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates did not cancel his trip to Nigeria, but rather, rescheduled it.
Abati said in an interview granted yesterday in Abuja that media reports insinuating that Gates cancelled his trip in reaction to the presidential pardons granted to former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and four others were erroneous.
He said, “I have read the report in some sections of the media insinuating that Mr Bill Gates has cancelled his trip because of the recent pardon granted some Nigerians. I am in touch everyday with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and I can say that this report is not true and it exists only in the figment of the imagination of the writers.
“The Foundation said that Mr Gates’ travels are often dependent on the schedules and availability of many other people and partners, and it is in this particular case, because these other people and partners would be unavailable at the time he is presently scheduled to visit Nigeria, they have to reschedule the visit.”
He added that the rescheduling had nothing to do with politics or the domestic situation in Nigeria, as Gates has visited Nigeria numerous times before and will continue to do so in his work with the Nigerian governments and other partners in eradicating polio in the country.
“Nigerians should note that President Goodluck Jonathan and Mr Gates have met several times in the past and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the partners working with the Nigerian government towards eradicating polio by 2015, a goal President Jonathan is so committed to and to which he has drawn attention to all the time, and on which quite a lot has been achieved.
“What we will like to reassure people is that those who are always looking for an opportunity to pull down the country should realize the fact that this country belongs to all of us and none of us will gain anything by pulling it down.
“Instead, Nigerians should do everything possible to promote their country regardless of whatever differences may exist between us: ethnic, religious, sectarian, whatever,” the statement concluded.