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It started as conspiracy theory circulating on social media that billionaire tech mogul Bill Gates was behind a plan to hurriedly pass a controversial Infectious Disease Control Bill into law in the Nigerian parliament.
But when the spokesperson of one the political parties in Nigeria, Ikenga Ugochinyere issued a statement alleging that the leadership of the House of Representatives received the sum of $10m to ensure the passage of the bill, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation responded.
The response came when the Country Director of the foundation, Paulin Basinga appeared before the House AdhocCommittee that is looking into the allegation.
He said, the foundation had neither offered a financial inducement to any legislative branch in the country to pass the legislation nor provided grants to any organization to push the same agenda.
Basinga said, “The foundation works in very diverse settings around the globe in a non-partisan fashion consistent with strict US private foundation restrictions on political and legislative engagement.
“In Nigeria, the foundation’s focus is on improving the quality of life for the Nigerian people and the Foundation works closely with many partners in achieving that goal.”
He stressed that the foundation is providing help to the Nigerian government in terms of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other broader health issues.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also summoned the conspiracy theorist to appear before it to explain the bribery allegation.
Bill Gates has filed a lawsuit challenging the summon.
Conspiracy theories around the Gates did not just start in Nigeria. They have instead become more popular during this pandemic. But what is more bizarre is the status of some of the Nigerians pushing these theories.
For instance, Nigeria’s former aviation minister is a prominent member of this movement.
He has once described the Gates as “demonic, satanic and occultic.”
In a recent article titled ‘The Gospel According to Bill Gates,’ he alleges that Bill Gates lacks compassion.
“They say ‘beware of the Greeks when they bring gifts.’ I say there is only one thing that is more dangerous than a Greek gift and that is a free lunch and a free ride from Bill and Melinda Gates,” he says.
The Gates obviously are no strangers to conspiracy theories around their international intensions. Despite their bad publicity, there is no indication that the Gates, who have over $1bn in Nigeria – mostly in health – would stop their charity works in the country.