Nigeria this week began to feel the full impact of the diplomatic row it sparked with the United States after pardoning corrupt ex-convicts and a rapist. And the health of the Nigerian child is the first casualty.
The first backlash has taken full effect as America's richest man, Bill Gates, on Monday, arrived Ghana in a trip that would have seen the billionaire stop by Nigeria to meet President Goodluck Jonathan, and other officials concerning the aggressive polio eradication campaign his Bill and Melinda Foundation is undertaking in Nigeria.
"I arrive in Ghana today to see firsthand why the country's immunization system is working so well and meet the people involved," Mr Gates wrote in a website in which he is keeping personal notes.
Mr. Gates was due in Nigeria March 27-28, after his visit to neighbouring Ghana, but called off the trip two-day trip after the U.S. government expressed disappointment with Nigeria for pardoning convicted money launderers and warned it might cut aid meant for the country.
Although diplomatic sources told PREMIUM TIMES the American billionaire decided to stay off Nigeria in response to Mr. Jonathan's pardoning of corrupt officials, Mr. Bill's office has maintained the trip was put off due to a change in his schedule.
Nigeria's President Jonathan stirred local and international discontent after he granted state pardon to his former boss and ex-Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreiye Alamieyeisegha.
The former governor, wanted in United Kingdom for money laundering, and convicted here for embezzling state funds while he was Bayelsa Governor, was pardoned alongside another convict and former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.
Mr. Bulama, like Mr. Alamieyeisegha, was investigated and later prosecuted for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The controversial pardon granted Messrs Alamieyeseigha and Bulama sparked diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United States, with the Americans threatening to punish Nigeria over Mr. Jonathan's action.
"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.