Two key international jobs for Okonjo-Iweala

Former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has accepted two key international positions that would see her commuting between London, Paris and Geneva.

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A statement yesterday by her media adviser Paul Nwabuikwu said that she will serve as the Chairperson of the 28-member Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) (http://www.gavi.org/about/), an international public-private partnership committed to saving the lives of children and protecting people’s health by improving access to immunization in developing countries, including Nigeria.

Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the position after a competitive international search process, the statement said.

GAVI is a $12 billion multilateral partnership, which disburses grants of upwards of $1.8 billion annually to developing countries for immunization programmes.

GAVI brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

GAVI is funded by the governments of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States as well as the European Commission, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and other institutional and corporate partners.

Between 2000 and 2015, GAVI disbursed $425 million in grants to Nigeria, an average of about $30 million per annum for vaccination and immunization of children, including polio vaccines.

Okonjo-Iweala will be succeeding Dagfinn Høybråten, a former Norwegian Minister of Health and current Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers as chair of GAVI.

Previous chairs include Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and respected education activist and former First Lady of South Africa, Graca Machel.

In the second appointment, the former Managing Director of the World Bank has also joined the highly respected 167-year-old global investment firm, Lazard (https://www.lazard.com/) as Senior Advisor. Her focus will be sovereign advisory.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as a Senior Advisor to our world-leading sovereign advisory group,” said Matthieu Pigasse, Global Head of M&A and Sovereign Advisory of Lazard.

“She will bring a unique international expertise and experience that will benefit both our sovereign and corporate clients.”

At Lazard, Okonjo-Iweala will work alongside colleagues including former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating; former Special Adviser to President Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan; former Spanish Economy Minister and current Senior Managing Director at Lazard, Rodrigo de Rato; former Chair of NASDAQ, Frank Zarb; former Finance Minister of Chile, Andres Velasco; and former British Member of Parliament/Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell.

In her reaction to the two appointments, Okonjo-Iweala who will be working out of Paris, Geneva and London said: “I am excited to be embarking on this fresh journey. The two appointments will enable me to continue doing what I know best – rendering public service and using my financial and economist skills. I thank the international community for the recognition and continued support. I am also grateful for the prayers and support of many Nigerians.”

On her Twitter handle yesterday, the former minister added: “I’m excited to join GAVI to immunize 300 million more children in the next five years and save 5 million to 6 million more lives.”

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