Apart from being named Chair of the 28-member Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, GAVI, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala also joined the 167-year-old global sovereign advisory investment firm, Lazard, as Senior Advisor.
GAVI is a $12 billion multilateral 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.
GAVI, which disburses grants of upwards of $1.8 billion annually to developing countries for immunization programmes, brings together developing countries and donor governments, including the World Health Organization, WHO; United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF, and the World Bank.
Other partners to the global agency include the vaccine industry in both industrialized and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
GAVI was funded by 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.
Others include the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States as well as the European Commission, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC Fund for International Development, OFID and other institutional and corporate partners.
Between 2000 and 2015, GAVI disbursed about $425million, an average of about $30million per annum in grants to Nigeria, for vaccination and immunization of children, including polio vaccines.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala would be succeeding a former Norwegian Minister of Health and current Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten, as Chair of GAVI.
At Lazard, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala would work with the 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 Minister of Parliament/Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell.
Global Head of M&A and Sovereign Advisory of Lazard, Matthieu Pigasse, expressed happiness for Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment.
“We are proud to welcome Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as a Senior Advisor to our world-leading sovereign advisory group. She will bring a unique international expertise and experience that will benefit both our sovereign and corporate clients,” he said.
In her reaction to the two appointments, the former Minister, who would be based in 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”.