New vistas for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at Lazard and Gavi

22 Sep 2015, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


At Gavi, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala will succeed Dagfinn Høybråten, a former Norwegian Minister of Health.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's former Minister of Finance and Chair-elect, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Having worked at the World Bank for over 25 years, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who served twice as Nigeria's Finance Minister, has secured two international appointments. She has joined Lazard, a global financial advisory and asset management company, as Senior Advisor. This position and her appointment as Chair-elect of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, were announced on Monday, by the respective organisations.   

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who currently serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and ONE, is a development economist with a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also received honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, University of Pennsylvania and Brown University.

Okonjo-Iweala will join the Sovereign Advisory team of Lazard whose areas of expertise include debt management, FDI management, project financing as well as macro- and micro-policy advisory. The 167-year-old firm is the world’s largest advisory-focused firm with private, corporate and government clients in over 70 countries.   

Global Head of M&A and Sovereign Advisory at Lazard, Matthieu Pigasse, said, “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.”

As the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance under the Administration of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has come under considerable criticisms from members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly superintending over corruption in the government that the APC defeated in the pivotal 2015 presidential election. The former Managing Director of the World Bank Group has refuted all allegations and has said she is ready for any kind of investigation.

Her appointment as Chair of Gavi will take effect from January 2016. She is succeeding Dagfinn Høybråten, a former Norwegian Minister of Health who joined the Board of the Vaccine Alliance in 2006 and became the Chair in 2010.

“I am excited to be joining Gavi during this crucial time,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “Gavi has a well-earned reputation as one of the leading players in global health, providing services that underpin human and economic development. We must build on this solid foundation to create sustainable programmes that will drive down vaccine-preventable diseases, reach every child and provide them with a sound basis for their futures.”

Gavi, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has committed $1.2 billion towards helping 73 of the world’s poorest countries with 310 immunisation programmes. The Vaccine Alliance has supported the immunisation of over half a billion children in developing countries.

Child mortality rate has fallen 53% between 1990 and 2015. According to Gavi, this is due to increased access to immunisation. The Vaccine Alliance has a donors list that includes the government of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and many others. Other donors include the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; private and corporate partners like JP Morgan, UPS and Vodafone.   

In her response to the two appointments, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala 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.”