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Strong indications emerged on Monday that Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, may make the ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu.

Mr Tinubu, who was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th president in May, is yet to send the list of his ministers to the National Assembly as required by law.

As stipulated by law, Mr Tinubu is expected to forward the list of his preferred cabinet members to the parliament within 60 days of his assumption of office. But almost one month after he was sworn in, he is yet to appoint any ministers.

Pate’s hint

On Monday, the global vaccine alliance, GAVI, announced Mr Pate’s decision to decline his appointment as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Mr Pate, who was scheduled to assume office as GAVI’s CEO on 3 August, informed the organisation that “he has taken an incredibly difficult decision to accept a request to return and contribute to his home country, Nigeria.”

His reason for rejecting GAVI’s appointment has raised speculations that he may be considering a position in Mr Tinubu’s cabinet.

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While PREMIUM TIMES could not reach Mr Pate, a source who works with President Tinubu confirmed that Mr Pate’s name was on the list of guests scheduled to see Mr Tinubu “about two weeks ago.”

The source, however, could not confirm if the president eventually met him.

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GAVI’s Appointment

Gavi had on 13 February approved the appointment of Mr Pate as its next CEO.

Mr Pate, a medical doctor, was to replace Seth Barkley, also a medical practitioner, who is expected to end his 12-year reign as the organisation’s CEO on 3rd August.

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Gavi announced Mr Pate as Mr Berkley’s successor, even as it promised to continue its work to support routine immunisation, outbreak response and COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide.

Rejection

Gavi, in a statement published on its website on Monday, said the board decided to appoint David Marlow, currently Gavi’s Chief Operating Officer, to the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer, effective 3 August.

It said the appointment follows a communication from Mr Pate, that he will not be able to join Gavi.

“Mr Pate informed the Gavi Board Chair and Vice Chair that he has taken an incredibly difficult decision to accept a request to return and contribute to his home country, Nigeria,” Gavi wrote.

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“Gavi fully respects the decision and wishes Mr Pate the very best for the future. On informing Gavi, Mr Pate thanked the Chair of the Gavi Board, José Manuel Barroso, the diverse set of Gavi Board members and partners, current CEO Seth Berkley, and the secretariat staff for their support over the last few months, commenting that he will remain a steadfast champion of the Gavi mission.”

About Pate

A medical doctor trained in both internal medicine and infectious diseases, with an MBA from Duke University in the United States, Mr Pate is currently the Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership at Harvard Chan School of Public Health and has served on several health-focused boards and expert panels in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors during his career.

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He served as the Global Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population of the World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility at the World Bank between 2019 and 2021. He led the Bank’s $18 billion COVID-19 global health response and represented the bank on various boards, including those of Gavi, the Global Fund, CEPI and UNAIDS.

As Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health between 2011 and 2013, he led a flagship initiative to revive routine vaccinations and primary healthcare, chaired a presidential task force to eradicate polio and introduced new vaccines into the country.

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About GAVI

Gavi, the vaccine alliance, is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi said it has helped to immunise more than 981 million children, and prevented more than 16.2 million future deaths.

The organisation said it has also helped to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries.

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Gavi said it also plays a key role in improving global health security “by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningococcal, and yellow fever vaccines.”

After two decades of progress, the organisation said it is now focused on protecting the next generation, “above all the zero-dose children who have not received even a single vaccine shot.”

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Gavi is a co-convener of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and UNICEF.

Source: Premium Times

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