In 2020, an ecstatic Folasade Osho, working with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was awarded the AIG-Scholarship thus beginning the journey to a life-changing career experience.
A summer project she undertook with the Oxford in Berlin Global Public Health Strategy Group provided her with an opportunity to contribute to a national project focused on using digital tools to mitigate the supply of substandard or falsified COVID-19 vaccines in lower-middle-isometries.
Osho has facilitated Nigeria’s participation in a workshop that birthed “the Abuja principles”, which distilled vital insights to be considered when implementing digital innovations in resource-constrained settings. The experience she gained during the project made her an ideal candidate to be called upon to serve on the Technical Working Group (TWG) for implementing pharmaceutical traceability in Nigeria.
Osho has also been involved in preparing guidelines and organising workshops and training for stakeholders within the pharmaceutical supply chain, the Federal Ministry of Health, other agencies, and funding partners. These activities are in preparation for a full-scale implementation of traceability for all medical products in Nigeria by 2024.
Osho’s training has been invaluable in solving a real world problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said substandard drugs kill 500,000 persons yearly.
To curb the problem of fake drugs, NAFDAC is implementing a drug traceability programme, which will enable the agency to see the movement of prescription drugs or medical devices across the supply chain by 2024.
Interestingly, Osho, who currently serves as a member of the Technical Working Committee implementing pharmaceutical traceability in Nigeria, owes her skills and abilities to the AIG-Imoukheude Foundation scholarship programme.
“The knowledge I gained from effective use of evidence in policy-making, managing public sector organisations, and interest groups’ politics has proved extremely valuable in my work as a member of the TWG for implementing pharmaceutical traceability in Nigeria,” Osho said.
The Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation
Aigboje and Ofovwe Aig-Imoukhuede started their philanthropic journey over 30 years ago and have been involved in many grassroots and not-for-profit projects across Nigeria. Six years ago, they established the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation to consolidate, provide focus, and coordinate the family’s philanthropic activities.
The Foundation achieves its objectives by strengthening public sector reform initiatives with funding and technical assistance and by implementing capacity-building programs for public servants. It collaborates with government ministries, departments and agencies, academic institutions, civil society organisations, and private sector entities to scale its impact.
To promote its healthcare goals, the Foundation provides funding and strategic support to drive the work of affiliate organisations focused on driving access to quality and affordable healthcare. Organisations supported include ABCHealth, the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) and the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF).
To build public servant capabilities, it offers the AIG Scholarships empowering outstanding Nigerian Public Servants with the opportunity to pursue a Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Since 2017, it has awarded 29 scholarships to students across various African countries.
Other initiatives include the AIG Senior Leaders Programme for Federal Permanent Secretaries and the annual AIG Public Leaders Programme, which aims to provide high-potential public servants with the knowledge required to bring about transformational change across their organisations.
Through its various programmes, the Foundation has helped train nearly 400 public servants since 2017 and aims to reach 3,000 of the country’s top public servants by 2030.
The AIG-Imoukheude Foundation seeks to solve real-world problems by training its focus on advocacy, capacity building, civil service reforms, and improving healthcare.
Through evidence-based advocacy, it seeks to provide focused citizens with information and knowledge about public sector performance so that they are empowered to call for improved public service delivery and hold the government accountable. It also advocates for increased private-public sector collaboration and knowledge transfer to improve the effectiveness of the public sector.
The foundation’s capacity building programme is directed at enhancing the capacity of civil servants and other public sector officials to be more effective in their roles. This is done by funding scholarships, developing executive training programmes based on the needs of the public sector workforce, and collaborating with government entities to support their capacity-building initiatives.
It supports the reform initiatives of public sector entities by providing financing, strategic support, and technical assistance, focusing on projects that will ultimately contribute to a more effective service.
The foundation also seeks to improve access to quality, affordable healthcare and is working with the Nigerian government to strengthen primary healthcare systems for better health outcomes for all citizens.
“We also collaborate with carefully chosen partners to provide them with strategic support and funding to address some of the most significant challenges in Africa’s primary healthcare sector,” it said on its website.
The AIG Scholarships isn’t just about education; it’s about creating leaders who can tackle the unique challenges of the Nigerian public sector. These public servants return home equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to become transformative leaders. For example, Louisa Chinedu-Okeke, the Special Assistant to the President on Finance, working in the office of the immediate past Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo was a 2018 AIG Scholar, whose experience impacted his career.
Louisa applied for the AIG Scholarship to undertake a Master’s in Public Policy degree (MPP) at the University of Oxford because she wanted to make a leap from a career in consulting to the public sector and sought to gain knowledge and develop skills from one of the world’s leading universities that would help her be successful as she transitioned into the public sphere.
“As a result of the training and experience I received from the MPP, I can critically review my opinions and the views of other parties to structure my position so that my proposals and recommendations for policy direction are always evidence-based. Additionally, I gained important soft skills that have helped me enhance my results by building consensus with people.”
Louisa was a member of the committee that monitored and evaluated the implementation of Nigeria’s economic sustainability plan, created in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. She was also a member of the Fiscal Policy Reform Committee that came up with the finance bill for 2021.
Earlier in the year, Folashade Yemi-Esan, head of the Nigerian public service, traveled to Singapore for a public service conference. The kind of technological tools used by her counterparts in other countries forced her upon her return to call a press release and sound warning that unless the country embrace digital technology, efficient service delivery would be a mirage.
“They were presenting new technologies they use in public administration. Most countries have gone far. We are still grappling with digitalisation. They were talking about Artificial Intelligence and how they were using it in public service”, she added.
The AIG-Imouhkuede Foundation is helping to bridge this gap. It is supporting the digitalisation, performance management, and culture change efforts at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
This intervention will help tackle some challenges involving bureaucracy, inefficiency, and a need for innovative policymaking as the use of data and technology could improve efficiency.
Beneficiaries of the foundation’s scholarships have seen the impact of transformative leadership in their own lives. 2019 AIG Scholar Hakeem Onasanya, the Special Adviser to the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) said his experience at Oxford has made him approach his work with excellence and impact at the forefront of his mind.
“When you work in public service, you must serve the people; you are not doing them a favour. So, I approach my work with that mindset. I also carry out constant impact evaluations to assess how the beneficiaries of any project I am engaged in are faring and if it is solving the identified problem. Finally, I ensure that I obtain sufficient data so that the assessment of the results of our interventions is backed by evidence.”
In an increasingly evolving world, Nigeria requires visionary leaders who can navigate complex issues, make data-driven decisions, and drive meaningful change and this occurs with transformative leadership which is at the heart of what the Aig-Imoukhued Foundation is seeking to achieve.
The challenges of poor working conditions, over-staffing, and bureaucracy mean that Nigeria’s public sector requires fresh ideas, modern leadership, and data-driven decision-making to address pressing issues like infrastructure development, economic growth, and public service delivery. This what the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation seeks to accomplish. It’s mission is to improve the lives of Africans through transformed public service delivery and increased access to quality primary healthcare.
In the 2023/2024 session, the foundation continued its capacity enhancing programme. AIG scholars were Abdulhakeem Ibraheem Abdulkareem (Special Assistant to the Kaduna State Governor); Ajike Chinagorom Ogbu (Assistant Chief Engineer, Performance Management Department, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation), and Olutimayin Oluseye Itunuoluwa, (Deputy Manager, Internal Audit Department, Central Bank of Nigeria).
The Foundation said the applications for the 2024/2025 AIG Scholarships will open in August 2023.