Last week’s commendation by President Muhammadu Buhari on the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, over the clean bill of health given to him by the Board of Directors of the financial institution is not only timely but also a major boost for the second term bid, which is due in September, of the embattled technocrat..
In a report dated May 5, 2020, signed by Niale Kaba, Chairman of the Bureau of the Board of Governors, indicated that Dr. Adesina had been exonerated of allegations against him by whistleblowers, which were thoroughly investigated by the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, and a recommendation made to Governors of the African Development Bank, and African Development Fund.
According to Kaba, in the report, “On the basis of the results contained in the report of the committee, I am of the view that we should adopt its conclusions by declaring that the President is totally exonerated of all the allegations made against him.”
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said, “Dr. Adesina has served the African continent well, and has made his motherland proud.” He wished Adesina “greater successes in the position of responsibility he occupies.”
It is instructive that Adesina, who had been widely endorsed by stakeholders for a second term commencing in September, had been stiffly opposed by some non-African stakeholders who had leveled a number of allegations against him.
There had also been strong board resistance by a number of non-regional member countries who were opposed to the COVID-19 support facilities and the lifting of partial sanctions for countries such as Zimbabwe and Sudan. The AfDB boss was said to have been livid by the delay, pointing out that Africa had to be helped quickly to join the rest of the world in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Aside the disagreement over thecoronavirus pandemic support fund, there were also complaint by some members of the AfDB staff against Adesina’s running of the bank. The allegations which were supposed to have been looked into confidentially by the Bank’s Ethics Committee, had been circulated widely and against bank rules by a certain non-regional executive director who, it was reported, has never hidden his opposition to Adesina.
Among several allegations are that Adesina intends to make the AfDB a Nigerian affair by giving compatriots key positions, but also by more easily granting lines of credit to leading Nigerian companies.
Facts on the bank’s website, however, point to the contrary as an approved list of projects on the website show that Senegal, Cameroun, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia and others are key beneficiaries of about 75 projects worth $64.5 billion. These countries have projects specifically targeting them, while Nigeria benefits more from multiple-country focused projects.
The publication of the allegations in a prominent French newspaper lends credence to the view that this was a multi-pronged and concerted attempt by some forces to undermine Adesina’s credibility and thwart the re-election of one of Africa’s most decorated development economists.
Adesina, in a formal response to the allegations, insisted that: “The African Development Bank has a very high reputation for good governance”, adding that he has confidence in the Board of Governors of the Bank and pleaded that the Ethics Committee should be allowed to do its job without interference.
It is noteworthy that Adesina took over the helm of Africa’s premier development finance institution in 2015. In 2017, he was awarded the World Food Prize (an award that has been dubbed the Nobel Prize of Agriculture) for his accomplishments in spearheading a transformation of Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
The World Food Prize Foundation lauded Adesina’s qualitative leadership and his visionary roles over the past two decades in promoting agriculture with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and as Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria. In 2019, Adesina was awarded the prestigious Sunhak Peace Prize.
During his tenure, the bank has seen its fortunes rise on several fronts, including the largest general capital increase in its history with a capital base of $208 billion. In the 2018, Aid Transparency Index Report, released by ‘Publish What You Fund’, the AfDB was ranked 4th among 45 development organisations around the world. The bank has had a historic and long-standing good relationship with the United States and the World Bank, and continues to do so.
It is, therefore, a huge relief for Adesina in particular and Nigeria as a whole that the board of AfDB has cleared Adesina of all the allegations against him and given him a clean bill of health to continue to manage the affairs of the bank for a second term commencing in September. This is indeed a remarkable breakthrough in the Buhari administration’s war against corruption and a pointer to the fact that Nigerians can be incorruptible as well as be diligent in their call to duty.
Blueprint urges Adesina not to be deterred in his diligent service to the AfDB. W join President Buhari to wish the AfDB president a successful tenure as he prepares to steer the affairs of the regional financial institution for a second term.