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Well-meaning Africans Speak Against AfDB’s Akinwumi Adesina allegations, as He Proclaim his Innocence

Adesina, who is the president of the AfDB, was accused of favouritism and has been absolved of the allegations by the bank’s ethics committee.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had, in a letter, dated 22 May, addressed to the Chairperson of the AfDB board of directors, Niale Kaba, asked the Ethics Committee of the African Development Bank “to Initiate an In-depth investigation of the allegations” some whistleblowers had leveled against Adesina.

However, AfDB’s Akinwumi Adesina denies allegations against to the new independent probe that was ordered by the board of African Development Bank (AfDB) into his activities, AfDP’s incumbent president, Akinwunmi Adesina, said he is not guilty of any wrongdoing. He also vowed to remain in office.

Adesina’s response to the fresh investigation was disclosed in a press statement that he personally and released on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Adesina hit back at ‘unprecedented attempts by some people to tarnish his reputation’ and stated that he would continue to work with all the shareholders. In his statement, Adesina also expressed confidence that a fair and transparent probe would eventually prove his innocence. He said:

“I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped-up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.

“I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the bank, and rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the code of ethics of this extraordinary institution.”

Former Nigerian President  Olusegun Obasanjo’s Letter

In his letter, Obasanjo wrote: “Unfortunately, the US government, through the US treasury secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the chairman of the board of governors of the bank.
Instead of accepting the exoneration of the president of the bank, they called for an independent investigation.

“This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the bank. The US treasury secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.

“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.”

Obasanjo also advised that it is “critical” to emphasise the need for the AfDB to remain an “African-focused development bank rather than one which serves interests outside Africa.

Minister of Finance Nigeria, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed’s Letter

Reacting to this, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, however, appealed to the chairman of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to dismiss the call for an independent investigation of Adesina.

According to the letter written by the finance minister, the duo urged Kaba Niale, chairman of the AfDB board of governors, to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

 “The call for an ‘independent investigation’ of the President is outside of the laid down rules, procedures and governing system of the bank and its articles as it relates to the Code of Conduct on Ethics for the President.

“As Board of Governors (made up of the finance ministers of member countries), we must uphold the rule of law and respect the governance systems of the bank. If there’s any governance issues that needs improvement, these can be considered and amendments proposed for adoption in line with laid down procedures.

“The Nigerian Government welcomes the conclusion of the Ethics Committee and the decision of the Chair of the Board of Governors.

“The Ethics Committee, following three months of work to examine the whistleblowers’ allegations made against the President, dismissed each and every one of the allegations of the whistleblowers against the President as unsubstantiated and baseless,” Ahmed wrote.

Muhammadu Sanusi II Comments

The former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has urged Africans and friends of the continent to stand up to ensure that laid-down rules are respected in the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.

“It is a simple adherence to global best practices in governance. AfDB has clearly defined rules and processes for investigating and dealing with allegations of misconduct. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

“Since those processes were duly followed it is unheard of for the rules to be changed because someone does not like the outcome.”

Sanusi, who is a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the support being shown for Adesina should not be viewed as “defending a Nigerian or a friend”.

“I have watched him at AfDB and his stellar performance is there for all to see. This is not about defending a Nigerian or a friend,” he continued.

“It is about standing up for what is right, for justice and for principle. Africa and its friends must stand up at this point.”

“My hope is that everyone will see reason and respect the rules. As the minister has said if you don’t like the rules change them but not retroactively.”

United States seeks fresh probe

An internal inquiry by the Bank’s Ethics Committee cleared Adesina of all charges, prompting whistle-blowers to demand an independent inquiry after their complaint did not appear to gain momentum.

Mnuchin said that a complete dismissal of allegations against Adesina without adequate investigation would taint the AfDB’s reputation at a critical point in time. He added that further inquiry was necessary to ensure the AfDB’s President had “broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate” from shareholders.

The United States is the second largest shareholder of the AfDB with a 6.5 percent stake behind Nigeria, Adesina’s home country, which has a nine percent stake.

On Wednesday, 27th of May 2020, the board has agreed to an independent investigation in line with demands from Steven Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, Bloomberg reports.

Munchin said the US disagreed with the decision of the bank’s ethics committee which absolved Adesina of the allegations, according to a letter addressed to Kaba.

The board has not reached a decision on a request by the US to carry out an independent investigation into allegations of favouritism against Adesina- Kaba Niale

“On Tuesday, May 26, the office of the board of governors of the African Development Bank Group held a meeting to examine the matter arising from a complaint from the board of directors of the bank, and about that which I received from some shareholders expressing different points of view,” she said in the statement.

“The office which I chair wishes to reassure the public that it has taken up the matter and is treating it with the greatest rigour and with all the seriousness that it deserves.

“However, the office informs the public that no decision has been made as falsely conveyed in some publications,” Haa

“Everyone must allow the Office to do its work and let the process of examining this case to take its course. The opinion of all the governors will be sought for its successful outcome.”

We are certainly satisfied with the Bank’s performance and the visionary leadership of its President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

I would like to commend the credible and exhaustive work of the  Bank’s Board-constituted Ethics Committee’s chaired by the  Honorable Takuji Yano. The Committee’s report referencing sixteen allegations by whistle-blowers against Dr. Adesina and other executives of the Bank, unequivocally stated that “these allegations are not valid and should be rejected”.

With regard to the whistle-blower’s rejection of the conclusions of the Ethics Committee, we express our deep concern about how this not only undermines and affects Dr. Adesina’s credibility but is also contributing to the erosion of the bank’s credibility, especially the strength of its internal institutions.

We believe that this is just the opposite of what humanity needs at this time when we are facing an unprecedented crisis. We therefore echo the call by the Chair of the Board of Governors, Honourable Niale Kaba, for “restoring peace and serenity within the Bank.”

In conclusion, and as a testimony of my support for Dr. Adesina and all the Bank executives who have personally and adversely affected by this situation and unfounded allegations, a few verses penned by John Donne (and popularized by Hemingway) come to mind.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Today in the African Development Bank, the bells toll not for Dr. Adesina but for Africa … for humanity.

The allegations are an attempt to discredit Adesina from seeking another term

Akinwumi Adesina previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Until his appointment as Minister in 2010, he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). In 2015, he was elected as the 8th President of the African Development Bank. He had hardly settled down in the office before France began to complain that he rarely speaks French, whereas he is fluent in both English and French.

In 2019 he received the Sunhak Peace Prize for his achievements in promoting food security in Africa through agricultural innovation. The biennial award honours individuals and organizations who have made a significant contribution to world peace for future generations. Adesina the sole candidate in this year’s race at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

As the President of Africa’s largest multilateral lender he has helped in securing a General Capital Increase of $115bn, the largest ever in the history of the bank; Adesina led the bank to develop a $10bn Crisis Response Facility for Africa to fight the Coronavirus pandemic as well as leading the bank to launch a $3bn “Fight COVID19” social bond, the largest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world’s history.

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