The reelection bid of the embattled President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has received more support despite strong opposition by the United States. Although the Bureau of Board of Governors of the bank has approved an independent investigation of the allegations against Adesina, former US director of the bank, Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, has backed Adesina’s second term bid. In the same vein, the private sector in Africa has also supported his candidature for the plum job. We recall that an unnamed group had accused Adesina of impropriety and fraud, thereby violating the code of conduct of the institution.
However, the ethics committee of the bank had absolved the President of all the charges, describing them as spurious and unfounded. Regardless, the United States government expressed deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process and called for a fresh in-depth investigation of the allegations using an independent investigator.
Curiously, the Bureau of Board of Governors has bowed to the US demand and authorised an independent review of the ethic committee’s report. In a communiqué, the Bureau reiterated its agreement that the ethics committee of the Boards of Directors performed its role on the matter in accordance with the applicable rule. It also stressed, “based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the need to carry every Governor along in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorise an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations considered by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Bank Group thereto in the interest of due process.”
Now that the bank’s Bureau of Board of Governors has approved a review of the ethics committee report, we call for transparency in the exercise. The AfDB should be allowed to continue its role as a multilateral development finance institution and financial provider to African governments and private companies investing in the regional member countries, not a platform for muscle flexing and political showmanship. The bank has 81 member states, comprising 54 African members and 27 non-Africans. Nigeria is the largest shareholding country followed by America, Egypt and Japan.
Its mission is to fight poverty and improve living conditions on the continent through promoting the investment of public and private capital in projects and programmes that are likely to contribute to the economic and social development of the Region. Nothing should be allowed to derail this noble agenda.
The exoneration of Adesina by the bank’s ethics committee indicates that he remains committed to its ideals. The confirmation by Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian President and foremost African statesman, that he has taken the bank to a great height since becoming the President in the last five years, should stand for him at this moment. It is good that Nigeria is backing him in his re-election bid, particularly when nothing has been established against him. We applaud the move and urge that it should not dither.
Nigeria should not be forced out of the race, especially when it has the highest shareholdings in the bank. The bank’s President has also shown reasons on he deserves a second term. AfDB under him, has been actively positioned as an effective global institution ranked fourth globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions. The proactive response and financial support of the institution to African countries in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, to the tune of $10 billion and other incentives, remain exemplary. Adesina is adjudged to have run the organisation efficiently. This is the first time in recent history that about 15 leaders of the African continent have supported a candidate for an international assignment like the AfDB presidency. It is not for nothing. They should not waver of their position.
It would be unfair to rubbish what Adesina has done in AfDB in the last five years on the altar of international politics. The whistle blower’s petition that the US is relying on to insist on the review of the corruption allegations has been repudiated by the internal investigative report of the bank. The fresh move is a subtle introduction of a novel structure in the affairs of the institution. African leaders should be alert on the creeping agenda.
With the second largest shareholding position in the bank, there is no doubt that the US has interest on who heads it. African member countries should not lose sight of this fact. Therefore, they must ensure that the interests of African countries are protected.