Uche Usim, Abuja
As the United States insists on a fresh probe of the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, over graft allegations and other ethical breaches, the regional bank Chief on Wednesday insisted he was innocent.
Adesina in a statement said:: ‘In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudiced the bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regards to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity as well as the reputation of AfDB.
“I sincerely appreciate the support of the bank’s shareholders. At this time, I remain confident that ultimately, and as one collective, the bank will emerge stronger than before and continue to support Africa’s development drive.
“I draw great inspiration from my heroes, Nelson Mandela and Koffi Anan whose lives have shown that through pain, we grow.’
The bank’s board succumbed to pressure from the United States government by ordering ‘a new and independent probe’ of his alleged culpability in graft allegations leveled against the bank under his watch. The US government, which is the second-largest shareholder after Nigeria, claimed that several top officials of the bank, including Adesina, worked towards sabotaging the activities of the ethics committee after initially sitting on the allegations for six weeks.
The independent probe is coming barely three months to the bank’s annual general meeting, where Adesina is expected to be ratified for a second term, having been the sole presidential candidate.
Whistleblowers, on October 6, 2019, wrote an OpEd published in an American newspaper, The Hill.
The article queried why the US (as the second largest non-regional shareholder and the 4th largest shareholder after Nigeria, Egypt, and Germany) did not have veto power at the African Development Bank.
AfDB is Africa’s largest multilateral development financial institution with Nigeria as the major shareholder.
The AfDB board decided to go for an independent probe after the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, openly rejected the decision of the bank’s ethics committee to clear Adesina of all the allegations brought against him by some whistleblowers. Incidentally, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland supported the U.S Treasury’s stand on the matter.