Adesina fights back, still in charge

•Responds to his ’16 sins’ allegations

Jude Johnson

The embattled president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr. Akinwumi Adesina , is fighting back against allegations of corruption and favouritism levelled against him and has pledged to continue working towards his mandate.

This is coming as his second term re-election, which has been unopposed may be derailed by spirited opposition by some powerful interests that have called for an independent probe after he was exonerated by the AfDB Board.

Adesina’s troubles started when his second term bid received seal of approval from both Nigeria, West Africa and the African Union respectively.

It was the that an anonymous whistle-blowers Adesina of embezzlement, preferential treatment of Nigerians in senior appointments and promoting people accused or found guilty of fraud and corruption. His first term which commenced in 2015 is due to expire this year.

A source within the AfDB however, informed Global Sentinel that the trials Nigerian President of the Bank is connected to his running battle with the American representative and his Western backers who are not happy with his pro-African and pan-Nigerian leaning.

It is also hinted that the ongoing supremacy battle between the United States and China, which is currently flexing its economic muscles may be playing out in the AfDB with Adesina and other African countries as collateral damages.

“The dean of governors/ minister of finance cote d’Ivoire sent the ethics committee report to governors of the 80 member countries to adopt, as required by the Bank’s rules. They are sending in their positions. The Executive Director for U.S ( who has had a running battle with Akinwumi Adesina), decided to make the Treasury’s position public. Equatorial Guinea countered them. We haven’t seen what others have said,” the source told Global Sentinel.

Premium Times has also reported how Adesina, told the bank’s ethics committee that allegations of impropriety and fraud against him were “frivolous and not based on objective and solid facts”.

On January 19, 2020, a group within the bank petitioned the committee, headed by Takuji Yano, the institution’s Japan Executive Director, to demand investigations into 16 allegations against Mr Adesina.

In the petition, the group which has not revealed the identity of its members, alleged “breaches of the Code of Conduct of Elected Officers of the Bank” by Mr Adesina.

On February 7, the committee formally dispatched a copy of the petition to the AfDB President and demanded his official response.

On February 10 and March 10, Adesina’s legal counsel sent letters to the Committee on the matter but their contents were not acted upon.

The Committee said the AfDB president did not inform them the lawyer was acting on his behalf over the matter.

Nevertheless, after his exploration, the United States Treasury Secretary, Mr. Steven Mnuchin, claimed dissatisfaction and demanded for an independent probe.
Backed by African Leaders

One thing going for the embattled AfDB President however, is that apart from running unopposed, his candidacy has received solid approval by relevant constituencies including President Muhammadu Buhari.

The report by African news noted that Adesina who was elected for his first term as president of the development finance institution on May 28, 2015, by the Bank’s Board of Governors at its Annual Meetings in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and the first Nigerian to occupy that position announced his intentions to pursue a second term in office at the bank’s annual meeting in Equatorial Guinea early 2020. 

To this end, ECOWAS decision backing Adesina’s second tenure was announced at the end of the 56th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja, while the Executive Council of AU proclaimed its support during the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council, held during the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 6-7 February 2020. The African Union Executive Council comprises 55 ministers of foreign affairs representing the member states of the African Union

In the same vein, the statement issued by Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Cesar A. Mba Abogo, expressing why Adesina stands the best candidate in spite of the allegations captured the mood of most African countries in the brewing saga.

Part of the statement read: “We therefore salute the AfDB’s bold response and its commitment to assist our countries by creating a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to help cushion the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in regional member countries.

“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 Honourable 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.”

Adesina fights back, says his reported resignation false

Meanwhile, Adesina is fighting back over plans to unseat him from the AfDB Presidency while debunking the rumours that he has stepped aside to allow for independent probe as demanded by the US.

Adesina issued in a statement on Wednesday sighted by Global Sentinel, criticised what he described as “unprecedented attempts” to taint his reputation with accusations which have shaken the institution.

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

“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.”

To this end, he vowed to “continue to work with each and everyone of our shareholders to ensure that the African Development Bank maintains its hard earned global reputation; and that our credible and well-functioning institutional and governance systems are reinforced, as we collectively press.”

In the same vein, the Director of Communications and External Relations, AfDB, Mr. Victor Oladokun, through his social media accounts, issued a rebuttal of media reports of his boss “stepping aside”, terming it fake news.

“The following (media reports) has been doing the rounds on social media and in the publication below. The information is blatantly false and fits a deliberate well orchestrated campaign of calumny and misinformation. #AkinwumiAdesina has NOT stepped down and is still President of the African Development Bank, Africa’s premier development finance institution,” he said.