President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has been absolved of all allegations of corruption brought against him by 16 whistleblowers. Their 15-page report claimed that, under his watch, the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism. His clearance by a team of independent investigators last week was the second time he would be declared blameless after the ethics committee of the bank’s governing board did so in April. The independent panel of experts is headed by former Irish President Mary Robinson. The other two members The Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy.
Adesina, 60, was first elected in 2015 and is seeking a second term during the AfDB’s meeting in August. He is the sole candidate. The whistle blowing against him is being seen as an attempt to stop stop him winning. His vindication by the bank’s ethics committee did not impress the United States, the biggest external investor in the bank, which said the committee did not do a good job and demanded an independent inquiry. “Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter dated May 22 and addressed to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the bank’s board of governors. “Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.”
The report of the independent panel, published last week, quoted by AFP (Agence France Presse), has again vindicated Adesina. The panel agreed with the AfDB’s committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations. It found them to be completely false. The former Nigerian agriculture minister had always stated he was “innocent” of the charges. Now that he is in the clear, we hope that the United States and its allies opposed to Adesina’s reelection will let a sleeping dog lie. But will they?
At this juncture, we want to recall our position on the matter in a June 18 editorial “Africa should support its own”. The comment said inter alia: “It is no secret that the U.S. does not want a Nigerian to head the AfDB. For years it has used its vote and those of its European allies to stop candidates put up by Nigeria for the bank’s president. Adesina, however, broke the jinx in 2015 and America did not like that. This is why it is pulling all the strings to stop Adesina’s reelection.”
However, we warned that “the United States is sure to lose face again, given the solid support Adesina has received from President Muhammadu Buhari and his 52 colleagues in the African Union (AU). Africa welcomes America’s partnership, but this is not to say it will always have its way. A second wave of colonialism is out of the question.” Another reason we gave was Adesina’s sterling performance so far in that position. “The AfDB is Africa’s biggest multilateral lender and, under Adesina, it has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings. Its shareholders are Africa’s 54 nations and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia. In March, the lender issued a $3 billion social bond to help African countries deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Bids for the securities on the London money market exceeded $4.6 billion. The bank also launched a $10 billion crisis-response facility for African nations. These are no small achievements. It is a shame that rather commendation, Adesina is being rubbished by Washington’s hangmen or moles in the bank. If he is the devil that he is being made to be, why is it that nobody is running against him in next month’s presidential election?”
That was our position then and still is now. Adesina, go ahead and “fight the good fight”. The crown is certainly yours, especially now that the coast is clear.