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Nigeria’s Akinwunmi Adesina gets second term as AfDB boss

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Nigeria’s Akinwunmi Adesina has been affirmed as the president of the African Development Bank for another term by the board of governors of African Development Bank on Thursday.

“Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has been re-elected as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB),” presidential spokesman Bashir Ahmed tweeted on Thursday.

“With this re-election, he will spend another 5 years supervising the affairs of the Bank,” he added.

Adesina, the first Nigerian to hold the position, was the only candidate in the election. He was first elected in May 2015.

“At this Annual Meetings, I offer myself to you, our Governors, for your consideration for election for a second term, as President,” Adesina told the governors on the first day of the AfDB’s annual general meetings on Wednesday.

“I do so, with humility. I do so with a strong sense of duty and commitment and a call to serve Africa and our Bank, selflessly, to the very best of my God-given abilities.”

His chances of returning were almost scuppered a few months ago when the United States authorities insisted that he must be investigated for corruption claims made by a whistleblower.

The former Nigerian agriculture minister denied any wrongdoing. He was also cleared of all allegations on multiple occasions.

Weathering the storm

Whistleblowers had accused Adesina of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities”.

On May 5, the ethics committee of the continental bank, headed by Takuji Yano, said in its report that Adesina was not guilty on all counts. Adesina in a statement on Wednesday also maintained his innocence.

Unsatisfied with the committee’s report, the United States Department of Treasury called for an independent investigation.

But Nigerian authorities rose in support of the AfDB chief, with the government through its finance minister Zainab Ahmed and former President Olusegun Obasanjo rallying support for him.

In separate letters in May, Obasanjo and Ahmed, they urged AfDB to ignore calls for an independent investigation of Adesina by the US.

Obasanjo’s letter was addressed to 13 former African leaders including former presidents of South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzanian, Republic of Benin, Liberia and Tunisia.

Ahmed’s letter was directed to the chairman of the Board of Governors of African Development Bank, Kaba Niale, urging her to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

Obasanjo said that the call by the US for an independent investigation of Adesina “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,” Obasanjo said in his statement.

Ahmed also shared the same sentiment by faulting the position of the US.

“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,” Ahmed wrote.

Reward for more work

An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish president Mary Robinson, cleared Adesina of corruption charges in July.

In his speech to the board of governors on the first day of the annual meetings held virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Adesina said he was focused on helping Africa survive the scourge of the pandemic.

“The price of good work is more work,” he said. “We have our work cut out for us — now more than ever — to help Africa rebound, and to get back on a stronger pathway of economic growth and resilience.”


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