The current travails of the Nigerian- born President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, whose leadership is under serious threat from the government of the United States of America, USA, over allegations of financial impropriety, should be stoutly resisted by the shareholders for the continued survival of the multilateral body.
Also, the alleged ethical infractions levelled against Dr. Adesina should be seen by the Bank’s stakeholders as a deliberate plot by the Donald Trump administration to distract and undermine the efficient running of the 56-year-old institution.
We particularly challenge Heads of State and governments of the Africa’s 54 nations who constitute majority of the shareholders to commence immediate lobbying of other stakeholders of the bank to defend the rules, regulations and governance ethics of the institution in the interest of all.
Apart from the USA, there are 26 other countries including Argentina, United Kingdom, China, Denmark in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia who are shareholders of the Bank.
The US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had, contrary to the institution’s extant statutes, to the consternation of shareholders, recently rejected the clean bill given Dr. Adesina by the AfDB Ethics Committee over 16 allegations of impropriety and fraud leveled by whistle blowers against the Bank’s helmsman.
According to reports, in a letter dated May 22, 2020 and addressed to Niale Kaba, chairperson of the Bank’s Board of Governors, the US declared that it completely disagreed with findings by the Bank’s Ethics committee that “totally exonerated” Adesina.
Expectedly, the apparent brazen attempt by the US to bully the organization to submission on the issue, drew immediate and appropriate response from African elder statesmen led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who raised the alarm over the sinister motive of the Donald Trump administration confronted currently at home by the raging COVID-19 pandemic that had claimed over 100,000 Americans and nationwide range by African Americans protesting the recent killing of George Floyd.
Specifically, Obasanjo in a public letter, explained that rather than ‘’accepting the exoneration of the President of the Bank’’, the US called for a fresh independent investigation of the AfDB chief which is outside the “rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the Bank’’ established in 1964, accusing the US Treasury Secretary of disparaging the institution and ridiculing its entire governance system.
Again, we note with satisfaction the further step taken by Obasanjo, who swiftly mobilized African statesmen to intervene in the plot by the US to unseat Adesina even after he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Ethics Committee of the Bank, the attempt, he insisted, negated the institution’s laws, adding that the institution unlike the United Nations Security Council where America dominates, doesn’t allow veto of its decision.
In rejecting the American stand, the African leaders stridently warned that, “If we do not rise up and defend the AfDB, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa”.
We wholeheartedly welcome the timely warning and demand that time is of the essence for all shareholders of the Bank especially African Heads of State and governments to swiftly unleash diplomatic battle to save the institution and its leadership from its current travails and distraction in order to frustrate Trump’s destructive agenda.
The US President has never hidden his hatred and total disregard for Africa and the black race through his past unprintable outbursts against the blacks. According to an analyst, the move to get Adesina out, perhaps at all costs, is not unconnected with his re-election bid as the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August this year and not as a result of any ethical infraction on the part of the 60-year-old bank chief, a former Agriculture minister, who has repeatedly refuted the allegations.
We believe that capitulating to Trump’s neo-colonialist antics will set a dangerous precedent and spell doom to the Bank and Africans as a whole given the stellar performance of Adesina in the last five years that won him the hearts of all the Heads of State and governments of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, who have fully endorsed him for second term.
Clearly to the dismay of America, Adesina has brought integrity, excellence and accountability to the institution, which are rare attributes among most African leaders as well as positioned the Bank as “an effective global institution ranked fourth globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions.”
Besides, his achievements include: “A $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries in Africa. The Bank also successfully launched a $3 billion ‘Fight COVID-19 social bond’, which is the largest ever US dollar-denominated bond in world history.
Before then, it is on record that under his leadership, the shareholders of the Bank from 80 countries all approved a general capital increase of $115 billion for the institution, which is said to be the largest in its history. Since establishment in 1964, the AfDB remains Africa’s biggest multilateral lender and has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.
We commend Obasanjo for this uncommon act of statesmanship and rallying African leaders to deflate Trump’s bullying and challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to complement this noble gesture by mobilizing his fellow Heads of State and governments to fully throw their weight behind Adesina’s second term bid and ensure total compliance with the Bank’s rules and regulations.
The AfDB, in our view, has been a pride of Africans and its President, Dr Adesina, an acclaimed performer, who had taken the Bank to enviable heights. Therefore, no efforts should spared by the shareholders to defend this reputation and the institution especially at this critical time that Africa and the world are battling with COVID-19 pandemic devastating consequences on mankind.
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