Understanding the African Development Bank Squabble

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By Dorcas Omotayo

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In the light of the current hurdles Akinwumi Adesina is confronted with, as a result of the allegations presented against him, his chances of re-election thin out each passing day. Mr. Adesina who has been described in recent time as flamboyant and a sharp dresser was appointed president of the African Development Bank in 2015.

Since the inception of the 56year old institution, it has seen seven presidents with Mr Adesina as the Eighth and first Nigerian to head the institution. The question on your mind may be, what is the fuss about the institution and its leadership? AfDB group with headquarters in Abidjan was established in order to promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in Africa. Its constituent institutions are; The African Development Bank (ADB), The African Development Fund (ADF) and The Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). The Shareholders include 54 African countries (regional member countries) and 26 non-African countries (non-regional member countries).

Political fights in AfDB is not an entirely new phenomenon. Recall that in 2005, according to a report, some worry about an overbearing Nigerian leading the institution which, as the biggest African shareholder, likes to throw its weight around in the bank. Even though Africa Government own over 60% of the AfDB shares but to win, the candidate must have substantial support not only from Africa but also from the non-African shareholders, who provide vital soft loan resources. Eventually, Donald Kaberuka emerged as president of AfDB with backing from the western donors.

Fast forward to 2015, Mr Kaberuka, who was hailed as a true and trusted voice for Africa, stepped down for Mr Adesina. Among the key achievements of the AfDB Boss from 2015 would include, decentralizing bank operations to regional offices, moving into skills training to counter youth unemployment, maintaining the banks’ AAA rating by all the four major global rating agencies and Refocusing agriculture around commercialization. According to Dabady Liverani – a manager in AfDB – “There is no reason why the country that exports the most cocoa in the world, Côte d’Ivoire, shouldn’t be branding its own chocolate bars,” she said.

However, in 2019, Mr Adesina told reporters in Malabo that he would be seeking to renew his presidency in 2020 when his first term comes to an end, which will be in August 2020. It may interest you to know that he is the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August. But of course, the powers that be will always attempt to circumvent the rule of law. Could this be a witch-hunt or purely a case of Africa against the world? But then, it could all be geopolitics and the battle for control of the western donors. We are left to think on these things in the face of current allegations against the Nigerian Boss.

According to a report by TheAfricaReport, allegations against him by a group of “concerned staff member” were about 16. Among them are; unusual managerial style, impunity and nepotism, mismanagement of human resources, financial waste and lack of budgetary discipline. Weeks after, the ethics committee found no evidence to support allegations of favoritism by Adesina. In reply to all the allegations against him, the AfDB boss gave the assurance that they are false and that he has a clear conscience. He further stated that, “I will stay calm and resolute. I will not be distracted. No amount of lies can ever cover up the truth. Soon the truth will come out.”

While we wait for the promised truth, sources have claimed that this has nothing to do with the United States of America meddling in the affairs of the institution but could be a personal vendetta by some colleagues. But African leaders – including ex-president Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan – are not going to wait for the truth as they rallied to support him in the face of the current challenges.

If Mr Adesina has been exonerated, what then is the essence of a fresh probe as requested by the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin? Is it necessary? Except false evidences would be planted to indict him, then there is absolutely no need for a fresh investigation. Some may opine that if the AfDB boss has nothing to hide, he should not obstruct a fresh probe but at the end of the day, it would portray the institution as incompetent, weak and unreliable. The moment an institution like AfDB which serves Africa is seen in this light, then we can kiss our credibility and ratings goodbye.

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