Trouble Looms The African Development Bank President

Elected as the 8th President of the African Development Bank and the Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina has been subject of several allegations in the past few months. He Succeeded Donald Kaberuka of Rwanda, and resumed office on September 1st, 2015 in Abidjan.

“Whistle-blowers” within the organization have raised corruption and favouritism allegations against the AfDB President, hence frustrating his election efforts for a second term as President of this prestigious organization. It has been reported that the President has, since his election in 2015, been involved in lobbying head of states, arbitrary recruitment, private gain, impediment to efficiency, nepotism, use of bank resources for private gains, singlehandedly overruling decisions taken by the directors, and appointing his close friends within the organization without following due process. Thus, contributing in depleting confidence among major stakeholders and partners of the bank, especially the United States government.

The 16 counts alleged against Mr. Adesina were cleared by the AfDB’s Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, after a preliminary examination of whistle blower’s complaint received on January 19th, 2020. The committee headed by Takuji Yano described the allegations as “spurious and unfounded.” It should also be noted that the United States being a member of the bank expressed “deep reservation about the integrity of the committee process” and called for a fresh, in-depth, investigation of the pending allegations.

In addition, on May 22nd, the U.S. Department of Treasury under the auspices of Steven Mnuchin, faulted the committee’s decision to totally exonerate Mr. Adesina of all allegations, in a letter flagged to the chairperson of the bank’s Board of Governors Mr. Nialé Kaba. The U.S. Treasury requested that an independent outside investigator of high professional standing needs to perform an evaluation of all allegations before the Ethics Committee can make a decision.

However, according to the AfDB’s Article 3, of resolution No. B/BG/2008/11, which contains the AfDB’s “Whistleblowing and Complaints Handling Policy,” authorizes the Committee to kick start preliminary examinations of the complaints brought before them, and if the complaint is found frivolous or not based on any objective and solid facts, the resolution empowers the Committee to dismiss such case.

A list of the 16 counts levied against the AfDB President by the Group of Concerned Staff of the Bank follows:

  1. Non-respect of internal rules and regulations in recruitment;
  2. Appointment of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, a Nigerian citizen;
  3. Mismanagement of the TAAT programme;
  4. Appointment and promotions of Mr. Martin Fregene. He is the alleged brother in law to the president;
  5. Appointments and promotions of Mrs. Maria Mulundi. A close friend and long professional ties with the President;
  6. Direct contracting and appointment of Mr. Victor Oladokun. A childhood friend to the President;
  7. Contracting of Mr. Kapil Kapoor;
  8. Appointment of Mr. Emmanuel Ezinwa;
  9. Preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians;
  10. Settlements for staff separations;
  11. Resignation of Mr. David Ssegawa;
  12. Settlements for staff separations;
  13. Resignation of Mr. Michel-Cyr Djiena-Wembou;
  14. Appointment of Mr. Charles Lufumpa as acting VP and Chief Economist;
  15. Disregard of rules concerning leave of absence of VPs or travel of management;
  16. Political lobbying of Heads of State.

After these allegations were levied upon him, Mr. Adesina said in a memo that the move to let him out is not linked to any fraudulent action, but to his re-election bid. It should be noted that he is the only man standing for re-election. Pursuant to resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 the Ethics Committee held a series of meetings between February 4th and April 9th, 2020 to enable their review of documents and presentations, as it conducted the “preliminary examination” of the allegations against Mr. Adesina. After a detailed investigation by the Ethics Committee, it was clear to say Mr. Adesina has been vindicated, though the U.S. government is insisting on a fresh and deeper probe into the matter.

In a bid to ‘clear the air,’ Mr. Adesina accused the petitioners of violating section 6.7.2 of the whistle blowing policy of the bank, by breaching the confidentiality of the proceedings. Furthermore, he accused petitioners of conniving with people outside of the AfDB system. This can also be proved by the “Disassociation Note” written by a group of independent bank staff members on March 9th, 2020 in which they explained they were “manipulated by a group of non regional Executive Directors behind Mr (Steven) Dowd to discredit the candidacy of the current president for his re-election.’’

In conclusion, The Nigerian government addressed a letter to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the AfDB expressing support for the work Adesina was doing at the institution, and has dismissed all allegations of corruption levelled against him. Views in the African continent believe the institution is a strong one with healthy processes and laws. Therefore, it commends the effort of the Ethics Committee on its findings and calls for the financial institutions to shun calls for a fresh probe on the president tenure.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
Together we can make it happen. Say No to violence

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