President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that Nigeria will stand solidly behind Dr Akinwumi Adesina in his bid to get re-elected as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)
The president spoke at the State House, Abuja, Tuesday, while hosting Mr Adesina.
“In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position. I didn’t say because you were a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Minister, and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC), so I would withhold my support. I’ll remain consistent with you, because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria,” said Buhari.
The president pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Mr Adesina was elected for a second term built on the record of his achievements during his first term.
Mr Adesina is facing allegations of corruption at the bank and is being investigated.
He denies the allegations and had earlier been cleared of the claims raised by a whistleblower group, but the United States, the bank’s second-largest shareholder after Nigeria, has called for an external probe.
The Nigerian government and other African leaders have been rallying support for Mr Adesina who is seeking a second five-year term.
Giving a background to what was happening in the bank, Mr Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”
He added that the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, and calls for fresh investigation by the United States of America, were against the rules.
“My defense ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned. The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations. That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched. I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion,” Mr Adesina said.
Stressing that the motive was to soil his name, and that of the bank, the AfDB president said he was proud to be Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.
“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election” he declared.
While commiserating with President Buhari on the death of the former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Mr Adesina described Professor Ibrahim Gambari, new Chief of Staff as “a man of integrity, and of global standing.”
In like manner, former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the board of the African Development Bank to ignore calls for an independent investigation of its President, Akinwumi Adesina, by the United States Government.
Obasanjo in a letter dated May 26 to Kaba Niale, Chairman of the AfDB board of governors, urged the organisation to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.
He asked African leaders to speak against introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedures, laws, rules and regulations of the bank.
He said, “Unfortunately, the United States Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the Chairman of the board of governors of the bank”.
“Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the bank, they called for an independent investigation”.
“This 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″.
“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.
“As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its board of directors to approve a $10bn crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the bank successful launched a $53bn “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75 per cent interest rate.”