Stage Set For Re-election, As Independent Panel Clears Adesina Of Wrongdoing At AfDB

All is now set for the re-election of Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the only candidate up for election at an annual meeting expected to hold next month, for a second and final five-year term.

This followed his clearance of allegations of wrongdoing during his first five years of superintending over the institution by an independent panel led by former Irish President Mary Robinson.

The government of Nigeria, Adesina’s home country and largest single shareholder of the bank, says it is behind his re-election as sole candidate for a second five-year term at the election originally slated for May 28, but now rescheduled for August.

The panel, which was constituted barely three weeks ago on July 3, 2020, said it found no evidence to support allegations of favoritism by Adesina, who is vying for a second and final five-year stint as chief executive of the Africa’s biggest multilateral lender.

The AfDB’s board of governors had in a communiqué at the end of its June 4, meeting estimated that the review panel comprising “neutral high caliber individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity,” would take no “more than two to four weeks maximum.”

The panel, which also has former Gambian Attorney General, Hassan Jallo and ex-South African Director of Public Prosecutions, Leonard McCarthy, as members, said it was “satisfied” with the findings of a the initial panel. The probe followed allegations by an unidentified whistle-blower who accused Adesina of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions in the Abidjan-based lender, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

“The panel concurs with the findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the committee,” it wrote in the document dated July 27.

The bank’s ethics committee had dismissed much of the complaints in an April 26 report on the basis that the whistleblowers did not provide evidence to back them.

The panel’s setup had followed from a compromise reached after bank shareholders — led by the U.S. and including several non-regional member states — called for an independent review of the internal probe.

“It appears to us to be an undue burden to expect the holder of high office in an international organization, to prove a negative, in the absence of sufficient grounds,” the independent panel wrote.

The AfDB is owned by 54 nations on the continent and 27 other countries. The U.S. holds the largest stake after Nigeria, the home country of Adesina.

Nigeria holds 9.1% equity stake in the AfDB; followed by the US with 6.5%; Egypt, 5.5%; Japan, 5.4%; South Africa, 4.9%; Algeria, 4.1%; Germany, 4%; Canada, 3.8%; Ivory Coast, 3.7%; and France, 3.6%.

The 60-year-old former Agric Minister of Nigeria during the Goodluck Jonathann Presidency, who had repeatedly denied the allegations, said in a May 27 statement that “fair, transparent and just processes” would confirm his innocence.

In a two-page letter addressed to Mrs. Kaba Niale, chairman of the AfDB’s board of governors on Thursday, May 28, 2020, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, decried ongoing attempts to investigate Adesina for perceived offences outside of the bank’s rule book.

Instead, she urged that the bank’s “laid down process be followed to protect and preserve our bank.”

The call for an “independent investigation” of the same matter that the Ethics Committee had cleared Adesina of, she insisted, “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.”

She challenged the board to “uphold the rule of law and respect the governance systems of the bank,” adding that should there be any governance issues in need of improvement, it can be considered and amendments proposed for adoption in line with laid down procedures.

Adesina who is sole candidate, she stressed, is deserving of re-election which should have been done on Thursday May 28, 2020, an event now postponed to August 25-27.

For the benefit of doubt, Mrs. Ahmed said Adesina “has delivered impactful programmes and impressive results at the bank,” including securing General Capital Increase of $115bn, the largest ever n the history of the bank.

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