Abuja — Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, at the weekend, demanded justice in an independent probe of allegations over abuse of office leveled against the President of African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
The leaders of the CSOs including All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN; Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC; YIAGA AFRICA; Concerned Nigerians, CN; and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, made the demand while speaking with Vanguard, on-call for an independent probe by the United States of America, USA, on the allegations brought against Adesina.
The National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, while reacting to the allegations and call for an independent probe accused the US of intimidating Adesina, because of his ambition in seeking re-election for a second term in office.
Ibrahim also urged African countries to stand by the AfDB's boss in this trying time as he had made effort through the bank to reposition the bank on the path of growth and towards a prosperous Africa.
H e said: "Dr. Adesina, AfDB President should be allowed to continue the good work he is doing at the AfDB without any dictation from the US.
"The good job Dr. Adesina is doing for African countries who are the majority shareholders at the AfDB should be the real reason for the support for his second term bid as such we should all rally round him regardless of what the US feels about the renewal of his term."
He also challenged African leaders not to be cowed to this as far as democracy is concerned.
"Majority carries the vote in a democracy so it will be shameful for Africans to be dictated upon in spite of this.
"I call on all well-meaning nations to stand up against the seeming disrespect from the US. The option to be left to the US is to accept the will of the majority or withdraw its equity.
"We should not succumb to this because no African country can contemplate moving against the leadership of the World Bank or UN and succeed", he stated.
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said the request by the US for an independent inquiry into the allegations seems to be slippery.
"The request by the US for an independent inquiry into the allegations leveled against Dr. Akinwumi Adesina is a slippery demand that could be used or influenced to deny him a deserving second term as the AfDB President.
"You never can tell what the Americans are up to in making this demand, but one thing that is very clear to any discerning observer is that the US certainly has the interest to advance or protect over this matter", Atoye said.
He also cautioned that Nigeria and other African countries should be careful not to insinuate conspiracy theory in the matter, rather should be up in the game of international politics.
"However, we should be careful in peddling or advancing all sorts of conspiracy theories about this raging controversy, our preoccupation should be how to play the international politics involved in this game, to the advantage of Adesina, because the US is a no-push over and you never can tell how much of influences it is wielding on the other voting blocs in AfDB.
"The Nigerian government holds the ace in using international diplomacy to get the US to abandon this anti-Adesina call because it is also capable of undermining and unsettling the Bank.
"There is a way out of this desperate situation, and I believe that it could be addressed in such a manner that the US would be prevailed upon to drop this tricky and slippery demand", he stated.
He also added and acknowledged that "Adesina is a great man, he has done well for the country, continent, and humanity, and it is not contestable that he is better positioned to do more in his second term. It is therefore incumbent on us all, to support him, diplomatically and politically, and also to see him through this trying period."
In another reaction, the Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, asserted that African leaders should be united now to protect Africa's sovereignty, the AfDB, and Adesina against perceived western powers and their antics.
"Africa should rise to protect its sovereignty against western forces who will go to any length to undermine our institutions. They are opposed to his Afrocentric views and don't want him to return.
"African leaders should rise to protect the AfDB against western interests. Adesina needs all the solidarity he required to keep up with the excellent work is he doing at the bank", Itodo said.
Also reacting to the allegations leveled against the AfDB's helmsman, the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, insisted that the probe should be transparent.
"I think that the US is overstepping its bounds in the sense that there has been a probe already on the issue and we know the US as stakeholder and many other countries as well who have put their money into the AfDB and accountability is one of the watch-words of governance. The US supposed not to come in and be calling for a probe because it is an African thing.
"I believe that the US should not over-influenced how the AfDB is being run, but on the issue on transparency and accountability I believe that Dr. Akinwumi Adesina ought to allow an independent probe.
"And I may agree with the position of many critics of the US that indeed the US is overstepping its bounds, but an independent probe this is what we expect naturally of public office holders that once someone has been accused either one abuse of office or the other but this Adesina's issue is not financial per se, it is the issue of accountability and abuse of office; he took award but is a personal thing or used instrument of office to either promote such an award whether by advertising or whatever. There are certain standards expected of public officials", Adeyanju stated.
He also added that the AfDB has experienced appreciable development and impact on the continent and expressed hope that he (Adesina) will come out cleared by the probe panel.
"For me, I don't see personally what he has done wrong. He has made significant strides in developing the bank, increased the capital base of the bank, and has been phenomenal as head of the bank and done so well.
"Whatever the criticism the US is doing should put vis-avis his achievements as head of the bank. For an independent probe if he has done nothing wrong will clear him and if he has done nothing wrong he needs not to fear. He is going to come out top in this matter because I believe in him", he said.
On the part of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, the allegations main borders on administrative and internal issues that should be settled by the board of the bank and not to allow it to escalate unnecessarily.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani said: "On these allegations against Adesina is first to look at the allegations leveled against him and to also look at his own defense against the allegations raised against him so that when we look at the two issues we can draw a conclusion.
"My own immediate concern is that wherever we find ourselves as Nigerians we should ensure that we demonstrate a character that would not give room for anybody to accuse us of anything.
"The allegation against Adesina that he had filled up the bank with mainly Nigerians, I think is something that can be administratively resolved if it is true because AfDB is owned by many stakeholders in Africa and outside Africa.
"But as long as it is not a financial misappropriation, stealing, or any connivance and criminal activities I think this can be administratively be resolved without raising too much concern. Unless there is any tangible evidence against him which should be resolved at the board level not to be escalated in the manner it is escalated.
"So if there is any allegation of imbalances in terms of management recruitment then the board can draw his attention and ensure that it is corrected, and in any case, the board should be aware of major management staff recruitment, and if they did not do anything that means it is not only Adesina that is faulty but also the stakeholders kept quiet but only for them to raise this issue they are tabling."
The CISLAC boss also pointed out some notable achievements recorded by the bank since Adesina assumed office as President.
"I think what is important is that since the assumption of Adesina with the many innovative programmes and projects that can help to address poverty, inequality, a job opportunity in Africa I think he should be encouraged and supported to continue some of these initiatives", he said.