Nigeria: Buhari Vows Nigeria's Unflinching Support for Adesina

3 June 2020

Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured the embattled President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, of Nigeria's unwavering commitment to his second term bid.

The president, while hosting Adesina, who visited him at the State House in Abuja, said the African Union (AU) had already ratified his candidacy for re-election.

The president spoke against the backdrop of a subterranean campaign to knock out Adesina from the race with allegations of impropriety levelled against him by some AfDB officials.

Although the bank's ethics committee, in a report, already upheld by AfDB Governing Board, had cleared him of the allegations, the United States, the largest non-African shareholder, rejected the report.

The US, now supported by other non-African shareholders such as Britain, Norway, Finland, and Denmark, called for an independent panel to probe the allegations, despite the suggestion being outside the governance procedures of the continental bank.

The US' advocacy is widely regarded as a ploy by non-African shareholders of the multilateral institution to deny Adesina a second term in office.

But Buhari, according to a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, told Nigeria's former minister of Agriculture that if he had gladly supported Adesina when he served as a minister in the opposition party in 2015, he would do more for him now; more so that no Nigerian had faulted the support he offered him then.

He said: "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 Peoples 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."

The president pledged Nigeria's preparedness to work with other leaders and stakeholders of AfDB to ensure Adesina's re-election in view of the record of his achievements during his first term.

The statement explained that whereas AU had already endorsed Adesina as the sole candidate for the continent, some other stakeholders wanted him to be re-investigated over some allegations, with a view to frustrating his second term bid.

The statement added that AfDB boss told Buhari that 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."

Adesina told the president that the Ethics' Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, adding that calls for a fresh investigation by the US were antithetical to the rules.

He said: "My defence 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."

Adesina explained that the motive behind the fresh call was to soil both his name and that of the bank, saying he was proud to be a Nigerian and thanked 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 stated.

Adesina commiserated with Buhari over the death of his former Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, and described his replacement, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as "a man of integrity and of global standing."

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