WE join all people of goodwill all over the world to urge the United States government and others behind the call for an independent investigation of the African Development Bank, ADB, President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, to allow him to face his work without further distraction.
With three months left of his first five years, Adesina was looking forward to a re-election after a hugely successful term when suddenly some faceless members of the Bank's staff raised 20 whistleblower allegations of corruption and impropriety against the ADB President.
The Bank's Board of Directors constituted an ethics committee, made up of representatives of the shareholders, to look into the allegations in line with the internal rules of the organisation. The probe completely exonerated Adesina. But the United States, an offshore shareholder of the Bank with 6.5 per cent, is demanding an independent investigation of the allegations, perhaps in a bid to scuttle Adesina's re-election.
A letter to this effect from the US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, is seen by experts as "putting the ADB on notice" on a possible pullout by President Donald Trump who has established a clear track record of withdrawing his country from multilateral organisations that do not fit into his "America First" agenda. Some even fear a takeover bid.
Meanwhile, Adesina has maintained his innocence and says he has nothing to hide. Since the allegations broke out, there has been a groundswell of support for Adesina from within Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria's Federal Government with a strong anti-corruption agenda and also the Bank's largest shareholder with 9.1 per cent, has declared support for Adesina to run for a second term. So also has the African Union's Executive Board. Also, a former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who issued a written support for Adesina, has successfully rallied 15 former African leaders to jointly declare their support for him.
It is obvious that Africa, the group for which this Bank was set up, is satisfied with Adesina's performance and wishes that he continues with his good work. This support is based on the innovative and reformatory programmes Adesina has promoted since his election in 2015.
These include rallying 80 countries to increase the capital of the ADB by $115 billion, the largest since it was founded in 1964. Adesina's High 5 agenda has positively impacted 333 million people in Africa in the areas of access to electricity, food security, private sector financing, water and sanitation as well as transportation.
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina has also successfully mobilised a $3 billion COVID-19 social bond and a $10 billion crisis response fund for Africa. These are just a few of the achievements the Bank has recorded under Akinwunmi for which he was endorsed for re-election.
We call on the US to respect the established rules and governance structures of the Bank and allow Adesina his right to vie for a second. That is what Africa wants.