Africa: AfDB - Reps Ask Bank's Board to Disregard Call for Fresh Probe

African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina addressing the 53rd Annual Meetings of the AfDB held in Busan, Korea. "Africa must stop being a museum of poverty. Its people are determined to reverse this trend…the world must also begin to look at Africa through an investment lens rather than as a development case,” Adesina told reporters on the sidelines of the Busan Annual Meetings.

The House of Representatives yesterday urged the board of African Development Bank (AfDB) to halt all further investigation of the president of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

The House also urged the federal government of Nigeria to call on all African leaders to intervene and rally round him and see to the end of the crisis.

The House however mandated the committees on ECOWAS Parliament and Pan African Parliament to investigate, resolve the matter and report to the House within reasonable time.

The House, while adopting a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by the minority leader, Ndudi Godwin Elumelu, also endorsed Adesina's campaign for a second term in office.

While leading his debate on the motion, Elumelu observed that Adesina had been very remarkable in steering the AfDB as its presence was highly visible and that it impacted much in less than five years.

He said, "Recently a group of whistleblowers petitioned Dr Adesina, accusing him of 16 breaches of the bank's code of conduct, some of which include private gains, impediments to efficiency, preferential treatment and involvement in political activities, which he has continued to deny.

"On investigation by the ethics committee of the board of directors, the allegations were found to be frivolous, unsubstantiated, lacking merit and Dr Adesina was exonerated of all the 16 allegations.

He further explained that investigation by the ethics committee of the board of directors revealed the allegations were found to be frivolous, unsubstantiated, lacked merit and therefore exonerated Adesina on all 16 allegations.

According to him, the chairman, board of governors, being satisfied that the committee had done a thorough job having followed all known rules and procedures of the bank in handling such cases declared Adesina exonerated.

Elumelu however expressed concerned that though the ethics committee of the board of directors followed the established law governing AFDB in arriving at their decision in absolving Adesina of the allegations, the United States treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin in a letter to the chairperson of the bank, Niale Koba, rejected the verdict of the committee and called for an independent investigation into the allegations against Adesina, whose tenure is due for renewal given the fact that he is the only contender to the office.

He said, "This interference portends a grave danger to the independence and laws governing the establishment of this organization and if not addressed will be tantamount to undermining the hard earned reputation of the bank.

"This action may be an attempt to discredit Adesina from seeking another term at the helm of Africa's largest multilateral lender, former African leaders in their wisdom led by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and signed by 11 other former African head of states and endorsed by 4 former African leaders issued a press statement showing the grave danger it portends to disregard the laws governing an institution such as the AFDB as well stating in clear terms that no nation no matter how powerful has a veto power over the African Development Bank.

"This sort of witch hunt and unnecessary harassment is not put to check and discouraged, it may become a recurring decimal thereby destabilizing the stability the bank has enjoyed for decades and the intended results on a steady decrease."

In his contribution, the member Boluwaduro/Ifedayo/Illa federal constituency of Osun State, Hon Olufemi Fakeye (APC), said Adesina had not lost sight and focus on his mandate.

He added that Adesina had remained Afrocentric and had insisted on the independence of the bank.

According to him, Adesina as AfDB president repositioned the bank to move Africa to the next level as he had set the continent on the path of industrialisation.

He said that under Adesina's watch, $10 billion was made available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On his part, the chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Protocols, Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) said that there was no true African that did not support how Adesina had run the bank in the last four years.

He, however, cautioned the House to get more facts before making recommendations so that its position would be fact-based.

Ossai described the ongoing call for investigation into the bank as "international politics," saying that there was need for the house to be more careful.

The lawmaker said that he was part of the committee that cleared Adesina for the office of the Minister of Agriculture and that he had no doubt about the integrity of the AfDB president.

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