AfDB crisis: African Governments rejects whistleblowers allegations, declare support for Adesina

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Fifteen former African Presidents on Friday declared their support for the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina following call for a fresh probe by the US. Among them are two former Nigerian Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo had in a letter dated May 26, addressed to thirteen former African leaders, sought a joint effort of the leaders to defend the Bank from being “hijacked.”

Obasanjo expressed worry that despite Adesina’s performance at the Bank, there were plots to frustrate his re – election slated for August this year.

“The African Development Bank is a pride for all of Africa, and its President, Dr. Adesina, has taken the Bank to enviable heights.

At this critical time that Africa is battling with COVID-19, the Bank and its President should not be distracted,” the African leaders said in a joint statement issued on Friday.

Protect and Preserve the Bank Apparently miffed by the United States of America’s stance on the alleged ethical impropriety allegations leveled against the African Development Bank (AfDB’s) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, by some faceless ‘Concerned Staff’ of the bank, the Federal Government on Thursday charged the Board of development finance institution to ignore the U.S call and follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

The Federal Government, in a letter with Ref No. HMFBNP/OHMFBNP/ADB/ECR/2020 dated 28th May, 2020 written by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, written to the Board chair, Madame Kaba NIALE and sourced by Daily Trust, asked the Board to stand by the report of its Ethics Committee on the trumped up allegations leveled against the Nigerian-born AfDB President.

The letter reads in part: “The Nigerian Government has been following very closely the above matter, subsequent to the conclusion and admission of the formal report of the Ethics Committee and decision of the Chair of the Board of the Governors, Honorable Minister Kaba NIALE of Cote d’Ivoire.

“The Ethics Committee, following three months of work to examine the whistleblowers’ allegations made against the President, dismissed each and every one of the allegations of the whistleblowers against the President as unsubstantiated and baseless.

“The Nigerian Government welcomes this conclusion of the Ethics Committee and the decision of the Chair of the Board of Governors”, the minister stated.

According to her, the U.S call for an independent investigation of the president 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 AfDB’s president.

Adesina still in charge Meanwhile, the Bureau of the Board of Governors of the African Development (AfDB) in a statement issued on Thursday by its chair, Madame Niale Kaba, debunked media reports that it had asked the Bank’s president, Dr.
Akinwumi Adesina, to face a fresh probe. Kaba maintained that the Board had not taken any fresh decision on Adesina as falsely reported in the media.

She stated, inter alia that: “I must emphasise that there is no governance or constitutional crisis at the African Development Bank Group.

It is indeed false that the President of the Bank Group has been or is being asked to step down from his position.

“Everyone must allow the Bureau to do its work and allow due process to reign. All the Governors will be carried along in resolving the issue”, Kaba assured.

The allegations in summary Even though Adesina had reportedly “cleared” the allegations levelled against him and therefore to certain extent improved his chances of getting a second term, the United States’ Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, unequivocally objected the purported “in-house” exoneration of the embattled Adesina by the AfDB board.

Analysts believed this might not be unconnected with the position of the whistle-blowers who insisted for the urgent commission of an independent investigation into the alleged excesses of Adesina.

The 20-count allegations against Adesina bordered on recruitment, awarding contracts to friends and associates, alleged preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians, using resources of the bank to receive awards and political lobbying for his re-election.

Though the Daily Trust could not get a response from him, Adesina, in a statement issued on Monday, April 6, 2020, and published by Le Monde, debunked the claims by the whistle blowers saying he will continue to work with the Board of AfDB to resolve all issues contained in the petition.

He stated: “An article in Le Monde has come to my attention.

Following its publication, I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous show of support and solidarity I have continued to receive. “The African Development Bank has a very high reputation of good governance.

“The bank was rated as the 4th most transparent institution in the world by Publish What You Fund.

“I have strong confidence in the governance systems of the bank put in place by the board of governors of the bank.

“The ethics committee of the board of directors is following its internal review systems and should be allowed to complete its review and work without interference from anyone or the media.

“I am 100 per cent confident that due process and transparency, based on facts and evidence, will indicate that these are all nothing more than spurious and unfounded allegations.

“I would like all our highly dedicated bank staff, shareholders and partners not to be moved or shaken by any of these blatantly false allegations. “I will stay calm and resolute.

I will not be distracted. No amount of lies can ever cover up the truth. Soon the truth will come out,” he said.

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