Akinwumi Adesina: FG rallies support for embattled AfDB President, criticises call for ‘independent investigation’

Akinwumi Adesina: FG rallies support for embattled AfDB President, criticises call for ‘independent investigation’

The Nigerian government has rallied support for the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.

This was contained in a letter dated Thursday, May 28, by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who urged the board of the AfDB to ignore calls for an independent investigation of Akinwumi Adesina.

Ahmed urged Kaba Niale, chairman of the AfDB board of governors, to follow laid down processes to protect and also preserve the bank.

“The 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 president,” the letter reads.

Nigeria is the bank’s biggest shareholder.

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“The call for an ‘independent investigation’ of the President is outside of the laid down rules, procedures” of the AfDB, Ahmed said in the letter.

On Wednesday, Akinwumi Adesina issued a statement that insisted he was innocent; lashed the accusations as “trumped up” and vowed to continue working.

Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo also gave Adesina his support in a letter dated Tuesday; saying the U.S. treasury secretary had “ridiculed” the bank’s governance as well as urging African leaders to stand up.

“If we do not rise up and defend the AfDB, this might be the end of the Afdb,” he said.

In a petition by a group of whistleblowers, Adesina was accused of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct; including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”

The group, which noted their allegations were likewise in line with AfDB’s whistleblowing policy; said these activities adversely affected the confidence as well as integrity of the bank.

The bank, however, found the allegations to be “frivolous.”

In response to the letter by Ahmed, the AfDB on Thursday, May 28; said “no decision” had been taken regarding a U.S. push for an outside probe into its chief, accused by whistleblowers of ethics breaches.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Washington is dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal inquiry that has exonerated AfDB chief Akinwumi Adesina.

Kaba, who is also Ivory Coast’s minister of development, said the panel met on Tuesday; “to examine the issue emerging from a whistleblowers’ complaint” against Adesina.

“No decision has been taken,” she said in a statement in French; countering what she said was information “falsely conveyed by certain media.”

Kaba also said that “in no case has (Adesina) been asked to resign” — some media reports have sketched the possibility of a “withdrawal” from office by the bank chief, who is seeking a second term.

He is the only candidate in an election that was set for late May; but which has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In October 2019, the AfDB raised $115 billion (105 billion euros) in fresh capital; an operation deemed a personal success for Akinwumi Adesina.

It is the only African institution that has a triple-A rating by credit rating agencies.

The bank has 80 state shareholders, 54 of which are African, while others are from the Americas; Asia; as well as Europe.

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