Former African presidents release joint statement backing embattled African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina

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In an unprecedented move, former African heads of state and government released a jointly signed letter on Friday, backing the embattled President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, after the United States and several other European countries called for a fresh “impartial” and “independent” probe against him.

The letter was signed by Olusegun Obasanjo (President of Nigeria; 1999-2007), Boni Yayi (President of Benin; 2006-2016), Hailemariam Desalegn (Prime Minister of Ethiopia; 2012 – 2018), John Kufour (President of Ghana; 2001 – 2009), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia; 2006 – 2018), Joyce Banda (President of Malawi; 2012 – 2014), Joaquim Chissano (President of Mozambique; 1986 – 2005), Tandja Mamadou (President of Niger; 1999 – 2010), Goodluck Jonathan (President of Nigeria; 2010-2015), Mohamed Marzouki (President of Tunisia; 2011 – 2014), Benjamin Mkapa (President of Tanzania; 1995 – 2005).

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It was endorsed by Ameenah Gurib-Fakin (President of Mauritius; 2015 – 2018), Rupiah Banda (President of Zambia; 2008 – 2011), Kgalema Motlanthe (President of South Africa; 2008-2009) and Jakaya Kikwete (President of Tanzania; 2005 – 2015).

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The African leaders urged all shareholders to work together, called for caution and expressed support for Adesina.

“The African Development Bank (AfDB), under the leadership of its President, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, has been doing a remarkable job in steering the organization. The Bank announced a $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries in Africa. The Bank also successfully launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19 social bond, the largest ever US dollar denominated bond in world history,” they wrote in their letter.

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“Powered by his vision and leadership, the shareholders of the Bank from 80 countries all approved a general capital increase of $115 billion for the Bank, the largest in its history since establishment in 1964. The Bank has been doing a lot for women, with a $3 billion fund to provide access of finance to women, supported by G7 countries and Africa.

“Across the continent, the Bank’s presence and work have been highly visible and impactful. In less than five years, the Bank’s High 5 agenda has impacted over 333 million people, from access to electricity, food security, access to finance via the private sector, improve transport and access to water and sanitation.

“The Bank has maintained its stellar AAA rating among all global rating agencies. The shareholders of the Bank have all played very important roles in supporting the Bank to achieve these impressive results,” they added.

Read full letter below.

Leadership of the African Development Bank: A Need for Caution

Africa is facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 and all hands must
be on deck to tackle the pandemic.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), under the leadership of its President, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, has been doing a remarkable job in steering the organization. The Bank announced a $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries in Africa. The Bank also successfully launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19 social bond, the largest ever US dollar denominated bond in world history.

Powered by his vision and leadership, the shareholders of the Bank from 80 countries all approved a general capital increase of $115 billion for the Bank, the largest in its history since establishment in 1964. The Bank has been doing a lot for women, with a $3 billion fund to provide access of finance to women, supported by G7 countries and Africa.

Across the continent, the Bank’s presence and work have been highly visible and impactful. In less than five years, the Bank’s High 5 agenda has impacted over 333 million people, from access to electricity, food security, access to finance via the private sector, improve transport and access to water and sanitation.

The Bank has maintained its stellar AAA rating among all global rating agencies. The shareholders of the Bank have all played very important roles in supporting the Bank to achieve these impressive results.

This is why we are concerned with the recent developments at the Bank. Dr. Adesina, who some whistleblowers alleged to have violated the Banks’ Code of Ethics, has firmly and consistently declared his innocence of these allegations. The Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, a legal oversight body of the Bank, made up of representatives of shareholders, cleared Dr. Adesina of all 16 allegations, declaring them as baseless and unsubstantiated and exonerated him completely. The Chairman of the Board of Governors, based on the report of the Ethics Committee, declared Dr. Adesina exonerated. We understand that the Bank fully followed its rules, procedures and governing systems, which have served it well since African countries established it in 1964.

Governance is all about respecting and abiding by rules, laws and established governing systems of organizations. In the case of the AfDB, while differences may exist among parties, the best way to address them is to first respect the rules, procedures and governance structures of the Bank. To do otherwise will be tantamount to undermining the
Bank and its long and hard earned reputation, and that of its President.

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.

Differences will always occur but we urge that all shareholders work together. All shareholders should work with mutual respect, and honour the rules and procedures of the Bank and its governance systems that have served it well for 56 years. No nation, regardless of how powerful, has a veto power over the African Development Bank, and no nation should have such power.

SIGNED:
H.E Olusegun Obasanjo (President of Nigeria; 1999-2007)
H.E Boni Yayi (President of Benin; 2006-2016)
H.E Hailemariam Desalegn (Prime Minister of Ethiopia; 2012 – 2018)
H.E John Kufour (President of Ghana; 2001 – 2009)
3
H.E Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia; 2006 – 2018)
H.E Joyce Banda (President of Malawi; 2012 – 2014)
H.E Joaquim Chissano (President of Mozambique; 1986 – 2005)
H.E Tandja Mamadou (President of Niger; 1999 – 2010)
H.E Goodluck Jonathan (President of Nigeria; 2010-2015)
H.E Mohamed Marzouki (President of Tunisia; 2011 – 2014)
H.E Benjamin Mkapa (President of Tanzania; 1995 – 2005)
ENDORSED BY:
H.E Ameenah Gurib-Fakin (President of Mauritius; 2015 – 2018)
H.E Rupiah Banda (President of Zambia; 2008 – 2011)
H.E Kgalema Motlanthe (President of South Africa; 2008-2009)
H.E Jakaya Kikwete (President of Tanzania; 2005 – 2015)

The Donald Trump administration insisted in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Thursday that the embattled President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina should be “impartially” and “independently” investigated to “ensure there is broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate among shareholders for the AfDB’s leadership.”

“The United States continues to value the AfDB and its efforts to promote development, reduce poverty, and address the current health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the African continent,” a U.S. Treasury spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.

“As Secretary Mnuchin underscored in his letter to the Chair of the Board of Governors, the United States strongly urges an impartial, independent investigation to ensure there is broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate among shareholders for the AfDB’s leadership.

“Undertaking an independent evaluation of facts is not at odds with a presumption of innocence, and by promoting transparency and good governance, can only strengthen the AfDB’s capacity to deliver results to people across Africa,” the spokesperson added.

It was the first time the Trump administration had directly and publicly addressed the issue since U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent a letter on May 22 to the African Development Bank Board of Governors, rejecting an internal investigation that cleared Adesina of allegations of favoritism and nepotism, and demanding a new independent investigation.

Bloomberg quoted two persons familiar with deliberations on the matter as confirming that a new probe will take place, after unidentified whistleblowers accused Adesina, 60, of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions.

The report quoted the two persons as saying “Africa’s largest multilateral lender decided on the inquiry after several governments backed U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s criticism of a bank-led examination into the allegations”.

The report said Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are among countries that wrote to the AfDB to back the Mnuchin’s demands for professional outsiders to look into the allegations.

But in a statement made public on Thursday but dated May 27, the AFDB said a decision on its embattled President had not been reached, adding that it was however treating allegations against him seriously.

While the board said Adesina has not been asked to resign, it neither denied nor confirmed it had agreed to open a new probe against Adesina following pressures from the Trump administration.

It did not say whether Adesina would be asked to ‘step back’ if a new probe is opened as requested by the United States and other countries backing a second probe.

The Board of Governors Chairperson, Mrs. Niale Kaba, called on the public to allow due process to follow course, adding that all board members would be consulted before a decision is reached.

The proposed investigation comes three months before the bank’s annual meeting, at which Adesina is the sole candidate to extend his five-year term.

The AAA-rated lender’s 80 shareholders in October pledged to provide funding that will help to more than double its capital base to $208 billion.

In a statement on Wednesday, Adesina said he was innocent of the “trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honor and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank”

Adesina, a Nigerian citizen, said he was confident that “fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution”.

On Thursday, Nigeria began defending countryman Akinwumi, praising him for his achievements at the AFDB.

In a statement, the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, a.k.a “Mama loans”, defended Adesina in a letter to the Chairperson of the African Development Bank’s board of governors, Mrs. Kaba Niale.

She praised him for a job well done, and listed some of his achievements at the bank and in Africa.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

4 COMMENTS

  1. The Trump and the likes think they can still colonies Africans. No, the tide has changed the current of Afican development has taken another course. We will not agree to cheap properganda, Adeshin Should continue

  2. I happily supported our elders statesmen for a great move of support. This Africa thing and not America or European and I believe we can handle it and with visionary leader like Dr Akinwunmi Adesina we can be free from white slavery and their international politics and games will not work here because Africa in unity we stand…

  3. Yes,this move by our former leaders is worthy of commendation. Let’s tell these whites for once that we are one. Even God is happy,am sure

  4. I commend our African Leaders and Elder Statesmen for their sterling support for an African project. Unity and solidification of we Africans, both at home and in the diaspora is the only sure way to break this seemingly eternal grip-hold on the collective destiny and growth of our dear continent.
    I stand with Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and other Africans on their contributions to the AFDB to make her the “primus inter pares”. We can do it. God bless Africa!!!

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