•‘The genesis of travails’
By Yinka Ajayi
A new perspective into the travails of the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, was offered, yesterday, by a former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Professor Bola Akinterinwa, who described Adesina as a victim of colonial repression.
In a nutshell, Akinterinwa said the US wants Adesina out of AfDB because they believe he is not protecting their interest.
Adesina, a Nigerian, has been at the centre of allegations of impropriety at the Abidjan-based financial institution which have been a subject of inquiry by the Bank’s Ethics Committee.
The Committee cleared the AfDB chief but the United States Department of Treasury dismissed the verdict, calling for an independent investigation of the allegations against Adesina.
AfDB, a regional multilateral institution, is owned by African countries but the US is a major investor.
Nigerian and other African leaders have been rallying support for the AfDB chief who is completing his five-year-tenure but is entitled to another term.
The embattled Bank President had responded, point-by-point, to the 16 allegations made anonymously against him to the Ethics Committee.
Akinterinwa narrated the genesis of the travails of Adesina, saying it dates back to the tenure of another Nigeria, Dr. Olabisi Ogunjobi, as the AfDB Vice President, who opposed any form of colonial domination at the Bank.
“In international relations, allegations are political weapons used in disorganising opposition. With regards to Adesina’s re-election, US is a major investor at the AfDB, so in terms of votes, they have more to say than most African countries”, the former NIIA chief helmsman told Sunday Vanguard.
“Although former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari are among leaders backing Adesina’s re-election, the reason the West probably doesn’t want him is because US believes Adesina is not representing their interest.
“Before Adesina’s emergence as AfDB President, Dr. Olabisi Ogunjobi was Vice President of the Bank and he (Ogunjobi) kicked against any form of colonial domination. So, the US made sure he didn’t emerge as President of the AfDB before he retired.
“Ogunjobi didn’t allow America to suppress African interests. So, they ensured he was not appointed President. He was in the system, he grew up in the system. Adesina was expected to represent collective interest but the issue is, he made life better for most African countries by alleviating poverty in Africa.
“The West is not interested in Africa survival and Akinwunmi focuses more on African interests. If they eventually have their way, they may compensate Nigeria by electing another Nigerian that would protect the interest of the West. They are aware that Nigeria is also a big force to reckon with in taking decision in the Bank.
“The United States said he violated ethics of engagement, and the Bank asked the Ethics Committee to investigate. They did and they cleared Adesina. America said they didn’t believe in that finding; that a neutral body should be set-up. Obasanjo didn’t interfere with the incumbent President, he wrote a letter to other former African Presidents, he told them that they should not accept colonisation in another form. They objected to the moves, saying it was not provided for in the Bank’s Constitution.
“If the US eventually have their way, it will help African leaders to re-strategise and Africans would push more funds into the Bank just to have more votes or they insist they review the regulations as Obasanjo suggested.
“But it will bring about bad blood because the US is aware that Nigeria is a big contributor to the Bank. So, they will want to look for another Nigerian to replace Adesina who is also a Nigerian. In other words, America does not want Adesina.”
The AfDB chief has, in the meantime, responded to the allegations against him by whistle blowers, in a statement to the Bank’s Ethics Committee.
On the appointment of an official, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu. Adesina said she was recruited through a globally-advertised, open and competitive recruitment process.
*Adesina, on the appointment and elevation of another official, Mr. Martin Fregene, said: “He is not my brother-in-law. There is no evidence he is. Second, Mr. Fregene is a world-class geneticist, internationally renowned for his work on plant genetics of cassava, and who worked earlier at CIAT, Colombia, one of the CGIAR centres”.
*He pointed out that allegations against him concerning the TAAT are belied by objective and solid facts demonstrating no violation of the Code of Conduct. “TAAT is an initiative of the Bank developed to help take agricultural technologies to the scale of millions of farmers across Africa. “Although some staff made some mistakes in the procurement process, this is being investigated by the Bank and no findings have been made yet. There was no impropriety. “The president does not get involved in contractual issues in the Bank, except in cases involving matters that may affect the image, reputation and interests of the Bank,” he said.
*Concerning the appointments and promotions of Mrs Maria Mulundi, Adesina explained that she worked with him prior to joining the Bank. “She was part of my transition management team as I prepared to take office at the Bank following my election as President, and she very ably led all engagements with the Bank with my transition team. All Presidents of the Bank are allowed to bring in and appoint their own Chief of Staff and advisers, to help them to implement their mandate,” Adesina said.
*On the appointment of Victor Oladokun, he said they were in the university together and have been very close friends since then. Further, he noted, there was nothing in the Bank rules that says that being a friend of anyone in the Bank, who gets recruited at the Bank, is against Bank rules.
*He also pointed out that on contracting of Kapil Kapoor, AfDB, “under my chairmanship of the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) Heads, was tasked to help further develop my proposal to the group on how we can work collectively to leverage global institutional investors to invest in infrastructure and other sectors.”
*Another allegation was the appointment of Emmanuel Ezinwa who was allegedly found guilty of sexual harassment. He explained: “The truth is that I do not know Mr. Ezinwa and have never met him in the African Development Bank.”
*There was also the allegation of awards received by the President and costs borne by the Bank. Adesina said: “I received the World Food Prize ($250,000) and the Sunhak Peace Prize ($500,000) in recognition of a life of accomplishments in the field of agriculture. “Although they were individual prizes, they brought great credit and prestige to the AfDB.”
*On the allegation of settlements for staff separations, he said: “The allegation that somehow the former Chief Economist, Mr. Celestine Monga, departed the Bank with improper payments is false. The Chief Economist was not dismissed. Contract non-renewal is not dismissal of staff.”
*He also addressed the issue of Mr. Charles Lufumpa’s appointment as acting VP and Chief Economist: “The allegations against me over the appointment of Charles Lufumpa as Acting Vice President and Chief Economist are patently false. My conclusion after a careful review of the case of Charles Lufumpa is that the investigations conducted were very faulty and cannot prove the allegations made against him. My review also showed a well-orchestrated effort to make Mr Lufumpa a scapegoat for failures of others to do their job at the African Development Bank.”
*The 15th allegation was disregard for rules concerning leave of absence of VPs or travel of management. “The President does not monitor or manage time off for staff as that’s done by the Human Resources. The truth is the Vice President had personal medical issues that he had to get attended to (his private life must be respected) that required him to be away for extended periods, as needed, and he travelled with full knowledge of the department of health of the Bank, which was monitoring him while away on medical reasons,”he said.
*On political lobbying of Heads of State, Adesina said: “It is alleged that as President I basically bribed and corrupted the 16 African Heads of State and governments in the ECOWAS region to support my candidacy for re-election. The allegation essentially impugns the integrity, leadership and honesty of 16 African presidents and ECOWAS. This is a fanciful and baseless allegation”.
*In summary, Adesina said every single one of the 16 allegations against him remained unsubstantiated. “I have not violated the Code of Conduct”, the AfDB chief stated.