He has been going through some rough times lately. Accused of nepotism, cronyism and other related evils, Akinwumi Adesina is the subject of an investigation process through which his fate as head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is being played out. What about the review of his mandate ? Opinions diverge … Analysis.
When Akinwumi Adesina was elected President of the AfDB on May 28, 2015, he could not have expected such a turmoil. Undergoing investigation, his fate as head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is being decided as he seeks a new term.
It all started with an anonymous alert issued by members of the Bank accusing the President of nepotism, favoritism, “unethical behavior, self-enrichment, impediments to efficiency, favoritism, affecting confidence in the integrity of the bank and involvement in political activities” and even prevarication.
The conclusions of an internal investigation conducted by the ethics committee headed by Japanese administrator Takuji Yano are clear: the grievances are “unfounded, unsubstantiated and unsupported”. “After conducting a point-by-point examination of all the allegations contained in the complaint, the committee concluded that the complaint was not based on any objective and solid facts,” the report notes.
However, Akinwumi Adesina is not yet out of the woods, having been exonerated by this internal investigation. The whistleblowers firmly believe that the process of exonerating him “has been tainted by irregularities and manipulations” and have called for an independent external investigation on 9 May 2020.Thus, on June 4, the Board of Governors of the AfDB, chaired by Nialé Kaba, also the Ivorian Minister of Planning and Development, authorized “an independent review of the allegations” of whistleblowers.
“The whistleblowers’ complaint cannot be considered to be in good faith, as it is not intended to expose fraud, corruption or other acts of misconduct. On the contrary, it has other undisclosed motives”.This line of defense of the AfDB President, in a memorandum addressed to the ethics committee on April 8, deserves a stop, or at least is questionable.
It is not redundant to recall the existence of a positioning struggle at the head of the African Development Bank. The election of the Nigerian in 2015 at the top of the banking institution did not make everyone smile. We were already witnessing a kind of conflict between English-speaking and French-speaking shareholders for the takeover. And in this duel, Côte d’Ivoire, which is home to the Bank’s headquarters, occupies a prominent place.
The United States accused of leading the cabal against Adesina
Behind the scenes of the launch of this investigation, the influence of the United States, the institution’s main shareholder after Nigeria, is denounced. The current U.S. Executive Director of the AfDB, Steven Dowd, a businessman and close associate of Donald Trump, is described as being behind the “destabilization” of Akinwumi Adesina.
In fact, the investigation is being launched on the eve of the election to head the Bank. Initially scheduled for 25 May 2020, which was postponed due to the coronavirus health crisis, it is deferred to the end of August. The congress was initially presented as a mere formality for Akinwumi Adesina, in pole position to be re-elected, in the absence of a challenger. He had the support of ECOWAS, but also of the African Union. But with the turn of events, his re-election is called into doubt.
In this turbulent context, the AfDB President, who has managed to attract the support of a dozen former African heads of state, is presenting his achievements based on the roadmap “Building an Africa with Inclusive Growth and Prosperity for All”.
Capital increase, decentralization and triple A
The AfDB, under its governance, registered a capital increase of US$ 115 billion in October 2019. This is a personal success for its President and one that further establishes the Bank as one of the world’s top five multilateral development banks. Akinwumi Adesina also ensured the decentralization of the Bank with the establishment of 5 regional development and service delivery offices in Tunis, Pretoria, Yaounde, Nairobi and Abidjan to serve the North, South, Central, East and West regions of the continent. “We need to feel the pulse of our member countries and our clients,” argues Akinwumi Adesina.
In the process of adopting the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTAA), the AfDB has also played its part, with an investment of more than US$1 billion to support trade finance in Africa, Akinwumi Adesina boasted at the annual shareholders’ dinner on February 5, 2019. The African Development Bank has made many cross-border investments – $12 billion in 2018, up from $2 billion in 2010. It has also provided assistance to African countries in business environment policy reforms and business regulation. Foreign direct investment (FDI) to G20 Compact countries jumped by 36%, while FDI to other countries on the continent fell by 42%. Also on the Nigerian’s record was the launch of the Africa Investment Forum, whose objective is to mobilize $300 billion of investment in Africa over an eight-year period.These performances have earned the African Development Bank an AAA rating from the four major global rating agencies, a distinction that enables it to obtain financing on very competitive terms. Personally, the Nigerian won two international awards worth $750,000.
Plot against Akinwumi Adesina? Opinions differ. Didier Acouetey, the Director of the Talent Detection and Human Resources Management Group for Africa, AfricSearch concedes that “the investigation is well-founded. We must ensure that governance within our institutions is almost beyond reproach. On the Nigerian’s achievements during his term that is coming to end, the Togolese thinks that “we do not yet see the results at the level of beneficiary countries”, and to make a nuance: “On “Gender”, the efforts are undoubtedly more visible”.
Meanwhile, Taïeb Talbi, adviser to several States and multinationals on investment and asset management, states that “the investigation is requested by a single shareholder and takes place during a period of re-election”. However, “the AfDB has not lost much of its influence and prestige under the presidency of Akinwumi Adesina. Its achievements remain stable! Its president, who wanted to support inclusive growth and the transition to green growth, by supporting investment and focusing on priorities called “High-5″ (Enlighten Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life of people in Africa) seems not to be achieving his objectives,” the Franco-Tunisian said on the AfDB President’s appraisal.
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