Mr Adewunmi Adesina, the President of Africa Development Bank, AfDB and former Nigeria minister of agricultural resources and rural development under the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has been in the centre of attention over a multitude of allegations against him bordering on corruption, nepotism and other unethical misconduct.
Specifically, the Treasury Department of United States of America, levelled sixteen offences against Mr Adesina; all of which centre on perpetuating gross misconduct, involving in arbitrary recruitment without recourse to laid down rules and procedures, using AfDB for private gain, impediment to efficiency, arbitrarily overruling decisions taken by Bank’s directors, nepotism, involving in political lobbying, making use of bank resources for personal gains, and other practices that have raised doubts over the integrity of Mr Adesina. The United states also accused Adesina of involvement in practices that have depleted the confidence of major stakeholders and partners of Africa Development Bank especially the United States Government, which has more than 6.5% interest in the Bank.
In response to the sixteen weighty allegations of gross misconduct against him, Mr Adesina, who took over the affairs of the bank in September 2015, claimed innocent of all allegations and alleges witch-hunt against his person.
Furthermore, the Board of Directors of AfDB that Mr Adesina Chairs, mandated its Ethics Committee to investigate the allegations against him, and the Ethics Committee cleared Mr Adesina of any wrongdoing and found him innocent of all allegations. The United States rejected the report of the Bank’s Ethics Committee that cleared Mr Adesina, insisting that the Bank Board of Governors contracts an independent organization to probe all allegations against Mr Adesina instead.
The rejection of the report of the AfDB Ethics Committee and insistence on independent organization to probe the allegations by the United States has caused reactions amongst the elites and the masses of the Nigeria society. The elites like former president Olusegun Obasanjo, former vice president Atiku Abubakar and some other senior officials of the present administration of Muhammadu Buhari, have been displaying solidarity with the embattled President of African Development Bank, asking the AFDB Board of Governors to disregard the call for independent probe of Mr Adesina by United States. While members of the Nigeria masses are accusing the United States of interfering and forcing her opinion on “African Affair” and modern day neocolonialism. Unfortunately for both groups, public institutions like African Development Bank can not be operated by sentiment where the CEO is allowed to do as he pleases without accountability and transparency.
May I also add that those condemning the United States and accusing them of of interference in “AFDB” affairs are not informed of the ownership of the Bank. They are not aware that the African Development Bank is jointly owned by 56 African countries (otherwise known as regional member countries) and 24 non African countries (otherwise known as non regional member countries), which the United States is among. The United States is not only a member of AFDB, but is also the second largest shareholder of the Bank with over 6.5% shares, and also the country has second largest voting power due to his stake in the Bank. The Country is only behind Nigeria, the Bank’s largest shareholder with 9% stake. As a member, second largest shareholder and the member with second largest voting power, the United States is deemed a major stakeholder of the Bank and enjoys the privilege of demanding for accountability from the Bank’s leadership.
USA holds 6.5% stake in AfDB
Though it may appear as display patriotism to stand in solidarity with a fellow countryman, but standing in solidarity with the embattled compatriot Akinwunmi Adesina can never be a valid substitute for transparency, ethical practices and building confidence of stakeholders of Africa Development Bank, which Mr Adesina has been accused of flouting by the United States of America. Mr Adesina should prove his innocence by submitting himself to the request of the USA for an independent body to probe the allegations against his activities as President of the African Development Bank with respect to the weighty allegations against him without the interference of any interest, fear of victimisation nor bias towards any party.
Furthermore, Mr Adesina cannot expect a country like the United States that has zero tolerance to corrupt practices and gross misconduct, to rely on the report of AfDB’s Ethics Committee that absolved him of any wrongdoing. This is because aside being the President of the Bank, he also chairs the Bank’s Board of Directors that appointed members of the Bank’s Ethics Committee. As such, the Bank’s Ethics Committee can never be said to be unbiased in probing allegations against their appointer (Mr Adesina).
In view of the above, Mr Adesina should as a matter of urgency show willingness in proving his innocence by agreeing to the prayer of the United States for an independent organization to probe the myriad of allegations.
By submitting to external probe, Mr Adesina will send signal to the Bank’s stakeholders that the Bank’s interest supersedes his personal interest, and it will save the Bank from unnecessary negative press that it has been receiving since the controversy came to limelight. Indeed, Mr Adesina will be vindicated by the probe of the independent investigating body and should be given a second if the independent investigation organization finds him innocent, but should be disgraced out of office if found guilty.
Need For Accountability Among Leaders of African Organisations
One of the ills bedeviling most institutions in Africa in both private and public sectors is lack of accountability and transparency by those at the helms of affairs. This lack of of accountability has made leaders entrusted with responsibility of managing these institutions to engage in corrupt practices, nepotism, flagrant abuse of processes and procedures, and running the organisation like personal fiefdom. When indicted, these leaders would find ways to avoid giving account of their stewardship by disregarding calls for external probe, whip up racial, ethnic or religious sentiments, and claim to be witch-hunted. Some would even go to court to shop for judicial orders and injunctions to stop probes being done on them or halt the publications of the indictments against them. This lack of accountability by leaders of African organisations is both gross and unfortunate as what it robs the continent is beyond human comprehension.
Africa can only move forward by disregarding parochial sentiments and demanding accountability from its leaders.
Written by Tamunotonye Inioribo || Tonyebarcanista@gmail.com