AfDB’s Adesina Pledges Innocence, Fights Back at Accusers

May 29, 2020
Akinwumi Adesina

By Adedapo Adesanya

The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has pledged to continue working as he fights back against allegations of corruption and favouritism leveled against him.

Mr Adesina issued a press statement on Wednesday in which he strongly criticised what he termed “unprecedented attempts” to taint his reputation with accusations which have shaken the institution.

A petition had accused Mr Adesina of embezzlement, preferential treatment of Nigerians in senior appointments and promoting people accused or found guilty of fraud and corruption.

However, on May 5, the ethics committee of the board of directors of the bank said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty of any of the allegations contained in the petition.

Then in a letter of May 22, 2020 to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury, Mr Steven Mnuchin, faulted the committee’s decision to “totally exonerate” Mr Adesina of all allegations.

Noting that it was not yet time to make such a declaration, Mr Mnuchin called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations against Mr Adesina.”

To this Mr Adesina responded: “I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.

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

Mr Mnuchin said that a complete dismissal of allegations against Mr Adesina without adequate investigation would taint the AfDB’s reputation at a critical point in time.

He added that further inquiry was necessary to ensure the AfDB’s President had broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders.

The 60-year-old President had previously denied the allegations, labeling them as an attempt to discredit him from seeking another term at the helm of Africa’s largest multilateral lender.

Mr Adesina also accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy of the bank by breaching the confidentiality of the proceedings of the matter by making public disclosure of the matter beyond submission to the ethics committee.

He accused the petitioners of disclosing their allegations beyond the committee “by acting in concert with others outside the AfDB system”.

Mr Adesina, formerly Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was elected as the 8th President of the AfDB in 2015. He is the sole candidate in this year’s race at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

The United States is the second largest shareholder of the AfDB with a 6.5 percent stake behind Nigeria, Mr Adesina’s home country, which has a nine percent stake.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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