By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has officially launched an independent investigation into allegations levied against its president, Mr Akinwumi Adesina.
The Abidjan-based development institution finally gave in to the demands of the United States, which was dissatisfied with the internal investigation that had totally exonerated Mr Adesina from serious accusations including unethical behaviour, personal enrichment and favouritism.
In a statement, the Board of Governors of the AfDB) agreed to authorize an independent review of the whistleblowers’ allegations” against Mr. Adesina.
The statement issued by the board’s bureau chairperson, Mrs Nialé Kaba, disclosed that this decision was reached at the end of a new meeting of the board’s bureau on Thursday.
Mrs Kaba said, “This independent review should be carried out by a neutral, honest, high-calibre person with unquestionable experience and a proven international reputation, within two to four weeks maximum, taking into account the electoral calendar of the Bank, which is due to elect its president at the end of August.”
Mr Adesina, who was elected in 2015 to head the AfDB, has been the subject of a series of accusations since the beginning of the year, which were disclosed in the press in April.
In a detailed report, the whistleblowers accused him of favouritism in many senior appointments, especially of Nigerian compatriots, of appointing or promoting people suspected or convicted of fraud or corruption, and of granting them comfortable severance packages without sanction.
The charges were initially refuted by Mr Adesina and was quickly exonerated by the bank on the basis of a report by its internal ethics committee.
However, the United States, the AfDB’s second largest shareholder after Nigeria, demanded at the end of May that an independent investigation be launched by US Treasury Secretary, Mr Steven Mnuchin, the work of the ethics committee, and provoking a serious crisis in the pan-African institution.
The decision to launch an independent investigation was taken “with a view to reconciling the different points of view,” Mrs Kaba said.
Mr Adesina’s re-election has now come under pressure with the recent allegations, but he has since received support of President Muhammadu Buhari, who received him on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He has also received the support of more than 15 former African heads of state who signed a joint letter including Nigeria’s, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo and Mr Goodluck Jonathan.
The AfDB has 80 shareholder countries (54 African and 26 non-African countries, from Europe, America and Asia). It is the only African institution rated triple A by financial rating agencies.
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