Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina is the eighth president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB). The AfDB board of governors elected him as the successor to Daniel Kaberuka of Rwanda at its annual meetings on 28 May 2015. He took office on 1 September 2015 at the bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
He is the first Nigerian to serve as president of the AfDB. The African Union has endorsed his bid to run for a second term in office.
Adesina is a respected economist and pioneer of agricultural development. In 2007 he won the prestigious Yara Prize (now the African Food Prize) for introducing innovative approaches to improve African farmers’ access to inputs.
He was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development between 2011 and 2015. In 2013 Forbes magazine named him its African Person of the Year for his reform work with fertiliser supply chains in Nigerian agriculture. In 2017 he was awarded the World Food Prize at a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.
Last year he was once again named the African of the Year.
Adesina became the centre of an international dispute about African financial affairs after a group of unnamed staff accused him of impunity and bad governance, in an email sent to two executive directors of the AfDB and the head of the bank’s Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department on 19 January this year. There were allegations that Adesina has shown Nigerians preferential treatment in making appointments to the bank.
An inquiry was conducted by the AfDB’s ethics committee, chaired by Takuji Yano, the executive director of the bank representing Japan. The committee produced a report on 26 April.
“High standards of ethics”
On 5 May the committee told the bank’s board of governors that it was exonerating Adesina of all the accusations made against him, describing them as “baseless”, “unsubstantiated” or “unproven”.
In addition to its main members – 54 countries in Africa – the United States is one of 27 non-regional members of the AfDB. It is also the bank’s second largest shareholder. On 22 May the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, signed a letter to the chairwoman of the AfDB board rejecting the internal investigation which had cleared Adesina and demanding an independent investigation.
The letter said: “We fear that the wholesale dismissal of all complaints without proper investigation would tarnish this institution’s image as one which does not follow high standards of ethics and governance.”
At a meeting on 26 May, the Board of Governors Bureau, which oversees the AfDB’s ethics committee, gave in to pressure from Washington and called for a fresh investigation.
The AfDB is one of the African continent’s most valued institutions.
But now, the United States is seeking to override Africa’s wishes and assume direct control of the way Africans manage their financial affairs.
Asaase Radio is launching a campaign to demand that the United States of America stay out of Africa’s banking affairs and allow Akinwumi Adesina to operate freely as president of the Affrican Development Bank.
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