African Development Bank bows to U.S., authorises independent probe of Akinwumi Adesina

The president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina
The president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina [PHOTO CREDIT: AfDB]

The Bureau of Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group has approved an independent investigation of the allegations against the President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.

The decision, taken at the meeting of the Bureau Thursday regarding the whistle-blowers’ complaints against Mr Adesina, is in deference to the demand by the U.S. government that a fresh and in-depth investigation be conducted into the allegations against Mr Adesina using an independent investigator.

On May 5, the ethics committee of the continental bank, headed by Takuji Yano, said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty on all counts.

Mr Yano is a Japanese executive director charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations by some concerned employees against the Bank’s president.

The committee described the allegations that Mr Adesina violated the code of conduct of the institution as “spurious and unfounded”.

Regardless, the United States government expressed “deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process” and called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations” using an independent investigator.

A Fresh Probe

At the end of its meeting Thursday, the Bureau of Board of Governors issued a communique, agreeing with the U.S and authorizing an independent review of the ethic committee’s report.

The communique, signed by the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Boards of Governors, Niale Kaba, reads,

“The Bureau reiterates that it agrees that the Ethics Committee of the Boards of
Directors performed its role on this matter in accordance with the applicable rule under Resolution B/BG/2008/11 of the Board of Governors.

“The Bureau also reiterates that the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of
Governors performed her role in accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee in accordance with the said Resolution.

“However, based on the views of some Governors on the matter and the need to carry every Governor along in resolving it, the Bureau agrees to authorize an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations considered by the Ethics Committee and the submissions made by the President of the Bank Group thereto in the interest of due process.

“The Independent Review shall be conducted by a neutral high calibre individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity within a short time period of not more than two to four weeks maximum, taking the Bank Group’s electoral calendar into account.

“The Bureau agrees that, within a three to six month period and following the independent review of the Ethics Committee Report, an independent comprehensive review of the implementation of the Bank Group’s Whistle-Blowing and Complaints Handling Policy should be conducted with a view to ensuring that the Policy is properly implemented, and revising it where necessary, to avoid situations of this nature in the future.”

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The AfDB President is yet to react to the latest decisions by the Board of Governors. But he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

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On a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, Mr Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”

He added that the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, and that calls for a fresh investigation by the United States of America, were against the rules.

“My defence ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned,” he said.

“The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations.

“That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched.

“I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.”

While stressing that the motive was to soil his name, and that of the bank, the AfDB President said he was proud to be Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.

Nigeria is the largest shareholder of the African Development Bank.

Allegations

In its petition, the concerned staff accused Mr Adesina of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.”

The group, which noted their allegations were in line with AfDB’s whistle-blowing policy, said these activities adversely affected the confidence and integrity of the bank.

PREMIUM TIMES exclusively obtained the board’s letter that exonerated Mr Adesina. In it, the chair of the board of governors, Ms Kaba, said the ethics committee proposed “to adopt the conclusions of the investigation” after due consultations.

U.S Govt and AfDB

The U.S. became a member of the African Development Fund in 1976 and of the African Development Bank in 1983. Also, its bilateral cooperation with the bank has been strengthened through cooperation agreements.

First, in 2008, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with USAID to launch a five-year partnership in support of African small and medium-sized enterprises by accelerating investment. It also provides co-financing arrangements for a shared contribution of 40% for the Bank, 10% for USAID and 50% for other partnering banks.

Another MoU was concluded in May 2016 with the Millennium Challenge Corporation that provides for sharing information and data, particularly in the power sector, with a focus on mobilizing private investment.

In 2012, USAID contributed to the Migration and Development Initiative, a Multi-Donor Trust Fund aimed at improving knowledge on migrant remittances in Africa and providing support to reforms of the regulatory frameworks required to improve transfer conditions, among other mandates.



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