President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, has pledged to reach out to and engage with stakeholders of the bank to ensure stability and progress.
Mr Adesina made this known in his opening speech at the 2020 Annual Meetings of The African Development Bank Group, held virtually on Wednesday.
The AfDB boss also offered himself to governors of the bank for consideration for a second term as president.
Mr Adesina explained that the past several months have been challenging for the bank but the bank pulled together despite the turbulence.
“I would like to sincerely thank you all, our esteemed Governors, under the excellent leadership and wisdom of the Chairperson, Minister Niale Kaba, for joining hands to steady the Bank,” he said.
“I am proud of the African Development Bank and the strength of our governance systems. I am proud of each and every shareholder of the Bank who challenged and made us all better. Our experience has made us better and stronger. Our challenges, though difficult, have become our gain.
“But it’s not been easy… I will reach out… I will engage… We will HEAL…”
A few months ago, Mr Adesina was in the eye of the storm over sundry allegations of misconduct. The former Nigerian minister is seeking a second term as president of the bank.
In a petition by the group of whistleblowers, Mr Adesina was accused of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct. The bank, however, found the allegations to be “frivolous”.
He was thereafter cleared of the allegations.
At the annual meeting Wednesday, Mr Adesina said he is seeking re-election with a strong sense of duty and humility.
“I do so, with humility,” he said of his re-election bid.
“I do so with a strong sense of duty and commitment and a call to serve Africa and our Bank, selflessly, to the very best of my God-given abilities.”
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Adesina argued that Africa needs a strong and stable African Development Bank to support it through this pandemic and help its economies rebound for better, healthier lives and livelihoods for its people.
“And the African Development Bank needs you — our shareholders — as you always have been: united and strong,” he said.
The AfDB boss explained that the world has changed and the COVID-19 health pandemic has upended all plans, including travels.
He added that health and safety have become primary for all decision making and that is why the Governors of the Bank took the extraordinary decision to hold the Annual Meetings virtually for the first time in the history of the Bank.
“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. I applaud the Governors of the Bank for your wisdom, sensitivity and leadership,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading fast and causing much havoc and untold hardships. Lives lost — too many. Jobs lost — unimaginable. Economic losses —too deep and vast to fathom. Our collective humanity has never been so challenged — so tested, so vulnerable. Yet our interdependency, our need for pulling together, uniting and staying focused together, has never been more important.
“For in unity we build strength. Strength to overcome, even the most challenging of obstacles.
Pulling together has always been the strength of the African Development Bank. We pulled together right here in Abidjan, where you the shareholders approved the largest capital increase in the history of the Bank – raising the capital of the Bank by $115 billion.
“We pulled together, yet again, in Pretoria, South Africa, and gave the African Development Fund 35% increase in financing – financing so crucial to low-income countries and fragile states. Fragility is transient, resilience is enduring.”
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