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AU’s Raila Odinga throws weight behind embattled Africa Development Bank President

By Fredrick Obura | June 5th 2020
Embattled AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina

Africa Union has thrown its weight behind embattled Africa Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina over claims touching on recruitment and procurement at the institution.

A whistleblower has made allegations of violations of procurement, contract issuance, and recruitment procedures putting into question Adesina’s leadership at the bank.

The allegations however were investigated by the executive board through its relevant committee and a determination made that they were baseless. Individuals who were not satisfied by the Board’s findings and determination decided to pursue the issue outside the bank’s processes and procedures by calling for an independent inquiry.

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Board on Thursday said it stood by an internal investigation that had cleared its president of improper conduct, but it would carry out an independent review of the report in the interest of due process.

Raila Odinga, The Africa Union high representative for infrastructure development in the continent rubbished call for second investigations into the allegations. He at the same time outlined the progress the multilateral lender has made under the leadership of Adesina, a former Nigerian minister.

“We reject the attempt to operate outside the laws governing the operations of the bank. If not checked, these maneuvers can distabilise a well-functioning institution at a time the continent needs it most,” Raila said.

In defending the bank, Raila pointed out that Adesina’s leadership has yielded commendable results, among them raising capital from USD 98 billion to USD208 billion in 2020.

Part of Raila protest letter posted on his Facebook page

The United States, AfDB’s second-largest shareholder, has demanded a new independent probe into the allegations, rejecting the bank’s investigation over reservations about the integrity of the bank’s process. Meanwhile, top shareholder Nigeria has voiced its support for Adesina.

In a statement, AfDB’s board of governors said it believed the bank’s ethics committee, which produced the report, had carried out its role correctly. But the board has nevertheless agreed to authorise a review.

“The independent review shall be conducted by a neutral high caliber individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation, and integrity,” it said.

On Tuesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave his backing to Adesina in his bid for a second term as AfDB president despite the allegations.

Adesina later this year plans to pursue a second term as the head of the multilateral lender, which is headquartered in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan.

The board said the review of the investigation would take no more than four weeks and not interfere with the bank’s electoral calendar.

The bank’s whistle-blowing and complaints handling policy will also be reviewed at a later date to ensure it is being properly implemented, it said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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