High level panel clears Akinwumi Adesina of wrongdoing

President Akinwumi Adesina

NAIROBI, KENYA: Africa Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina has been cleared from abuse of office claims.

A high-level panel for the independent review of the report of the ethics committee on the whistleblower complaint against concurred with the earlier verdict which dismissed the abuse of office allegations against the President.

Whistleblowers in January accused Adesina, who has held the AfDB’s top job since 2015, of abuses of office including favouritism in hiring fellow Nigerians, and giving out overly generous severance packages. He had denied the accusations.

A report by the bank’s ethics board in April cleared him of wrongdoing but the United States, AfDB’s second-largest shareholder, rejected the internal investigation and demanded an independent panel review the case.

The panel comprising Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Justice Hassan Jallow Chief Justice of the Gambia, and Leonard Mc Carthy was announced on July 1 and given two weeks to complete and submit its work.

“The panel concurs with the committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the committee,” said Niale Kaba, the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Boards of Governors AfDB.

‘’The panel has considered the president’s submission on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”

The call for the second probe into the abuse of office allegations was also condemned by the Africa Union through its high representative for infrastructure development in the continent Raila Odinga.

“We reject the attempt to operate outside the laws governing the operations of the bank. If not checked, these maneuvers can destabilise 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.

The United States pushed for the original decision to be reviewed over reservations about the integrity of the bank’s process. This put it at odds with the lender’s largest shareholder, Nigeria, which had voiced support for Adesina.

The exoneration of Adesina, a former Nigerian agriculture minister, frees him to seek re-election as the head of the multilateral lender. His first term ends on August 31 and he is expected to run unopposed.

The bank faces challenging economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Abidjan-based bank forecasts a 3.4 per cent contraction in Africa’s economy in 2020 compared with a pre-pandemic projection of 3.9 per cent growth.

In April, the AfDB announced a $10-billion emergency credit facility to support the continent’s coronavirus-hit economies.