A much awaited report by an Independent Review Panel has completely exonerated the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina of any ethical wrongdoings.
The Independent Review Panel was set up by the Bureau of Governors of the Bank, following a complaint by the United States to review the process by which its two organs – the Ethics Committee of the Board, and the Bureau of the Board of Governors – had previously exonerated Adesina.
The three-member Independent Review Panel include Mary Robinson, who is a former President of the Republic of Ireland and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Gambia, Mr Hassan B. Jallow; and Mr Leonard F. McCarthy, a former South Africa’s Director of Public Prosecutions who had also served as the Vice President of Integrity at the World Bank for nine years.
In January 2020, sixteen allegations of ethical misconduct were levelled against Adesina by a group of whistle-blowers in the AfDB. The allegations which were reviewed by the Bank’s Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors in March, were described as “frivolous and without merit.” The findings and rulings of the Ethics Committee were subsequently upheld by the apex Bureau of the Board of Governors in May, which cleared Adesina of any wrongdoing.
Though he was cleared of these allegations following laid down rules of the bank, the United States insisted that it needed an independent probe. America got his probe. Adesina has now got his clearance, courtesy of the decision of the Independent Review Panel published on Tuesday, 28 July.
Adesina, a former Minister of Agriculture under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has cut for himself an international profile of probity, competence and integrity. It was all these that the whistle-blowers wanted to destroy in a puff of smoke.
Adesina is now poised to win another term as President as he is the official candidate of the African Union for that office and the panel’s decision now clears the way for the Governors of the Bank to re-elect him to a second five-year term during annual meetings of the Bank scheduled for 25-27 August.
Adesina has done well for Africa. Since taking over the reigns of the Bank in 2015, he has introduced several innovative reforms including a High5 development strategy; a restructuring of the bank including setting up offices in several African nations to get closer to its clients; an Africa Investment Forum that has attracted $79 billion in investment interests into projects in Africa between 2018 and 2019. He successfully led a historic General Capital Increase campaign that culminated in the Bank’s shareholders raising the institution’s capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, in October 2019.
In June and July respectively, global credit ratings agencies Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings both affirmed the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook.
For his giant stride, he has won global accolades, including bagging the prestigious Sunhak Peace Prize for global leadership in agriculture and good governance.