AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina gets cleared of ethical charges

AFRICAAkinwumi Adesina, president of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), has been exonerated of all whistleblower allegations by the independent review panel led by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland.

Akinwumi Adesina, 60, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015.

A 15-page report earlier this year claimed that under his watch, the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.

The panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy, cleared Adesina of all charges alleged by whistleblowers.

“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,” the report concluded.

The rollercoaster of allegations has battered the African banking institution and Adesina — who is the sole candidate for the bank’s August’s presidential elections — after the whistleblowers’ complaints were leaked to the media in April.

Robinson — who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 — dismissed the 16 whistleblower allegations against Adesina.

The panel did not investigate the charges themselves, as that was not within their mandate.

The AfDB plays an important if largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport and other development sectors.

In January 2020, sixteen allegations of ethical misconduct were levelled against Adesina by a group of whistleblowers. 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.

The report of the Independent Review Panel states that it “concurs with the (Ethics) 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.”

It has considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive

The Panel once again vindicates Adesina and states, “It has considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”

Adesina is a highly decorated and distinguished technocrat and globally-respected development economist. He was awarded the prestigious World Food Prize in 2017 and the Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019 for global leadership in agriculture and for good governance.

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 US$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 US$93 billion to US$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.

Under Adesina’s leadership the African Development Bank launched a US$10 billion crisis response facility to boost African nations’ ability to tackle the health and economic effects of COVID-19.

Several Governors of the Bank speaking off the record, say it is now time to put recent events in the past; provide the Bank’s President with full support; and bolster the Bank’s efforts on Africa’s critical development issues.

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