AfDB Board bows to US pressure to investigate President Adesina, who may be asked to step aside

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina – AfDB President

The Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has accepted demands by the US government to institute independent investigations into allegations of unethical conduct by its President, Akinwumi Adesina. Adesina may be asked to step aside during the investigation.

Some unidentified employees of the Bank have accused the President of breaching the Bank’s code of conduct. They accused him of appointing mostly people from his home country of Nigeria, including a brother-in-law who is a childhood friend. They have also accused him of placing people close to him in strategic positions. Adesina has however denied the allegations. In a statement Wednesday May 27, he said; “fair, transparent and just processes” would confirm his innocence.

The Bank’s Ethics Committee had rejected the allegations by the employees stating that they cannot be substantiated.

But the US government criticized the Bank’s internal processes following comments by the President of the World Bank, David Malpass in February. Malpass had criticized the AfDB and other multilateral lenders for their tendency to provide loans too quickly, and, in the process, add to the debt problems of African nations.

The Bank, however, in a spirited response rebutted the statement, saying it undermines its governance systems, impugns its integrity and added that there is no risk of “systemic debt distress” on the continent.

In a May 22 letter to the AfDB’s Board Chair, Niale Kaba, US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin stated that the scope and detail of the allegations are serious enough for a further inquiry to ensure the AfDB’s shareholders have confidence in the bank’s leadership.

Other member countries of the Bank such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland have reportedly written to the AfDB to back demands by Mnuchin for independent investigators to take over the matter and look into the allegations.

Some African leaders such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria have shown support for Adesina. They have also praised him for his efforts to help secure funds for Africa to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

60-year-old Adesina is due for re-election in August for another five-year term. He is the sole candidate in the election.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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