Akinwunmi Adesina: Africa’s Spotless Son, By Wole Olaoye

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As Africa stands up for its spotless son on the threshold of a well deserved second term, development experts are already envisioning the picture of where the continent will be in the next five years, as they are confident that all co-owners of AfDB will re-elect Adesina as president, affirming that one good term deserves another.

I raise a fist of salutations to new beginnings, acknowledging, as I must, that beginnings are just part of the continuum of life, for every beginning entails an end, which in turn foreshadows another beginning. Welcome!

Talking about beginnings and ends, it was good to see the end of the odious allegations made against African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who was completely exculpated last week, following the unprecedented review of the process of his earlier exoneration. The second largest shareholder, the United States of America, had requested an additional review — a request which was granted in the interest of transparency.

When the history of AfDB is written, the names of the members of the distinguished review committee will be written in gold. Take a bow, Mary Robinson, former president of the Republic of Ireland, ex-UNHCR commissioner and chairperson of the global body of wise persons concerned with the world’s wellbeing, a.k.a. the Elders. Kudos to Hassan B. Jallow, chief justice of the Gambia. Respects to Leonard F. McCarthy, former director for the Office of Serious Economic Offences, former Head of the directorate of Special Operations of South Africa, and vice president of Integrity for the World Bank for nine years.

I have known Akinwumi Adesina for more than 40 years — right from his undergraduate days. I couldn’t reconcile the allegations of graft, duplicity or nepotism with the Akin that I know, but then America wanted a third leg to the investigation, even though the exoneration by the Committee and the Board was all that was statutorily required. At that stage, some conspiracy theorists felt that America was trying to prosecute its trade war with China on African soil, using the AfDB president as pawn. Was the U.S. request for additional scrutiny a revenge for the burgeoning China-Africa trade, which has grown by about 16.9 per cent in the last five years?

In the heat of the probe, an engineer and blogger, Ndubuisi Ekekwe wrote: “These allegations are mundane; the Board can handle them, and communicate to its shareholders. They are not things, in my opinion, for an external counsel to investigate. President Trump does what Mr. Adesina is accused (of) daily in Washington DC! Adesina does not have his daughter and son-in-law working in his office or vacationing in his hotels!”

On the whole, the long-drawn chase after a phantom was an unnecessary distraction, as noted by banker/economist, Bismarck Rewane: “The distraction was totally unnecessary. You can’t use a stereotype to damn a good man. By the end of Adesina’s tenure, AfDB would have become a major multilateral agency like the Asian Development Bank. Adesina confronted his faceless accusers with absolute transparency — bring everything out in the open, face the allegations headlong. Under Adesina, the bank has been more engaged in addressing the developmental issues of the continent of Africa. The major issues concern electricity, infrastructure, agriculture — developmental. His focus has been pan-African and afrocentric. He has transformed the bank from being just transactional to being developmental.”

Rewane justifies the present trajectory of the bank: “Only 20% of intra-regional trade is done among Africans while they are doing 60% in Europe and almost 50% in Asia. As we go into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and ECOWAS integration, we need an institution of this stature headed by somebody with a vision to take this continent away from the shackles of neocolonialism and imperialism towards becoming an integral part of the global economy”.

Serge Mombouli, dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in the United States of America, celebrated Adesina’s exoneration and called on all stakeholders to support the re-election of Dr. Adesina in the August 27 election where he is the sole candidate of the African Union. “The African Diplomatic Corps accredited to the United States urges the United States of America, the largest non-regional shareholder, and all other shareholders to continue to strongly support the President of the bank and the African Development Bank Group going forward…”

AfDB is supposed to be a multilateral bank with focus on Africa. Perhaps the reason it hadn’t lived up to the dream of its founding fathers in the past was the fact that the leadership was pandering to external influencers who had their own agendas. Under Adesina, the continent is being transformed in a sustainable way as can be seen from his High Five Initiative (1). Feed Africa (2). Light Up Africa (3). Industrialise Africa (4). Integrate Africa and (5). Improve the Quality of Life in Africa. Only last month, global credit rating agencies, Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings, both affirmed the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank.

But why all the distraction?

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