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AfDBCold war between developed world and Africa

Published by The Nation on Mon, 01 Jun 2020

International relations experts have likened the quest by the United States to dictate how the internal affairs of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are conducted as a cold war, which Africa must ensure it wins, writes BOLA OLAJUWON and ROBERT EGBEFOR the United States, there is nothing wrong changing the rule of the game in the middle on the probe of the allegations against African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. But international relations experts are frowning at this. Former Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ambassador Bulus Lolo said the United States must be resisted, insisting that AfDBs internal mechanism should be allowed to endure.Lolo challenged those alleging unethical conducts by Adesina to check where the bank is now from where Adesina met it.If the internal organ of AfDB has come up with a report on the issue, why should a non-regional member be attacking such report' the retired diplomat queried.He urged African leaders not to allow a situation whereby people play politics with the internal organs of the bank.Now, there is a controversy in the United States over a glaring human right abuse that some people committed. Why have people not been pointing fingers at the U.S. that your justice system has failed, your justice system is corrupt, your justice is weak' They will disagree with you, Lolo said.The retired diplomat emphasised that he supported the positions of African leaders on Adesina and he hoped they would use that to convince the rest of the world.Similarly, former emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II yesterday urged Africans and friends of the continent to stand up and ensure that laid-down rules are respected in the AfDB Group.The excellent letter written by the finance minister says it all and I am pleased that President Obasanjo has weighed in on the matter. Every well-meaning African or friend of Africa should speak up on this matter, he said.It is a simple adherence to global best practices in governance. AfDB has clearly defined rules and processes for investigating and dealing with allegations of misconduct. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.Since those processes were duly followed it is unheard of for the rules to be changed because someone does not like the outcome.Sanusi, who is a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the support being shown for Adesina should not be viewed as defending a Nigerian or a friend.I have watched him at AfDB and his stellar performance is there for all to see. This is not about defending a Nigerian or a friend, he continued.To ex-Director-General, Nigeria Institute of Foreign Affairs Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, there was no controversy about the issue.Its not a debate. But a cold war between the developed world and the leaders of Africa. What does that mean' The problem is the war of strugglea struggle for influence. The western or developed world wants to ensure control, if not absolute control of the bank. Nigeria has the largest share and that is 9.3 per cent of the equity participation in the bank and the U.S. has 6.5 and Algeria with 4.3 per cent. The issue is about America in the second position wanting to ensure its share is used to protect American interest to the detriment of other shareholders. I do not look at the problem as being between the ADB and Adesina but between the West and Africa.As far back as 1981, President Shehu Shagari never wanted what we call extra-regional equity participation. Membership of the bank is either regional or non-regional. Regional refers to all 54 African member states and 27 non-regional membersthey include the U.S., the Chinese, Taiwan, others.Shagari, by that time, opposed the idea of allowing extra-African countries, but other African leaders opposed Nigerias position. African leaders prevailed on Nigeria and Nigeria acceded to their request. And that was how that problem started. All these non-regional people have more moneytheir contributions are dollarised and in this particular case, they begin to wax stronger. That is how the struggle for influence and control begins.It is, therefore, simply not a problem between Adesina as president of the bank and the U.S. It is more than that. Its an attempt to prevent Adesina from managing the bank the way he is going about it now tackling African challenges, Akinterinwa said.Saying he agreed with Africas position, he added: I cannot but agree. The allegations are terribly atrocious. They are simply ridiculous. One of the allegations says that the director of agriculture in the bank is the brother-in-law of Adesina. Adesina is not a glamorous person, but the wife is well known. The brother-in-law they are referring to, it is not so. Its just a blatant lie. That means the whistleblowers didnt do a good job.On recruitment of Nigerians, he said: When the bank started, what was the ratio and population of Americans, of Europeans or westerners' The western world is jittery. They want to increase the population of their people in a way that they would be able to have control, especially in terms of their shareholding.Former Nigeria Ambassador to France Akin Fayomi supported the position of African leaders on the issue. I dont really think I have anything new to add to the plethora of new and opinions already out there, he said.The Federal Government, through a letter by the minister of finance, stood with Adesina and rejected the U.S. call.The crux of the matterOn January 19, a Group of Concerned Staff within the African Development Bank (AfDB) wrote a petition accusing AfDB President Akinwunmi Adesina of breaches of the Code of Conduct of Elected Officers of the Bank.The petition claimed that Mr Adesina breached 16 of the banks code of conduct, including unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, involvement in political activities, impunity and bad governance.Adesina vigorously denied the allegations and defended his integrity.The whistleblowers also sent copies of the petition to both the Director of the Integrity & Anti-Corruption office (PIAC) of the Bank, and the Chairperson of the Audit & Finance Committee (AUFI) in line with the Banks Whistleblowing and Complaints Handling Policy.Between February 4 and April 9, 2020, the ethics committee held series of meetings to review documents and presentations as it conducted preliminary examination of the allegations against Mr Adesina to establish whether they were based on any objective and solid facts pursuant to Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11. Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 adopted at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of the Bank held on May 14, 2008, made the Code of Conduct for its Executive Directors and those of the African Development Fund (ADF) also apply to the President of the Bank Group.Apart from the petition, other documents reviewed during the series of meetings by the committee included the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina detailing his defence of the allegations against him.On May 5, the ethics committee of the banks board of directors headed by the institutions Japan Executive Director, Takuji Yano, found that Adesina was not guilty of any of the allegations.Yano, who led the investigation, described as spurious and unfounded claims that Adesina violated the banks code of conduct.The ethic committees verdict cleared the way for Adesina, 60, to firm up his second term bid for election as AfDB president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.But, two weeks later, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the ethics committee result and called for an independent probe into the allegations.In a May 22 letter addressed to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the banks board of governors, Mnuchin said the Treasury disagrees with findings by the banks ethics committee that totally exonerated Adesina.But the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina to the committee on April 8 gave a point-by-point response to all the 16 allegations,The memo also suggests that the allegations by the Group of Concerned Staff may be connected with scuttling Adesinas presidential re-election bid.In the memo, Mr Adesina accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy of the bank by making public disclosure of the matter beyond submission to the ethics committee.He accused the petitioners of disclosing their allegations beyond the committee by acting in concert with others outside the AfDB system.The point about others acting in concert with the whistle-blowers is not speculation. A group of independent Bank staff members apparently wrote a Disassociation Note on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called Group of Concerned Staff Members, namely the whistle-blowers behind the Disclosure, but that they had been manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr (Steven) Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Bank of Development, but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election, Mr Adesina said in his memo to the committee.Certainly if the Disassociation Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistle-blowers complaint cannot be considered to be in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead, it had another ulterior motive, he added.Mr Dowd is the U.S. government representative at the bank.One of the petitioners allegations is that Nigerians are overrepresented at the bank. Certainly, Nigeria is the AfDBs largest shareholder, with a little over 9% of the capital, but could that explain why Mr Adesina hires one Nigerian after another to leadership positions at the AfDB' wrote the group.But a breakdown of the nationalities shows this to be untrue.Based on the latest figures available on staff members countries of origin) French nationals made up 63 of the AfDBs headcount (5.2% of the total), meaning they are overrepresented in proportion to Frances share of the capital (3.7%).Obasanjos takeFormer President Olusegun Obasanjo last Thursday criticised the U.S. for insisting on independent investigation into the allegations.Obasanjo, in a letter to the Board and 13 African former leaders, said the clearance granted Akinwunmi, who he said has performed creditably well, by the laid down institutions should have put the matter to rest.He questioned the insistence of the U.S. on independent investigation, declaring it is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the bank.The US treasury secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group.If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.He called for solidarity in the fight to preserve the independence of the bank, stating the former African leaders should issue a joint statement to support the laid down procedures embarked upon to evaluate the allegations and recommend that the Board of Governors, as well as the Ethics Committee of the Bank, should firmly stand by their process and its outcome.The AfDB Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).Adesina is the first Nigerian to lead AfDB following his five-year term election in September 2015. He was Nigerias agriculture minister from 2011 until his move.
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