At African Development Bank, President Adesina exonerated by expert report

A new chapter has just been written in the twisting soap opera that has been running since April on the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its president, Nigerian, Akinwumi Adesina. The latter was accused of favoritism, personal enrichment and “Violations of the code of conduct” by employees of the institution, one of the world’s five largest multilateral development banks. Under pressure from the United States, the second largest shareholder of the ADB after Nigeria, an independent investigation was entrusted in early July to a panel of three experts led by the former Irish president (1990-1997), Mary Robinson. His eagerly awaited report was sent to the bank on Monday, July 27.

In this 31-page document that The World Africa consulted, the panel of experts exonerates Mr. Adesina and notes that the accusations against him by employees who have become “Whistleblowers” are ” unfounded “, too often “General”, “Lacking in detail and not supported by evidence”. Before recommending that they be “Rejected”, for lack of “Credibility”. The panel thus confirms the conclusions of the bank’s ethics committee which, in its preliminary investigation at the end of April, had swept aside each of the sixteen allegations. “They have been properly examined and rejected”, decides the panel of experts in its report.

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More than an investigation itself, it is a review of the methods and conclusions of the bank’s ethics committee for which the complaint “Was not based on any objective and solid fact”. Claiming to be hunted down and intimidated by those close to President Adesina, the employees behind the case refused to provide evidence, “On the grounds that they wanted to preserve their anonymity”. At the end of May, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed “Serious reservations” on the work produced by the ethics committee. While the Nigerian is a candidate for his succession, scheduled for the end of August, Washington has taken this matter seriously and wished that the light be shed, in particular on the suspicions of personal enrichment, of appointments to strategic positions of those close to Mr. Adesina. , for some suspected of corruption.

A month to convince

No new element appears in this report of the panel of experts, which in any case did not have the mandate to conduct its own investigations. His conclusions are a relief for the President of the ADB who however emerges weakened by this affair, revealed by The World Africa and which occurred in the midst of a new coronavirus pandemic. Despite a record hailed by shareholders and his partners – Mr. Adesina notably succeeded in completing a massive capital increase of 115 billion dollars in October 2019 – the 60-year-old Nigerian, at the head of the ADB since 2015, remains highly contested internally for its governance.

If he benefited from the support of some of the African presidents, starting with the Nigerian Muhammadu Buhari, anxious to preserve or conquer strategic positions at the African Union and the United Nations, Mr. Adesina annoyed him. other. Some blame him for a West African tropism, but also for entrusting the most important positions to Nigerians.

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Since the start of the scandal, President Adesina has always claimed his innocence. To defend himself, he did not hesitate to point out a relentlessness of the United States, then to play on the fiber of Western interference aimed at destabilizing the Pan-African institution. At the risk of exacerbating tensions between some of the 27 non-regional shareholders and the 54 African member countries. Its clumsy management of this crisis has, according to several analysts, damaged the credibility of the ADB, for a time sidelined the reflections and the continental response to the coronavirus. In recent weeks, however, the financial rating agencies have confirmed its precious triple A.

Now, Akinwumi Adesina has one month left before the AfDB’s annual meeting, scheduled for late August, to convince shareholders to give her a second term. He is the only one in the running.