In a strong diplomatic move aimed at securing the re-election of Akinwumi Adesina as the President of the African Development Bank, AfDB for a second term, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a special envoy to President Donald Trump of the United States.
Mustapha Chike-Obi was dispatched as the Special Envoy on a mission to solicit the support of the US governments’ for Adesina’s re-election as AfDB President. The huge task before Chike-Obi is to change the stance of the American government who is reportedly aversed to the re-election of Adesina.
To achieve this onerous task, President Buhari is counting on Chike-Obi to bring his long term friendship with Steve Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary into play in convincing the US government to support Adesina’s re-election bid. Chike Obi and Mnuchin were colleagues at Goldman Sachs and have forged a friendship that has lasted over two decades.
Recall that Adesina’s bid for a second term has run into troubled waters over the request by the US government to commence an independent investigation into allegations of corruption leveled against him by anonymous employees of the developmental bank.
The United States had in a letter dated May 22nd, and addressed to Madame Minister Niale Kaba in her capacity as chairman of the AfDB’s Bureau of Board of Governors and signed by Mnuchin maintained that “the United States cannot support dismissing the allegations at this stage.”
According to the US, this position is predicated on the fact that “the Board of Governors must demonstrate that this institution takes governance, anti-corruption, and transparency seriously.” Niale Kaba, is the chairman of the Bureau of Board of Governors of the AfDB and minister of planning and development of the Republic of Cote d’ Ivoire.
Mnuchin had in his letter stated: “We thus request that you (Madame Kaba) take steps to initiate an impartial, independent investigation into these allegations. Whatever the outcome, the AfDB will emerge stronger for having taken seriously its obligations to uphold good governance. The United States sincerely wishes AfDB to remain a high-quality institution with the capability to address the needs of the African continent, particularly at this critical time.
“Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate (Adesina) for the Bank’s leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure the AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence and a clear mandate from shareholders.”
The Board of Governors of the AfDB is the most powerful and highest decision-making body of the financial institution. The Board is made up of governors and alternate governors drawn from 54 African countries and 26 non-African countries. Among other responsibilities, it has the mandate to initiate disciplinary action against the president of the Bank, suspend or remove him from office and engage outside auditors to certify the Bank’s general balance sheet and the statement of profit and loss of the bank and to select such other experts as may be necessary to examine and report on the general management of the Bank.
Among the 54 African countries on the Board of Governors of the AfDB are Nigeria, South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Botswana, Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Togo, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Republic of Code d’ Ivoire, Sudan, Cameron, Madagascar, Gabon, Malawi, DRC, Zambia, Algeria, Mauritania, etc.
On the other hand, the 26 non-regional member countries of the AfDB Board include Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and * United Arab Emirates(ADF member-only).
The United States became a member of the African Development Fund in 1976 and consequently enlisted as a member of the AfDB in 1983 while Norway has been a member of the African Development Fund since 1973 and of the AfDB since 1982. On its part, the UK enlisted as a member of the African Development Fund in 1973 and became a member of the AfDB in 1983.
Similarly, in 1973 Canada joined the ADF and then enlisted as a member of the AfDB in 1982.
Diplomatic sources hinted that most non-regional member countries of the AfDB who are allies of the United States are said to be in support of the US position on the imperative of taking necessary steps to empower an independent and impartial investigations panel to probe the allegations made against Adesina and others mentioned in the whistleblowers’ petitions.
The United States had faulted the findings of the AfDB’s ethics committee which exonerated Adesina of all charges leveled against him by the group of “whistle-blowers.” While faulting the ethics team’s work, U.S. treasury Secretary, Mnuchin said:
“Had the Ethics Committee undertaken a proper preliminary examination that was in line with the Board of Governors Resolution B/BG/2008/11, standard practices at other international financial institutions, and the Bank’s own rules and procedures, it would have reviewed available facts that could be gathered by external counsel and found in internal Bank records. We fear that wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance.”
Recall that The New Diplomat had reported that the AfDB’s Ethics team led by Takuji Yano, a Japanese national, after investigations into these allegations had come out with a clean bill of health for
Adesina, stating clearly that the allegations are not factual. The Bank’s Ethics Team had in its report also underscored the point that the allegations as captured in the whistle-blowers’ petitions were not based on objective facts.
Adesina had repeatedly maintained his innocence.