ADB … Cold war between the developed world and Africa

International relations experts compared the United States' quest to dictate how the African Development Bank's (ADB) internal affairs are conducted like a cold war, which Africa must ensure it wins, writes BALL OLAJUWON and ROBERT EGBE

For the United States, there is nothing wrong with changing the rules of the game in the midst of investigations into the charges against the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. But international relations experts are frowning at this. Former Permanent Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, said the United States must be resisted, insisting that the ADB's internal mechanism must be able to last.

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Lolo challenged those who alleged Adesina's unethical conduct to see where the bank is now where Adesina met him.

"If the ADB's internal body has submitted a report on the matter, why should a non-regional member be attacking that report?" the retired diplomat asked.

He urged African leaders not to allow a situation in which people practice politics with the bank's internal bodies.

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“Now, there is a controversy in the United States about a flagrant abuse of human rights that some people have committed. Why don't people point out to the USA that their justice system has failed, their justice system is corrupted, their justice is weak? They will disagree with you, ”said Lolo.

The retired diplomat emphasized that he supported the positions of African leaders in Adesina and hoped that they would use this to convince the rest of the world.

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Likewise, the former emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II yesterday asked Africans and friends from the continent to stand up and ensure that the established rules are respected in the ADB Group.

“The excellent letter written by the Minister of Finance says it all and I am pleased that President Obasanjo has considered the matter. Every well-meaning African or friend of Africa should talk about this, ”he said.

“It is a simple adherence to the best global governance practices. The ADB has clearly defined rules and processes for investigating and dealing with allegations of misconduct. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"As these processes were properly followed, it is unheard of that the rules are changed because someone does not like the result."

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Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said support for Adesina should not be seen as "defending a Nigerian or a friend".

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“I watched it at BAD and its stellar performance is there for everyone to see. It is not about defending a Nigerian or a friend, ”he continued.

For the former director general of the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Prof. Akinterinwa ball, there was no controversy on the matter.

"It is not a debate. It is a cold war between the developed world and the leaders of Africa. What does that mean? The problem is the war of struggle – a 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 this represents 9.3% of the shareholding in the bank and the USA has 6.5 and Algeria with 4.3%. The question is about the United States in the second position, wanting to ensure that its stake is used to protect the American interest to the detriment of other shareholders, I do not see the problem between AfDB and Adesina, but between the West and Africa.

“Back in 1981, President Shehu Shagari never wanted what we call extra-regional ownership. Bank membership is regional or non-regional. Regional refers to all 54 African member states and 27 non-regional members – they include the USA, the Chinese, Taiwan, others.

“At the time, Shagari was opposed to the idea of ​​allowing extra-African countries, but other African leaders were opposed to Nigeria's position. African leaders prevailed in Nigeria and Nigeria adhered to his request. And that's how this problem started. All of these non-regional people have more money – their contributions are dollarized and, in this specific case, start to get stronger. That is how the struggle for influence and control begins.

“So it's just not a problem between Adesina as the bank's president and the United States. It's more than that. It is an attempt to prevent Adesina from running the bank as he is now dealing with African challenges, ”said Akinterinwa.

Saying that he agreed with Africa's position, he added: "I can't help agreeing. The allegations are terribly atrocious. They are just ridiculous. One of the allegations says that the bank's director of agriculture is Adesina's brother-in-law. Adesina doesn't he is a fascinating person, but his wife is well known. The brother-in-law they are referring to is not like that. It is just a blatant lie.

On recruiting Nigerians, he said: “When the bank started, what was the proportion and population of Americans, Europeans or Westerners? The western world is nervous. They want to increase the population of their people in a way that they can control, especially in terms of shareholding. "

Former Nigeria ambassador to France, Akin Fayomi, supported the position of African leaders on the issue. "I really don't think I have anything new to add to the plethora of new and available opinions," he said.

The Federal Government, through a letter from the Minister of Finance, stayed with Adesina and rejected the call of the USA.

The heart of the matter

On January 19, a "Group of Concerned Employees" from the African Development Bank (AfDB) wrote a petition accusing AfDB President Akinwunmi Adesina of "violations of the Bank's Code of Conduct for Elected Officials".

The petition alleged that Mr. Adesina violated 16 of the bank's code of conduct, including "unethical conduct, private gain, impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, involvement in political activities, impunity and poor governance".

Adesina vigorously denied the charges and defended his integrity.

Whistleblowers also sent copies of the petition to the Director of the Bank's Integrity and Anti-Corruption Office (PIAC) and to the President of the Audit and Finance Committee (AUFI), in accordance with the Bank's “Complaints and Complaints Handling Policy. ”.

Between February 4 and April 9, 2020, the ethics committee held a series of meetings to review documents and presentations, conducting a "preliminary examination" of the allegations against Mr. Adesina to determine whether they were "based on objective facts. and solid ", according to Resolution nº B / BG / 2008/11. Resolution No. B / BG / 2008/11, adopted at the Bank's 43rd Annual Meeting, held on May 14, 2008, established the Code of Conduct for its Executive Directors and those of the African Development Fund (ADF). to the President of the Bank Group.

In addition to the petition, other documents reviewed during the series of committee meetings included the confidential memorandum presented by Mr. Adesina detailing his defense of the allegations against him.

On May 5, the bank's board of ethics committee, chaired by the institution's executive director in Japan, Takuji Yano, found that Adesina was not guilty of any of the allegations.

Yano, who led the investigation, described it as "spurious and unfounded" claims that Adesina violated the bank's code of conduct.

The ethics committee's verdict paved the way for Adesina, 60, to sign her second-term bid for the election as president of the AfDB at an annual general meeting scheduled for August.

But two weeks later, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the ethics committee's outcome and called for an independent investigation of the allegations.

In a May 22 letter to Niale Kaba, chairman of the bank's board of directors, Mnuchin said the Treasury disagreed with the bank's ethics committee findings that "totally exonerated" Adesina.

But the confidential memo sent by Mr. Adesina to the committee on April 8 gave a point-by-point response to all 16 allegations,

The memo also suggests that the "Stakeholder Group" allegations may be related to Adesina's presidential re-election attempt.

In the memo, Mr. Adesina accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the bank's Reporting Policy, publicly disclosing the matter in addition to submitting it to the ethics committee.

He accused petitioners of publicizing his allegations beyond the committee "acting together with others outside the AfDB system".

“The argument that other people act together with whistleblowers is not speculation. Apparently, a group of independent Bank employees wrote a & # 39; Disassociation Note & # 39; on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called & # 39; Stakeholder Group & # 39 ;, that is, the whistleblowers behind the Disclosure, but that they were "manipulated" by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr. (Steven) Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Development Bank, but to discredit the current President's candidacy for his re-election, ”said Adesina in his memo to the committee.

"Certainly, if the Disfellowshiping Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistleblower's complaint cannot be considered in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead , had another hidden motive, ”he added.

Dowd is the US government's representative at the bank.

One of the petitioners' claims is that Nigerians are overrepresented in the bank. "Certainly, Nigeria is the ADB's largest shareholder, with just over 9% of the capital, but could that explain why Mr. Adesina hires one Nigerian after another for leadership positions in the ADB?" wrote the group.

But discrimination against nationalities shows that this is false.

Based on the latest figures available in the employees' countries of origin, the French made up 63 of the ADB's staff (5.2% of the total), meaning that they are overrepresented in proportion to the share capital of France ( 3.7%).

Obasanjo's opinion

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticized the United States last Thursday for insisting on an "independent investigation" of the allegations.

Obasanjo, in a letter to the Council and 13 former African leaders, said the release granted to Akinwunmi, which he said had performed well, by established institutions, should have resolved the issue.

He questioned the US insistence on "independent investigation", declaring that "it is outside the bank's rules, laws, procedures and governance systems".

“The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the bank's entire governance system, which has been in place since 1964.

“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group.

"If we don't stand up and defend the African Development Bank, it could mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked from Africa."

He called for solidarity in the struggle to preserve the bank's independence, stating that former African leaders should issue a joint statement “to support the procedures established to assess the allegations and recommend that the Board of Governors, as well as the Bank's Ethics Committee , you must firmly maintain your process and your result. "

The AfDB Group consists of 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 the ADB after his five-year election in September 2015. He was Nigeria's agriculture minister from 2011 until his move.

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