• They want to tarnish my reputation, says ADB chief
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari assured the terrified President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) yesterday,
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, of Nigeria's firm commitment to his second term offer.
The president, while hosting Adesina, who visited him at the State House in Abuja, said that the African Union (AU) had already ratified his candidacy for reelection.
The president spoke in the context of an underground campaign to knock out Adesina from the race with allegations of impropriety against him by some ADB officials.
Although the bank's ethics committee, in a report, already confirmed by the ADB's Board of Directors, removed it from the allegations, the United States, the largest non-African shareholder, rejected the report.
The United States, now supported by other non-African shareholders, such as Britain, Norway, Finland and Denmark, has asked for an independent panel to investigate the allegations, despite the suggestion being outside the continental bank's governance procedures.
The defense of the United States is widely considered a ploy by non-African shareholders of the multilateral institution to deny Adesina a second term.
But Buhari, according to a statement from his media consultant, Femi Adesina, told Nigeria's former agriculture minister that if he had willingly supported Adesina when he served as minister in the opposition party in 2015, he would do more for him now; more so that no Nigerian had criticized the support he offered him at that time.
He said: “In 2015, when you would be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position.
"I did not say why you were a minister of the Democratic Peoples Party (PDP) and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC), so I would withhold my support. I will remain consistent with you, because no one has violated the step I took on behalf of Nigeria. "
The president pledged Nigeria's readiness to work with other ADB leaders and stakeholders to secure Adesina's re-election, with a view to recording his achievements during his first term.
The statement explained that although the AU had already endorsed Adesina as the sole candidate for the continent, some other interested parties wanted him to be investigated again on some allegations, with a view to thwarting his second-term offer.
The statement added that the ADB chief told Buhari that the 16 allegations raised against him were rejected "and without facts, evidence and documents, as required by the bank's rules and regulations".
Adesina told the president that the bank's Ethics Committee withdrew him from all allegations, adding that requests for a new US investigation are antithetical to the rules.
He said: “My defense reached 250 pages and no line was criticized or questioned. The law says that the Ethics Committee report must be transmitted to the bank's President of Governors.
“It was done, and the governors kept the recommendations. That was the end of the matter, according to the rules.
“Only if I were guilty, would it be possible to start a new investigation.
"I was exonerated and any further investigation would amount to distorting the bank's rules, to reach a predetermined conclusion."
Adesina explained that the reason behind the new call was to dirty his name and that of the bank, saying he was proud to be Nigerian and thanked Buhari for his unwavering support.
"You helped me get elected first and you always supported me vigorously, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election," he said.
Adesina lamented with Buhari the death of his former chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, and described his replacement, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as "a man of integrity and a global position".