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AfDB: Adesina gets Nigeria’s support for reelection bid

…says allegations against him trumped-up, without facts

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria will stand solidly behind Akinwunmi Adesina in his bid to get re-elected as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Adesina was on a courtesy visit to the president at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.

According to a statement by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Buhari said that in 2015 when Adesina was to be elected for the first term, he (Buhari) wrote to all African leaders recommending Adesina for the position.

“I didn’t say because you were a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) minister, and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC), so I would withhold my support. I’ll remain consistent with you, because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria,” Buhari said.

The president pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Adesina was elected for a second term built on the record of his achievements during his first term.

Buhari’s expression of Nigeria’s support for Adesina is coming less than a week after former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed also threw the weight of their support behind Adesina.

Adesina, 60, a former minister of agriculture and rural development in Nigeria, was first elected as AfDB president on May 28, 2015.

His re-election bid has been widely supported, including by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose Authority of Heads of States and Governments gave its nod after its 56th ordinary session in Abuja last December.

The African Union had also endorsed the Adesina as sole candidate for the seat.

His milestones in the last five years have been amply celebrated, including by Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In a letter to 14 former presidents of African countries, dated May 26, Obasanjo had extolled Adesina’s work at the AfDB, saying he has “performed very well in this position over the past five years” and “taken the bank to great heights”.

If the AfDB had gone on with the election of its president on May 28 as originally scheduled, Adesina would no doubt have been reelected, being the sole candidate for the position.

But his bid is now being challenged by whistle-blowing allegations of inappropriate conducts allegations of inappropriate conducts.

The bank’s Ethics Committee, after looking into the matter, cleared Adesina of all the allegations brought against him, but following US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s open rejection of the decision, AfDB may order a new and independent probe of Adesina, although the bank’s Board of Governors has said in a statement that it did not request for a fresh investigation and that it has not also ordered the president’s resignation.

Giving a background to what was happening in the bank, Adesina said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped-up “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank”.

He said the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, and that calls for fresh investigation by the United States of America were against the rules.

“My defence ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned. The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations. That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched. I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion,” Adesina said.

Stressing that the motive was to soil his name, and that of the bank, the AfDB president said he was proud to be Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.

Analysts have also said the open rejection of the report of the AfDB’s Ethics Committee and the call for a fresh “independent” probe risk eroding the independence of the bank’s corporate governance structure and raise doubt about the bank’s internal integrity mechanisms.

“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election,” Adesina told Buhari on Tuesday.

The AfDB election is now scheduled for August 25-27.

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