A New Dawn for Africa and for the AFDB

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…as Robinson’s Panel absolves Adesina, setting the stage for US support

By Ken Giami and Kingsley Okeke

The report of the high-level Independent review panel set up by the Bureau of Governors of the African Development Bank, to review the processes and reports of the Ethics committee that cleared the Bank’s president, of charges brought against him by whistleblowers, in response to complaints by the United States, is finally out.  In a unanimous decision, the panel cleared Dr Adesina of all the 16 charges, brought against him by a “group of concerned staff members”. The 33-page report concludes that “the Panel is satisfied that the Ethics Committee considered the complaints received by it on 19 January 2020 comprehensively and responsibly and followed correct procedures.”

The three-person high-calibre Independent Review Panel was led by Mary Robinson, a former President of Ireland, who was also a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and currently the Chairperson of the Elders – an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights. The other members were Justice Hassan Jallow, Chief Justice of The Gambia, and a former Prosecutor of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal; and Leonard F McCarthy, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, a former Director for the Office of Serious Economic Offences, and a former Head of the Directorate of Special Operations of South Africa. McCarthy also served as the Vice President of Integrity for the World Bank for nine years. 

The Robinson’s report puts to rest the months and weeks of uncertainty that hung over the development institution and Dr Adesina’s re-election, in spite of the overwhelming support he enjoys from across the continent and the endorsement from ECOWAS for his unopposed bid for a second term in office. Clearly, a stellar performer, with a bouquet of recognitions and global prizes to his credit, Dr Adesina’s integrity was put through the fire, and he has come out victorious. It is indeed a victory for truth and a new dawn for Africa and the African Development Bank.

Special commendations must, therefore, go to the Mary Robinson-led panel for living up to its billing, and performing a thorough independent review, that leaves no one in doubt of the stamp of the integrity of the panel members. Also worthy of note is the support of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, and a broad spectrum of African Leaders who all echoed with one voice that Dr Adesina was tried, tested and reliable. And I dare say congratulations to Dr Adesina for being an honourable man, whose integrity and trustworthiness can be counted upon. This is a win for the Bank’s ethics committee that indeed it had done the right thing in exonerating President Adesina, at the first instance, of the ‘spurious charges’ brought against him by the whistleblowers, underscoring the robust institutional governance processes in place at the Bank. It is also a win for Africa that we have a man at the helms of its leading development finance institution that is untainted, competent and committed to the Africa project.

What Next? 

That Dr Adesina is competent, and an achiever is not in doubt. The records of his achievements and impact in the lives of the African people speak for themselves. And armed with this new certification of his integrity by the Mary Robison’s report, It is time for all stakeholders, detractors and friends alike, to rally round the Bank and give it the much-needed support, under the leadership of Akinwumi Adesina, as the Bank drives a vigorous Africa response to the multi-pronged challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic on the continent.

It is especially time for the United States, to find in Dr Adesina, what other leaders have seen and confirmed, that he is worthy ally, and a person of unimpeachable credentials and character. I see in Dr Adesina, who trained at the Purdue University in the United States, a man who stands for the ideals upon which the US was founded – a foundation built on God, democracy, liberty, equality, and the pursuit of opportunities for prosperity for all. It is with the same ideals that he had presided over the African Development Bank, and his successes are a reflection of the American training and ideals he lives by. Robinson’s report, therefore, sets the stage for the United States to reach out and support one of their Purdue-trained technocrats – Akinwumi Adesina, as he carries the torch of development across Africa.

With this distraction behind him, Dr Adesina would now pursue Africa’s Industrialization with renewed enthusiasm. He has always carried the torch of development that looks to transform the continent—moving her from the poverty hub of the world to a major centre of development – one that prioritizes job creation and Industrialization. The Akinwumi Adesina-led African Development Bank’s fiery desire to see the continent transformed is captured in the simple but, thoroughgoing High 5 strategy. A very effective plan, it looks set to light up and power the continent; feed; industrialize and integrate Africa. It also focuses on improving the quality of life of the people of the continent. According to available data, in the past five years, the strategy has helped over 18 million people obtain access to electricity; helped 140 million people to access agricultural technologies for food security; provided finance for 13 million people through private sector investee companies; 101 million people to access improved transport services; and 60 million people to improved water and sanitation.

An unhindered AfDB has been able to achieve these laudable goals in the past five years and eager to do more. While the first five years have been quite eventful and the period in which the Bank scored many firsts, we are still a long walk to the promised land. 

As Africa’s foremost development finance institution, now is the time to band together to fill the yawning gaps that still exist. 

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