An independent review panel has exonerated Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank, of any ethical wrong doing. It clears the way for Adesina to stand for a second five-year term as president of the bank, at its annual meetings between August 25 and 27.
The panel was set up by the bureau of governors of the AfDB following a complaint by the United States. It included: former Irish president Mary Robinson; Hassan B Jallow, the chief justice of the supreme court of Gambia; and Leonard McCarthy, a former director of public prosecutions in South Africa.
The probe began in January when 16 allegations of ethical conduct were levelled by a group of whistle blowers. The allegations were reviewed first by the AfDB’s ethics committee and dismissed as frivolous and without merit. These findings were upheld by a meeting of the bank’s board of governors in May.
“It has considered the president’s submissions on their face value and find them consistent with his innocence,” the three-person panel said in a statement.
When Adesina was elected, in 2015, he was seen as a breath of fresh air in development finance in the continent. He had studied in the United States, the same university that produced astronaut Neil Armstrong, and slogged his way up through development work in Africa and a stint as the agriculture minister of Nigeria – the country of his birth. He promised action and spoke passionately about Africa
“When I watch on TV Africans clinging to rickety boats trying to get to Europe that is not the Africa I want to see,” says Adesina at the launch of the Africa Investment Forum, in 2018, in Johannesburg. The AIF is his brainchild and raised billions in investment in Africa.
“I want a new Africa that people want to come to and not move out of.”
On Adesina’s watch the AfDB launched a $10 billion fund to help African nations fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In June and July, Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings gave the AfDB a AAA rating with a stable outlook.