The build-up to the re-election of Adewumi Adesina as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) was characterised by intrigues from interests beyond the continent of Africa. Specifically, the United States came up with myriad of allegations of impropriety against the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture. Even against its own procedures, the board of the bank bowed to US pressure to institute a fresh investigation after weeks in which past and present African leaders had complained bitterly that Washington was meddling in the institution’s affairs.
Eventually, an independent panel of experts cleared Adesina of all the charges levelled against him, paving way for his unopposed re-election at the bank’s general meeting last month. To be sure, the US is one of the 27 other stakeholders of the bank with its share standing at 6.5 per cent. But questions remain as to why some US officials were all out to abort the second-term ambition of Adesina who had the backing of his home country as openly demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In exonerating Adesina, the independent panel, according to its conclusion, was mindful of the fact that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. At the same time, “it appears to us to be an undue burden to expect a holder of high office in an international organisation, to prove a negative, in the absence of sufficient grounds. An attorney writing on behalf of the president, also argues quite correctly in our view, that a distinction should be drawn between alleged institutional failure at the bank and the conduct of the president.”
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