- US pledges support for continental bank
Chuks Okocha, Omololu Ogunmade, Deji Elumoye, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Nume Ekeghe and Dike Onwuamaeze in Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari; his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and one of her predecessors, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, among others, were in a euphoric mood wednesday as Dr. Akinwumi Adesina won his bid for a second term as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Adesina, a former Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, was unanimously elected by both regional and non-regional members of the continental bank.
In a statement issued yesterday to announce Adesina’s re-election, AfDB Acting Director, Communication and External Relations Department, Mr. Nafissatou Diouf, said the “globally renowned development economist and a World Food Prize Laureate and Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Adesina, has distinguished himself in driving a bold agenda to reform the bank and accelerate Africa’s development. He was first elected as President of the bank on May 28, 2015.
“As newly re-elected president, Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, will begin his new term on September 1, 2020.”
Adesina thanked the board of the bank in his reaction to his re-election for a second five- year term, which he described as yet another call for selfless service to Africa and AfDB and promised to dedicate himself to the task ahead.
He said: “Right now, the sound that is loudest in my ears is the announcement of my re-election as president of AfDB for a second term. We also made history by re-electing me by 100 per cent vote via e-vote and became the first president of the bank in its history to be re-elected by 100 per cent vote by the shareholders. For this I am most grateful and very appreciative.
“I am deeply grateful for your collective thrust, confidence and support. I am greatly honoured and humbled. It is yet another call – a call for selfless service to Africa and AfDB. Today, a rainbow stretches from 81 member countries of AfDB across the deep blue skies of Africa with one message: The rain is gone. Gone are the dark clouds that held us down.
“I look forward to working closely with each and every one of you for the urgent and difficult task of supporting Africa to build back better, smarter and boldly from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Adesina said his re-election demonstrated the transparency of AfDB as an institution and showed the weight of support behind his vision for the bank.
“It shows a very clear and strong mandate from all shareholders to go and implement the vison. It shows that all voices were heard. It shows that we are true to the constitutive text of our bank,” he stated.
He promised to build on the strong foundations of success in the past five years, while strengthening the institution for greater effectiveness and impacts.
The election result, which gave him a 100 per cent of votes of all regional and non-regional members of the bank, was announced by the Chairperson of AfDB Board of Governors, Mrs. Niale Kaba, who doubles as Minister of National Planning of Côte d’Ivoire.
The election took place on the final day of the 2020 Annual Meetings of the AfDB, which was held virtually for the first time in the bank’s history.
Kaba said: “I am delighted that the Board of Governors have re-elected Dr. Adesina for a second term in office as president. As shareholders, we strongly support the bank and will give him all the necessary support to carry forward and implement his compelling vision for the bank over the next five years.”
Diouf said Adesina’s first term was focused on the bold new agenda for the bank group based on five development priorities known as the High 5s: Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
He said the programmes achieved impactful results on the lives of 335 million Africans, including 18 million people with access to electricity; 141 million people benefiting from improved agricultural technologies for food security; 15 million people benefiting from access to finance from private investments; 101 million people provided with access to improved transport and 60 million people gaining access to water and sanitation.
He added that the bank maintained its AAA-ratings by all major global credit rating agencies for five years in a row.
Adesina also guided the bank to successfully raise its capital by 125 per cent as directed by the board from $93 billion to $208 billion, the largest in the history of the bank.
Diouf stated that the bank was ranked the fourth most transparent institution globally by Publish What You Fund under Adesina’s leadership to bolster its strong governance credentials for transparency and accountability.
“Under Adesina’s leadership, the African Development Bank’s Board of Directors approved a $10 billion facility to support African countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank also launched a $3 billion COVID-19 social bond on the global capital markets, the highest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world history, which is listed on London Stock Exchange, Luxembourg Stock Exchange and NASDAQ,” Diouf added.
Adesina’s victory yesterday was preceded by a crisis that could have knocked him out of the race.
He was recently cleared of allegations of wrongdoing by an independent probe panel, which found no evidence of wrongdoing by him.
The probe was initiated after some whistle-blowers had accused him of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions at the Abidjan-based bank.
The Independent Review Panel was set up July 2 by the Bureau of Governors of the bank, following a complaint by the United States, to review the process by which two organs of the bank – the Ethics Committee of the Board and the Bureau of the Board of Governors – had previously exonerated Adesina.
The United States Treasury Secretary, Mr. Steven Mnuchin, had rejected the institution’s ethics committee’s original report, leading to the setting up of the review panel.
However, before the election, Mnuchin had pledged that the US would continue to work in partnership with AfDB to support African countries in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in advancing the developmental goals of the continent.
Mnuchin, who represents the US on AfDB Board, said in a statement yesterday on the 2020 Annual Meetings of the bank that “the United States will continue working together in partnership to deliver on the potential of the African Development Bank Group and to support African countries in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing their development goals. We hope the day will come soon when we can return to conducting business normally.”
According to him, the ongoing annual meetings are taking place at a time when the economic impact of the COVID-19 could force many African nations into recession for the first time in 25 years.
He estimated that expansionary policies designed to offset the economic consequences of lockdown measures, emergency public health expenditures and weaker tax revenues would drive fiscal deficits wider across Africa both this year and next.
He stated that while the international community had aggressively responded in providing debt payment suspension through the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative and emergency financing, regional and global economic outlook remains uncertain.
He urged countries to see the pandemic as an opportunity to improve debt management and pursue structural reforms that lay the foundation for stronger medium-term growth and economic resilience.
Mnuchin said AfDB’s potential to drive meaningful improvement in the lives of Africans was more relevant than ever, noting that as the pandemic creates challenges for the poorest nations, AfDB would be looked upon as an essential sources of support.
“We appreciate the frank assessment management has provided of its progress towards meeting the reform commitments under the Seventh General Capital Increase. In particular, we commend management for attention to the steps needed to meet the end-of-year deadline for an updated financial sustainability model, so that AfDB maintains capital adequacy ratios above their thresholds for at least ten years.
“There remains, however, much more work to do. We urge a serious analytical effort this year to understand how the bank will be more selective and cost-effective in its operations.
“The bank must do more to manage its resources more wisely and ensure through the Total Compensation Review that it offers a competitive and cost-effective value proposition to staff.
“The independent oversight functions of the AfDB – including integrity, evaluation, and audit – must be given the resources and necessary freedom to operate effectively. The AfDB’s ethics and governance framework must also be updated to bring it up to the standards of its peers.”
Adesina’s Re-election Excites Buhari, Others
The announcement of Adesina’s re-election has generated reactions from the president and other top government officials.
Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he received the news of Adesina’s victory while presiding over a virtual Council of State meeting in the State House, Abuja “with a round of applause.”
The statement said: “As Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, announced the good news, President Buhari led a round of applause, and declared: ‘He deserves it.’”
The president also thanked the African Union (AU) for its earlier endorsement of AfDB president and the shareholders of the bank, whom he said worked tirelessly to ensure the return of the visionary leader.
The statement added: “President Buhari believes Dr. Adesina’s versatility, experience at both national and international engagements, will be further deployed to energise the pan-African financial institution, urging him to remain focused and steadfast in pursuing the noble goals of making life better for Africans through various development plans, already captured as High 5s.
“The president rejoices with family, friends and professional colleagues of Dr Adesina over the re-election while commending members of staff and Board of Governors of AfDB for their consistent support for the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and his management team.
“While pledging full support of his government to ensure a successful tenure for the AfDB leadership, President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will continue to strengthen Dr. Adesina and his team for greater good to the continent.”
In a goodwill message to Adesina, Jonathan said the AfDB boss recorded significant achievements in his first tenure and urged him to do more to ensure that the impact of the bank’s development initiatives is felt across the continent.
“I am proud of Dr. Adesina because he has remained consistent as a man of vision and considerable capacity; traits he generously put to use while serving as a key member of our administration’s economic team and minister of agriculture.
“His first term as president of AfDB brought about exemplary leadership, significant achievements and broken records, especially with the bank’s recent unprecedented capital increase by 125 pert cent to $208 billion,” Jonathan stated.
On his part, Lawan hailed the re-election of Adesina, saying his victory affirmed the confidence and trust of the shareholders, management and staff of the bank in his leadership of the institution.
According to him, the renewal of Adesina’s mandate is an attestation to his excellent performance as president, evident in the bank’s numerous developmental initiatives on the African continent.
Lawan, in a statement, said: “I am elated to convey the joy and pride of the entire National Assembly over the electoral acclamation for integrity, grace, substance and hardwork.
“Your re-election should be an impetus for taking the continental financial institution to a greater height, realising that the reward for hardwork is more work.”
In his congratulatory message, Gbajabiamila described Adesina’s re-election as a triumph of integrity and dedication to duty.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his spokesperson, Mr. Lanre Lasisi, said the re-election had provided Adesina with another opportunity to consolidate and sustain AfDB as a global financial force while pushing for African development agenda.
“As I congratulate you on this historic milestone with the belief that the bank is in good hands, this is to remind you that your re-election is a call to rededicate yourself to duty towards positioning the bank as a global financial institution to reckon with,” he stated.
The minister of finance also expressed delight at Adesina’s re-election.
In a Twitter post, Ahmed congratulated AfDB president, saying “the election was by a double majority from the regional and non-regional countries – 100 per cent of regional and 100 per cent of non-regional votes.”
Okonjo-Iweala also congratulated Adesina on his re-election and wished him a successful tenure.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also seeking appointment as the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, congratulated Adesina via her verified Twitter handle: @NOIweala.
She tweeted: “Wonderful to get the news of the re-election of @akin_adesina as President of @AfDB_Group. Hearty congratulations to you, my brother, and to Grace! Wishing you five more fruitful years!!”
A former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, described Adesina as an unapologetically African and his victory well deserved.
“You have proven yourself a true son of Africa, unapologetically and unrepentantly committed to the socio-economic emancipation of the continent and it is my hope that you will lead the bank to surpass the successes of your first tenure,” he added.
He described Adesina’s re-election as “a landmark victory, not only for Nigeria, but also for Africa as a whole.”
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who doubles as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), described Adesina’s re-election as an attestation to his dynamic and pragmatic leadership which has helped to reposition the bank.
In a message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, the governor urged Adesina to sustain the tempo of his restructuring at the continental bank for it to live up to the expectation of bringing development to the black race.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also congratulated Adesina on his re-election, saying it was not only earned but well- deserved.
The party, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Adesina’s re-election was not surprising in view of the competence and commitment he displayed in uplifting and promoting the bank’s operations since 2015.
According to the party, Adesina has attracted praises in bringing his deep knowledge in economic development to bear on the bank’s primary functions of making loans and equity investments for the socio-economic advancement of Regional Member Countries (RMC).
PDP also commended Adesina for improving on the bank’s key role of providing technical assistance for development projects and programmes as well as promoting investment of public and private capital for development.