It has been congratulatory messages all the way from all corners of the globe to African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, on his re-election for another five-year term. His re-election did not come on a platter of gold and that makes it more remarkable and ‘celebratable’. Adesina, in the last couple of months, has become a rallying and solidarity point for Nigerians, nay Africans, of various beliefs, tribes and tongue when it became clear that the Americans were as usual trying to be a bull in the China shop and were playing the spoiler, especially where an accomplished black man was receiving plaudits for his performance on the big stage. Although Adesina was the sole candidate for AfDB presidency, there were forces who were being spurred and gingered to oppose his candidature because of some phantom allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of office
Early this year, whistle blowers accused him of graft, mismanagement, personal enrichment and nepotism. The Ethics Committee of AfDB and the Bureau of the Board of Governors found him innocent of all allegations, after investigations. Even when he was cleared by these statutory in-house panels, there was still an insistence on external investigations, particularly by the United States, which is one of the major shareholders of the bank. A panel of three independent auditors, made up of former Irish President Mary Robinson, Chief Justice of Gambia Hassan Jallow, and former World Bank Vice-President, Leonard McCarthy, reviewed the panels’ reports and concurred with the clearance he received.
All the insistence by the US for more probe has now come to naught and after being duly cleared, Adesina was free to contest for a second term as AfDB President. His popularity has no doubt soared. And Nigerians were all rooting for him. Not since late Professor Adebayo Adedeji was head of the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa in the 70s has Nigeria been this united behind one of its own to lead a pan-African body. For those who need reminding, Adebayo Adedeji – born 21st December 1930 and died 25th April 2018 – was a Nigerian economist and academic.
He became a full Professor at the age of 36 and was Federal Commissioner (they are referred to as Ministers these days) for Economic Development and Reconstruction from 1971 to 1975, during the Gowon years. He is credited with being responsible for the economic development and reconstruction of Nigeria after the civil war. He is also credited with the Lagos Plan of Action of 1980 that was adopted by the United Nations and Organisation of African Unity. In June 1975, he was appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, and remained in the position until July 1991.
Adedeji died on 25th April 2018 in Lagos after a prolong illness but he is fondly remembered for how he flew the Nigerian flag on the continental and global stage and hardly anyone had a harsh or negative word to say about him but his name was always mentioned with pride by all and sundry, just like the name Akinwunmi Adesina has been ringing a similar bell in the last few years, which made his countrymen stand solidly behind him before his re-election. Adesina says his re-election is yet another call for selfless service to Africa and the African Development Bank. Adesina, who like Adedeji is a former Nigerian minister, but for agriculture, promised to build on the strong foundations of success the bank recorded in the past five years under his watch.
60-year-old Adesina was unanimously elected for the second term as AfDB president by the Board of Governors of the Bank last Thursday during their 55th annual meetings, winning 100% of votes of all regional and non-regional members of the bank in an election held electronically at the virtual annual general meeting of the bank. Leading the congratulatory messages to him was President Muhammadu Buhari who, on behalf of the Federal Executive Council and Nigerians in general, felicitated with Adesina, on his re-election. News of the victory was said to have come during the Council of State meeting that Thursday and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, was said to have announced the good news, to all present and President Buhari led a round of applause to celebrate the good news.
The President thanked the African Union for its endorsement of the AfDB President earlier in the year and was grateful to other shareholders of the bank who worked tirelessly to ensure the return of the Nigerian. Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also offered hearty congratulations to Dr. Adesina on his re-election as AfDB President, saying he had proven himself as a good administrator and technocrat in different public offices at national and international levels in the last 30 years. Governor Sanwo-Olu was confident that the re-election would bring more development to Africa, and most importantly Nigeria. Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, on behalf of the people of his State, also congratulated Dr. Adesina, saying the re-election was a blessing to Nigeria to have retained leadership of the regional institution, considering the many developmental contributions by the Bank to member countries.
Meanwhile BBC has apologised and says it has removed the word ‘Flamboyant’ from its description of Akinwumi Adesina in a tweet. BBC had described Adesina as a ‘flamboyant Nigerian banker,’ and subsequently received backlash from several commentators who found the word offensive. After Adesina’s re-election, BBC Africa tweeted: “Flamboyant Nigerian banker Akinwumi Adesina has been re-elected chairman of the African Development Bank (AfDB) after weathering a political storm over allegations of corruption”. The backlash caused BBC to apologise and remove the offensive word ‘Flamboyant’. Whichever way you describe Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, his trademark bow ties cannot be missed during global economic meetings and his contributions to African development with his leadership of AfDB in the last 5 years would no doubt make the world expect more from him in the coming years.