By Abdul Usman
AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina’s re-election bid received a massive boost on Tuesday with President Muhammadu Buhari assuring him of Nigeria’s total support.
Buhari gave the assurance on Tuesday when he hosted Adesina at the State House in Abuja.
The African Union (AU) and the bank’s board have already endorsed Adesina as a sole candidate for the continent, but some stakeholders, including the United States, are trying to ensure that he was re-investigated over some allegations.
But Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, recalled that he supported Adesina’s bid for the position in 2015, even when they both belonged to different political parties.
He said he had no reason to change his mind on the re-election bid by the Ogun State-born former Minister of Agriculture.
The President said: “In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position.
“I didn’t say because you were a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) minister and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC) so I would withhold my support. . I will remain consistent with you because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria.”
Buhari pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Adesina was elected for a second term built on the record of his achievements during his first term.
Giving a background into what was happening in the bank, Adesina said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidences, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”
Clarifying that the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, he said the calls for fresh investigation by the US were against the rules governing the bank.
His words ”My defence ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned. The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank.
“It was done and the governors upheld the recommendations. That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched.
“I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.”
Stressing that the motive was to soil his name and that of the bank, the AfDB President said he was proud to be a Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.
“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the AU unanimously endorsed my re-election” he declared.
While commiserating with President Buhari on the death of his former Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, Adesina described Prof. Ibrahim Gambari (the new Chief of Staff) as “a man of integrity, and of global standing.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the House of Representatives had said that the interference of the US in the running of the AfDB portended grave danger for the actualisation of the objectives of the bank.
The House therefore enjoined African leaders to work with the bank’s board to halt the probe of the bank’s boss being championed by the US.
It threw its weight behind Adesina’s second term bid , saying the allegations against him were sponsored by western nations who are not happy with his achievements.
Also on Tuesday, the Vice-President, Industrial Global Union, Issa Aremu, called on the AU to back President Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo by fighting for the independence of the bank.
He said there was urgent need for a categorical position by the AU on the unfolding development within AfDB, especially as the U.S.Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin wrote an open letter disagreeing with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors of the AfDB.
According to him, “It is surprising that while the bank’s African shareholders are satisfied with the findings of the Ethics Committee, the US, a non-African member with only 6.5 per cent of the shares is insisting on a further probe despite the clean bill of health given to Adesina by the board of directors of the bank.”