Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the board of African Development Bank (AfDB) to disregard the call for a fresh probe of the bank’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
The House made the call at the plenary yesterday following a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, entitled, “Attempts to Tarnish the Image and Hard-Earned Reputation of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank on Trumped-Up Allegations.”
Adopting the motion, the lawmakers urged the federal government to call on all African leaders to intervene in the matter.
While moving the motion, Elumelu recalled that on May 8, 2015, Adesina was elected the presumptive President of the AfDB, being the first Nigerian to hold such office.
According to him, the AfDB, under Adesina’s leadership, has been very remarkable in steering the organisation, and its presence highly visible and impactful in less than five years of his headship.
The lawmaker, however, said, “The House is concerned that recently, a group of whistleblowers petitioned Dr Adesina, accusing him of 16 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, some of which include private gains, impediments to efficiency, preferential treatment and involvement in political activities, which Adesina has continued to deny.
“The House is further concerned that on an investigation by the ethics committee of the board of directors, the allegations were found to be frivolous, unsubstantiated, lack merit and, therefore, exonerated Adesina on all 16 allegations.
“The chairman (of the) board of governors, being satisfied that the committee had done a thorough job, having followed all known rules and procedures of the bank in handling such cases, declared Adesina exonerated.
“The House is worried that though the ethics committee of the board of directors followed the established law governing the AfDB in arriving at their decision in absolving Adesina of the allegations, the United States’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to the Chairperson of the bank, Niale Koba, rejected the verdict of the committee and called for an independent investigation into the allegations against Adesina, whose tenure is due for renewal, given the fact that he is the only contender to the office.”
Elumelu added that the House was disturbed that the interference portends grave danger to the independence and laws governing the establishment of the AfDB.
He stressed that if the issue was not addressed, it would be tantamount to “undermining the hard-earned reputation of the bank.”
According to him, the House is troubled that “this action may be an attempt to discredit Adesina from seeking another term at the helm of Africa’s largest multilateral lender”.
Elumelu noted that former African leaders, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others, in their wisdom, issued a press statement showing the grave danger it portends to disregard the laws governing an institution such as the AfDB, as well stating in clear terms that no nation, no matter how powerful, has veto power over the bank.
The lawmaker said, “The House is further troubled that if this sort of witch-hunt and unnecessary harassment is not put to check and discouraged, it may become a recurring decimal, thereby destabilising the stability the bank has enjoyed for decades and the intended results on a steady decrease.”