By Dr Israel Ovirih
It has become expedient to declare it the way it is that Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is one of Nigeria’s brightest and shining lights in the multinational development sphere.
I personally have a lot of respect for his intellectual agility, prowess and contributions to national development, especially during President Godluck Jonathan Administration. I respect this great son of Africa even now that he is serving us at the continental level under the oldest financial development institution in the Continent, African Development Bank(AfDB).
I have personally read all the allegations against him. It’s quite worrisome and I think the Ethics Committee has done a great job. My fear is not for our own Dr. Adesina but the AfDB itself that is embroiled in this scandal of gargantuan proportions, even in this COVID-19 era; characterized by scandals revolving around its leadership; the Whistleblower, the Ethics Committee and the Board of Governors.
Only three (3) Institutions in the continent of Africa have an AAA rating from the likes of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. For your information, these AAA investment grade status is only held by the AfDB, Afreximbank and the country – Botswana. Sadly, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt with all our their glories do NOT have such high ratings.
Therefore, any scandal if not well managed could spell doom and a plunge to the south the AfDB rating and her capabilities to continuously function, raise huge capital and do all the incredible accomplishments our Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has achieved as its President. In the world of finance and international capital, your ratings and valuations are everything.
These AAA ratings are products of good governance, transparency and financial performance of the respective institutions.
My fear at this point therefore is that our forming regional blocs against the US – the second largest shareholder of the bank; at a time that this same US is voicing transparency and independent investigations, is an anomaly and may backfire in the very foreseeable future, if not sooner.
My frank opinion, without getting involved in politics is that the AfDB President and the Board of the Bank should not shy away from any independent inquiries because doing so may affect the fortune of the institution in the years to come.
I remember that there was a similar experience at Afreximbank before Prof Okey Oramah’s ascended Presidency. I recalled that the incumbent President had to relocate the bank’s head office operations from Cairo, Egypt to Abuja, Nigeria.
It’s always good to manage shareholders and major ones in a manner that shows diplomacy and respect, especially in a fragmented world where globalization is extremely threatened.
The story of Christene Lagarde formerly of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and now President of the European Central Bank should be instructive to us at this time. This is particularly so as the call for independent investigations is coming from America and for all you know, President Donald Trump probably is the at work! How can we forget how almighty America threatened to withdraw from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) just by the proclamations of a supposed emperor of the world, Donald Trump!
I believe that whatever the Ethics Committee concluded is what the mutually appointed Independent Investigators will finally arrive at, and our own President Akinwumi Adesina will be safe to proceed for his next tenure.
I believe that fighting un-diplomatically and following the “parapo” approach will be a disservice to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and indeed his next tenure if we proceed without proving his total innocence.
Afterall, Dr. Adesina banked on the AAA ratings which he met on ground at Cote D’ivoire to get the millions of capital he raised as AfDB President; and he should complete his tenure by ensuring the ratings stands, not for him, but for all Africans he has been appointed to serve.
Whichever way this crises goes, the truth will always prevail because truth is constant. Again, the Institution is bigger than all of us and we must strive to preserve it for us and the coming generations.
May God preserve Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and his AfDB Presidency for the good of Africa and indeed the world.
Dr Ovirih, a finance and entrepreneurship expert lives in Lagos, Nigeria