…Dr. Akinwumi Adesina received Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019
If circumstances ever forced you to ponder upon your sooty skin as an African, Akinwunmi Adesina’s indictment over corruption allegations would have brought you sadness, and his acquittal and subsequent re-election as AfDB President would have brought you immense happiness. You are not alone. I shudder to imagine what would have been the case if he were found culpable.
The entire continent is celebrating his re-election, and this is for a very good reason. For a continent synonymous with corruption in high places, one still wonders how Adesina managed to keep his hands clean. Perhaps, he is not Nigerian enough.
Akinwumi Adesina’s re-election has changed the atmosphere and the feeling is what every Black person should enjoy while it lasts. This victory is an outright African brand because we all felt disappointed when the trumped-up allegations raised against him a few months back surfaced. But, against all odds, he came out triumphantly, ushering in his second term in office with no iota of opposition as he garnered 100 per cent votes from the Board of Governors of the Bank during the 55th virtual annual meeting of the Bank in Abidjan on August 27, 2020.
While Akinwumi Adesina continues to be inundated with commendations across the globe for this historic feat, African political, economic and religious leaders should relish this moment that a black man with distinct honour and dignified personality still lives; which serves as an opportunity for them to appraise their offices.
African nations should be reminded that battles of political maladies, economic mishaps and social malaise are what have kept the continent in the dark. This collective dearth tagged African syndrome is mostly caused by corruption of its leaders who amass public resources for personal gain and become insensitive to the plight of the people they claim to lead.
This situation is further worsened as they plunge the countries into debts incurred from the western world, which adversely affects local currencies and ultimately the continent’s international standing.
Akinwumi Adesina’s triumph should be a constant reminder to all African leaders that integrity pays, just as it has for the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It is a clear demonstration that anyone trusted with leadership positions in political, economic, religious or social space can live above board. Even in Africa.
The narrative would have been different if the outcome of probe instituted before his re-election had turned out otherwise. Recall that it all started after some disgruntled staff turned whistleblowers within the Bank petitioned Adesina on January 19, 2020. Fortunately, an eight-page report released by the Ethics Committee of the AfDB led by a Japanese, Takuji Yano on April 26, 2020, found nothing in the president.
Sadly, the report was rejected by the United States, which has been a member of the institution since 1983. The chairman of the board of governors, Niale Kaba received a document on May 22, 2020 that the US did not accept the recommendations of the internal investigators that sat to exonerate Adesina.
The petition was signed by the American Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. The document read: “We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee’s process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.
“Had the Ethics Committee undertaken a proper preliminary examination that was in line with the Board of Governors Resolution B/BG/2008/11, standard practices at other international financial institutions, and the Bank’s own rules and procedures, it would have reviewed available facts that could be gathered by external counsel and found in internal Bank records.
“We fear that wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance.”
The debate led to the inauguration of a three-man panel of the former Irish President, Mary Robinson; Chief Justice of Gambia, Hassan B. Jallow; and World Bank Integrity Vice-President, Leonard McCarthy. This external review committee on July 28, 2020, declared Adesina clean of all charges as it could not find any fault in him.
Our leaders, especially in political positions, should know that their actions while holding the reins would be evaluated sooner or later. Like in the case of Daniel in the Bible who came out unhurt from the den of lions because the allegations against him were false, Adesina passed the test set by United States-established examiners and emerged exultant. How many of our presidents and other figures managing the nations and its numerous organisations can distinctly scale such hurdles?
African leaders should be world-class leaders with integrity and innovations for re-writing the African narratives. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina initiated major transformations in the agricultural field, including increasing rice production through the introduction of high yielding technologies, designing and implementing policies to support farmers’ access to technologies at scale, expanding the availability of credit for millions of smallholder farmers, attracting private investments for the agricultural sector, rooting out the corrupt elements in the fertilizer industry, and assisting in the establishment of major agricultural policies for Africa’s green revolution.
Africa indisputably has an array of dignified personalities that can project leadership enriched with integrity, loyalty and honesty for the world to see and applaud. Africa is the second-largest continent both in landmass and population, and the present resources and researched projections have confirmed the region as the emerging global market, and this is one of the reasons we cannot afford to degrade the continent with irritant qualities. Our continent can still boastfully produce Nelson Mandela’s, Kofi Anan’s, if only we guard our integrity like that of Akinwumi Adesina – the reigning African model leader.