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A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged African leaders to rally round and support Akinwunmi Adesina, the embattled president of African Development Bank (AfDB).

Mr Adesina is currently battling 16 allegations of impropriety and fraud levelled against him by a group. He has maintained he is innocent.

The United States is insisting on a further probe despite the clean bill of health given to Mr Adesina by the board of directors of the bank.

The embattled official has said the move to get him out, perhaps at all costs, is linked to his re-election bid and not as a result of any fraudulent action on his part.

Obasanjo rallies support

Reacting to the crisis, Mr Obasanjo, in a letter to former African presidents, said Mr Adesina has taken the bank to a great height since he took the position in the last five years and should not be victimised.

Mr Adesina served as minister of agriculture under Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Obasanjo’s successor in office.

In a letter dated May 26, Mr Obasanjo disclosed that the bank, under Mr Adesina, “has been actively positioned as an effective global institution ranked fourth globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions.”

“As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its board of directors to approve a $10 billion crisis response facility to support African countries,” Mr Obasanjo said. “In addition, the bank successful launched a $53 billion ‘Fight COVID-19’ social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75 per cent interest rate.”

He said the AfDB’s outstanding achievement “made all the heads of state and governments of ECOWAS region to endorse him for second term.”

Jabs at U.S.

Mr Obasanjo said despite the great feat, “the United States Government, through the U.S.Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the chairman of the board of governors of the bank.”

“Instead of accepting the exoneration of the president of the bank, they (U.S.) called for an independent investigation.

Akinwumi Adesina, the President of African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwunmi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AfDB) [Photo: Punchng.com]

“This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and g

overnance systems of the bank. The U.S. Treasury Secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.”

Mr Obasanjo urged his fellow (African) leaders to write a joint statement and “make sure that they follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.”

Mr Obasanjo also kicked against the “introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedures, laws, rules and regulations of the bank.”

“If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa,” Mr Obasanjo added

Read our earlier reports on the crisis here and here.

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