Below is the submission made by the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, in defence of himself over 16 allegations made against him by some whistleblowers who accused him of violating the bank’s code of conduct.
Mr Adesina made the submission to the Ethics Committee of the bank which conducted a preliminary investigation into the allegations.
PREMIUM TIMES had on May 27 published a summary of Mr Adesina’s submission after sighting the document. But here now is the verbatim submission made by the AfDB president, at least for the record. You will most likely find it interesting.
April 8, 2020
To: Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, African Development Bank
From: Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group
Re: Disclosure by an Unidentified Group of Concerned Staff
I understand that the Ethics Committee (the “Committee”) will convene on April 9, 2020, in order to consider the anonymous January 19, 2020 Disclosure of Acts Related to Alleged Breach of the Code of Ethics by an Elected Officer to the attention of the Director of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department (PIAC) and the Chairpersons of the AUFI and Ethics Committees from a Group of Concerned Staff Members (the “Disclosure”).
This memorandum provides the Committee with specific facts that demonstrate that the Disclosure does not meet the standards to qualify as a whistleblower complaint under the terms of the African
Development Bank’s (the “Bank”) Whistle Blowing and Complaints Handling Policy of January 2007 (the “Whistle Blowing Policy”), that it is “frivolous and not based on objective and solid facts” and should be dismissed by the Committee.
The Committee will be meeting to conduct a preliminary examination of the Disclosure to determine pursuant to Article 3 of Board of Governors Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 whether the Disclosure is “based on apparently solid justifications.” See App. 1. If the preliminary examination of the Disclosure “shows that it is frivolous or not based on any objective and solid facts it shall be dismissed.” Alternatively, if the preliminary examination of the Disclosure “reveals facts that are capable of establishing violations of the Code of Conduct,” the Disclosure shall be submitted to the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors for further examination.” If such a referral is made, notwithstanding any preliminary examination by the Committee, the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors, in consultation with other members of the said Bureau, shall have sole competence to finally determine whether or not there exists a reasonable basis for pursuing the matter.
As the Committee undertakes its work, it may want to keep in mind certain Sections of the Bank’s Whistle Blowing Policy. Section 4.2, for example, provides that “complaints should be made in the reasonable belief that what is being reported is true.” Section 4.2 also provides that “concerns expressed anonymously shall be considered at the discretion of the Auditor General [here the Ethics Committee since this is a case that involves allegations against the President of the Bank].
Thus, the Committee is not required to consider every allegation and certainly not allegations that its good sense and judgment suggest are fanciful or illogical or belied by contradictory facts that are easy to establish and confirm. Section 4.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy thus explains that “in the exercise of such discretion, the factors to be considered by the [Ethics Committee] shall include, without limitation, the seriousness of the allegation, its credibility, and the extent to which the allegation can be confirmed or corroborated by attributable sources.” In cases in which attributable sources demonstrate that multiple allegations in the complaint are not true, the Committee can, in fact, disregard the entire anonymous complaint and conclude that the complaint is either frivolous or not based on any objective and solid facts.
The Whistle-Blowing Policy also makes it clear in Sections 6.1 and 6.6.4 that the identity of would-be whistleblowers need not be protected “where a false accusation has been maliciously made” and that “Bank personnel not making allegations in good faith or without reasonable belief that what is being reported is true may be subjected to disciplinary action in keeping with Bank Rules.”
Disciplinary action may also be appropriate when would-be whistleblowers violate the confidentiality of the proceedings initiated by their anonymous complaint. In this regard, it is notable that whistleblowers may only make public disclosure if they have previously reported the same information through the established internal mechanisms and the Bank has failed to inform the whistleblower in writing of the status of the matter within six months of such a report. See Whistle Blowing Policy, section 6.7.2. It seems that in this case, the whistleblowers have disclosed their allegations beyond the Ethics Committee just one month following the Disclosure.
The same may be true of others acting in concert with them. The point about others acting in concert with the whistleblowers is not speculation. A group of independent Bank staff members apparently wrote a “Disassociation Note” on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called “Group of Concerned Staff Members,” namely the whistleblowers behind the Disclosure, but that they had been “manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Bank of Development but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election.” See App. 2.
Certainly, if the Disassociation Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistleblowers’ complaint can not be considered to be in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead, it had another ulterior motive.
The Disclosure is replete with examples of allegations that are frivolous or not based on any objective and solid facts, or of allegations that are actually disproven by objective and solid facts.
Allegation number 9 accuses me of introducing an organizational chart with a Nigeria Country Directorate that stands by itself with a Country Director who reports directly to the VP, claiming that this action violates the Code of Conduct because it represents preferential treatment, unethical conduct and an impediment to efficiency. The decision to open a Nigeria Country Directorate was taken by the Board of Directors under President Kaberuka, my predecessor. See App. 3. Any allegation that I am responsible for this decision is frivolous. I may have circulated Bank organizational charts showing the Directorate as part of periodic updates on the implementation of the Bank’s Development and Business Dealing Model, see App. 4, but I cannot have violated the Code of Ethics for implementing a Board decision taken before I assumed office. Such an allegation bears the quintessential hallmarks of frivolity.
Allegation 10 accuses me of impropriety in connection with my acceptance of the World Food Prize (US$250,000) and the Sunhak Peace Prize (US$500,000). I received these prizes in recognition of a life of accomplishments in the field of agriculture and although they were individual prizes, they brought great credit and prestige to the Bank. Vice President Pence of the United States saluted my selection for the World Food Prize, bestowed in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. See App. 15.
I believe I brought further credit to myself and the Bank by donating these two cash awards for the establishment of the World Hunger Fighters Foundation, a foundation that has garnered contributions from others and now funds the Borlaug Adesina Fellows Fellowship for young African Agribusiness Innovators. See App. 20. The plan to donate the prize money was disclosed to the Board and announced publicly in Iowa and in my Sunhak Peace Prize acceptance speech. See App. 18, page 9; App. 19, para. 40.
Further, Bill Gates tweeted about the donations characterizing the donations as an act of kindness and one of his best moments in 2017. See App. 17. Notwithstanding, the Disclosure paints the receipt of the
prizes as a sinister act that violated the Code of Conduct. Common sense reveals the frivolous and unfounded nature of any such allegation, as well as their bad faith. One minute of checking on the internet could have satisfied the whistleblowers’ curiosity about the destination of the prizes. This allegation smacks of a false accusation maliciously made within the scope of Article 6.1 of the Whistle Blower Policy.
The whistleblowers also attempt to portray the World Food Prize event as a boondoggle for the President, his family and many Bank staff. In fact, the expenses of the ceremony, including musical entertainment (musical groups from Nigeria and the Glee Club from Purdue University (President Adesina’s alma mater) were defrayed by the World Food Prize Foundation; the President’s children and their spouses who attended the events paid for their own travels, not the Bank; and Bank staff attended not because the President was receiving the World Food Prize but because the Bank launched its TAAT initiative at the events, where it garnered global attention and financial commitments from several institutions, including the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA. The dean of the Board of Directors of the Bank Mr Zaghloul, representing the Board of the Bank, also attended and was called upon in that capacity during the ceremony (See App. 16, pp. 17-19).
The allegations against me concerning the TAAT are another example of allegations belied by objective and solid facts demonstrating no violation by me of the Code of Conduct.
The allegations involve both the hiring of Mr Martin Fregene and the management of the program itself.
First, it is alleged that Mr Fregene is my brother-in-law. He is NOT my in-law. And the anonymous complainants present no evidence that he is. This is an example of an occasion on which the Ethics Committee should exercise its discretion under Section 4.2 of the WhistleBlower Policy to ignore an anonymous allegation unsubstantiated by any attributable sources.
Second, Mr Fregene is a world-class geneticist, internationally renowned for his work on plant genetics of cassava, and who worked earlier at CIAT, Colombia, one of the CGIAR centres, and subsequently as Director at the Danforth Plant Science Center (probably the second-largest private agricultural research centres in the United States). He returned from the diaspora to Nigeria to work as Chief Technical Advisor when I was Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. He was hired as a consultant by the Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Ms Jennifer Blake, to support her in the development of the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy. It was a coup for the Bank to attract such a sharp mind and a top-notch professional.
Third, contrary to the allegation of the Disclosure, Dr Martin Fregere was not “appointed as a Director of Agriculture.” He competed in a transparent, global competition that was advertised internationally in which he was eligible to compete. The recruitment process was handled by the globally renowned recruiting firm Russell Reynolds out of London through a process of short-listing and rigorous and independent panel reviews. The results of the interviews were passed on to the President with recommendations from the hiring Vice President. See App. 5. I approved the recommended hire which was entirely within my power to do.
The evaluation of Mr Fregene’s probationary period was also conducted by the same Vice President, Jennifer Blake, and not by me. Ms Blake wrote, “He should absolutely be confirmed. He is an excellent member of the top team.” See App. 5.
The Disclosure insinuates that there was something sinister about the timing of Mr Fregene’s start date. His predecessor had given notice and had the right to a month’s accumulated leave. To ensure continuity in the position, Mr Fregene commenced work when his predecessor was no longer performing the duties of his office.
The Disclosure also alleges that Mr Fregene travels often to the United States to see his family and that this is paid for by the Bank. This allegation is false. Several Bank staff have families outside of Africa and based on staff rules and policy, they find ways to take advantage of their leave days to be with their family when convenient. Further, the President does not sign travel authorizations for any Director or manager of the Bank. This is done by responsible Vice Presidents or Directors per the delegation of authority matrix. See App. 6. (According to Vice President Jennifer Blanke, the Supervising Vice President of Dr Fregene: “Dr Martin Fregene is the Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department in the AHVP Complex, which I oversee. In his leadership role, he has been called upon to carry out a number of missions in the context of the Bank’s work program. As his immediate supervisor, my office always approved the travel of Dr Fregene, and to the best of my knowledge Dr Fregene has
not travelled without permission and outside of leave days.”) The allegations of the whistleblowers are based on pure speculation, not hard facts and demonstrate their falsity and maliciousness by accusing the President of violating the Code of Conduct for approving travel for which he has no approval role.
Allegations on TAAT: TAAT is an initiative of the Bank developed to help take agricultural technologies to the scale of millions of farmers across Africa. It is a revolutionary initiative in that it scales technologies across agro-ecological zones, instead of the old one-country approach based on country borders – in other words, “technologies without borders”. TAAT brings together the world’s leading international agricultural research centres, national and regional agricultural research centres, and food and agribusiness companies along agricultural value chains, to help tens of millions of farmers to get access to available, adaptable agricultural technologies to boost food production and assure quick food security. TAAT is now globally acclaimed as a landmark initiative for transforming agriculture in Africa. Partners for TAAT, along with the Bank, include FAO of the United Nations, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the World Bank and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). TAAT has helped to deliver some 27,000 metric tons of heat-tolerant wheat varieties to Sudan in 12 months, that has helped improve yields by 300% and allowed Sudan to attain now 85% self-sufficiency in wheat. To get a sense of what this volume of seed means: it is equivalent to 282 A380 airplanes lined up on a landing strip.
TAAT helped to tackle the challenge of Fall Armyworms that posed major risks to devastate the entire agriculture of countries in the Southern African region (SADC). Because of TAAT, the Bank supported rapid development and distribution of some 26,000 metric tons of drought-tolerant maize varieties that helped to prevent a food security disaster in the SADC region. TAAT successfully delivered seed coated technology that saved the region from the massive spread of the Fall Armyworms that posed a great threat to food security. These technologies were planted by 2.5 million farmers. Never in the history of agriculture in Africa have such results been achieved in agriculture at this scale in a short period of time. These are the facts.
It appears that staff made some mistakes in the procurement process in their haste to address the looming disaster in a proactive way. This is being investigated by the Bank and no findings have been made yet. The whistleblowers allege that the President when told of the situation on the contract with the supplier, authorized payments, implying that this was improper.
There was no impropriety. The President does not get involved in contractual issues in the Bank, except in cases involving matters that may affect the image, reputation and interests of the Bank. The role of the President is to take decisions that are in the interest of the Bank. In this case, that is exactly what was done. The Auditor-General briefed me on the matter. He was equally briefed by the PIAC Director on the need to launch an investigation into the procurement issues. He authorized that investigation to proceed. However, the supplier or contractor, a global firm (Syngenta, a Swiss firm which is the world’s largest seed company) lodged complaints that the Bank was not fulfilling its contractual obligation to authorize payments for products it supplied to address the Fall Armyworms in SADC region, which was clearly successful and highly lauded by the regional member countries that benefited from the technology. The company sent letters and eventually notified the Bank that it would sue the Bank in court for violating its contractual obligation.
As the President, I directed the Senior Vice President to discuss with all parties involved, and ensure that the right decisions were taken in the full interest of the Bank, to protect the reputation of the Bank and ensure the Bank was not exposed to court cases that would injure the Bank’s reputation and jeopardize its privileges and immunities. That is my role as President and I had full legal and constitutional powers and authority under the Bank’s Articles to take those actions. That the whistleblowers were not privy to internal senior leadership decision making and rationales for such does not make the decision to pay Syngenta a violation of the Code of Ethics. The Senior Vice President, Charles Boamah, during a restricted closed meeting of the Board to discuss TAAT, held in November 2019, explained to the Board the process that he and Management of the Bank went through to make the decision to pay Syngenta. The records of the meeting are there on the automatic audio recordings of the meeting of the Board. The Senior Vice President informed the Board that he called for meetings with the Auditor General, Director of Procurement and the General Counsel to review the situation and the Bank’s risk exposure. He said four issues were considered in arriving at the decision to pay the contractor: whether it was the right product? Whether the product was supplied by the contractor?
Whether the product supplied was effective in dealing with the Fall Armyworms? Whether there was value for money? His response in each and every case was an affirmative YES: it was the right product; the product was delivered by the contractor; the product worked to address the Fall Armyworms based on all field evidences, and there was value for money. See App. 7. Indeed, the Senior Vice President stated that there was absolutely no justification to deny the supplier, Syngenta, its payments. While the Bank will continue its own internal investigations, there was no justification not to pay the supplier under an existing contractual obligation that has to be paid by the external party that is in contractual privity with Syngenta.
Contrary to the allegations of the whistleblowers, I acted transparently, gave the right directives, and tasked Management to review all the facts and make decisions that were in the best interest of the Bank. I stand 100% behind all actions taken in the full interest of the Bank.
Management made the decision to pay the company. And Management’s decision was the right and fair decision. And I am proud of my staff for making the decision in the interest of the Bank, a decision that I support and that flowed from a process that I was fully empowered under the articles of the Bank to establish to authorize the decisions.
The extension of the employment of Kapil Kapoor: In the case of Kapil Kapoor, I was the Chairman of the Heads of Multilateral Development Banks for one year. Under my term and chairmanship, I led the discussions with the Heads of MDBs to focus on how to implement the “billions to trillions” commitment we all made to leverage private capital and other sources of financing to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. The African Development Bank, under my chairmanship of the MDBs Heads, was tasked to help further develop my proposal to the group on how we can work collectively to leverage global institutional investors to invest in infrastructure and other sectors. Kapil Kapoor, who was previously the Director of Strategy and Policies of the Bank, prior to his appointment as the Director-General for Southern Africa, had been leading this work working closely with all sherpas of other MDBs. Kapil was essentially doing this work on top of his regular work as Director-General. He retired from the Bank at the end of August 2019.
There was no one else in the Bank to continue the development of the work and prepare the documents and discuss them at the meeting of the MDB Heads, which I was chairing and for which the Bank had to present the report. In addition, the Bank had committed to and it was endorsed by all Presidents of the MDBs that the work would be used to inform a planned meeting with global institutional investors at the Africa Investment Forum, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November 2019. Kapil Kapoor had the leadership to help organize this. Given the above institutional obligations and commitments of the Bank, Kapil Kapoor’s knowledge and engagement in leading this critical work – which was all part of
the implementation of the G20 work of the Eminent persons group – I gave a waiver for him to be recruited, for a period of 6 months, as a senior advisor to ensure continuity of this work, complete the work, and ensure the Bank’s engagements and global commitments to the MDBs were met. The report was presented to MDB Heads at the October 2019 World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington DC (which I chaired and he supported and staffed me for the meeting) and the report, following discussions with all the MDB Heads was well appreciated and subsequently used to convene with other MDBs the engagement with the global institutional investors at the Africa Investment Forum. See App. 8 and App. 8B. This was all done in the full interest of the Bank and as President, I have the full powers and authority to make such decisions.
Appointment of Mr Emmanuel EZINWA: The whistleblowers alleged that “A Nigerian, Mr EZINWA was found guilty of sexually harassing a colleague during his probation period. On the basis of this misconduct, the HR Director refused to confirm his contract at the end of the probation period. According to our sources, the President requested that Mr EZINWA’s contract be confirmed, which in turn contributed to the resignation of the HR Director, Mrs Frauke HARNISCHFEGER, merely 6 months after she took office. The sexual harassment was left unpunished”. This material is riddled with speculation and falsehoods. There is absolutely no evidence attached by the whistleblowers that any sexual harassment occurred or that I requested that Mr Ezinwa’s contract be confirmed.
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Below are the facts and the truth. First, I do not know Mr EZINWA and have never met him in the Bank. When I received the allegation of the whistleblowers, I had to ask “who is he”? Second, the evidence and documents that I provide below demonstrate the falsehoods of the whistleblowers. The whistleblowers said on the basis of “the staff misconduct the HR Director refused to confirm his contract at the end of the probation period”. The attached Memorandum by Mr David Ssegawa, the Acting Vice President and who was also the HR Director proves the case. The memo submitted to me by the Acting VP and the HR Director (App. 9) is the standard memo I receive for ALL professional staff for their confirmation following a period of probation. The Staff probationary appraisal forms are always attached to this memo.
The President always signs off based on these appraisals, without any exception. The President does not get involved in any staff appraisals except for Vice Presidents and Direct reports. The memo to me from the Acting VP and HR Director (Mr Ssegawa) dated August 1, 2018 states “Mr Ifechukwude Emmanuel EZINWA was appointed as the HR Operations Lead, Human Resources Management Department, on 1st November 2017 and was placed on probation for a period of twelve (12) months in accordance with the Staff Rules and Regulations of the Bank. The relevant staff probationary appraisal form is attached for your review and reference. We seek your approval for the confirmation of Mr Ifechukwude Emmanuel EZINWA as HR Operations Lead, Human Resources Management Department with effect from 31st October 2018.”. The attached Staff Probationary Appraisal Form, duly completed, signed off and submitted by the then HR Director, Mr David Ssegawa, evaluated the staff very well and there was nothing about sexual harassment. The recommendation of the HR Director, Mr. David Ssegawa was to confirm the staff, with the comment “Strongly recommended for confirmation” and signed 1st August 2018. The prepared letter for confirmation of appointment from the HR Director (Mr David Ssegawa) reached my office on August 2, 2018, and I signed off on his confirmation See App. 10. The whistleblowers’ allegation that because of “the staff misconduct the HR Director refused to confirm his contract at the end of the probation period” is clearly false. In fact, it was the HR Director (Mr Ssegawa) who appraised and recommended that the staff be confirmed, with the comment “strongly recommend for confirmation”.
The other part of the allegation that “According to our sources, the President requested that Mr EZINWA’s contract be confirmed, which in turn contributed to the resignation of the HR Director, Mrs Frauke HARNISCHFEGER, merely 6 months after she took office” is also demonstrably false. The whistleblowers alleged that the “HR Director”, Mrs Frauke HARNISCHFEGER resigned because essentially her recommendation “not to confirm the staff” (Mr EZINWA) was rejected or somehow overruled by the President. Yet this cannot be. It should be noted that the HR Director at the time in 2018 was Mr David Ssegawa. Mr Ssegawa, in his capacity as the HR Director, evaluated the staff and recommended the staff, as per the standard procedures of the Bank, to the President. Ms HARNISCHFEGER was NOT the HR Director in 2018. She joined the Bank in 2019, one year after a confirmation recommendation made by the predecessor HR Director. Given this chronology, how could she have resigned based on a recommendation not to confirm the staff she would have supposedly made when she was not even employed at the Bank? How could she have resigned a year before she joined the Bank as HR Director?
It is clear again that the whistleblowers have acted in bad faith. They provided no documentary evidence. The authentic and factual documentary evidence I have provided is the evidence to credit and not the wild speculations of the whistleblowers. These allegations, contrary to the procedures of the Bank on whistleblowing, were made without “information or documentary evidence” and the Disclosure has not been made on the “basis of reliable information and in good faith”.
Mr Monga: the allegation that somehow the former Chief Economist, Mr Monga, departed the Bank with improper payments is false. When staff departs the Bank they have entitlements. And his entitlements are well within what is allowed in the staff rules. The allegation that his departure was arranged as a way of avoiding discussion with the Board on removing the Chief Economist is also false. The President is required to consult with the Board, only for recruiting and releasing a Vice President. The Chief Economist was not dismissed.
Contract non-renewal is not dismissal of staff, so it needs no such consultation with the Board.
Ms Chinelo Anohu: She was recruited through a globally advertised, open and competitive recruitment process. It should be noted that the search process was carried out by a top-notch external recruitment firm, Russell Reynolds of the UK. She was one of two top candidates (both women) recommended to me as President to consider for appointment by the panel. The President is at liberty to appoint based on his own personal interviews of candidates, beyond that of the panel, assessments, and evaluations based on independent references. I am not at liberty to share confidential information on personnel of the Bank, but I can state categorically that the allegations made against her are untrue and defamatory.
Chinelo Anolu is a top-notch and highly respected person who has had a record of impressive achievements. Chinelo Anolu was one of the top two candidates recommended by the interview panel, which was independently constituted and chaired by a Vice President. As President, I always ask for confidential references for anyone being considered for a senior appointment at the Bank. We do extensive background checks. The background checks from current and former bosses, done by Russel Reynolds, showed that the first recommended candidate did not have the managerial experience to handle the role. The external recruitment firm, Russell Reynolds of the UK, flagged in their summary report on Chinelo Anolu, sent confidentially to me (as is done for every single senior position in the Bank), that there was an issue in the newspapers with allegations against her. I immediately called the Director of Russell Reynolds and asked the company to do further confidential due diligence and brief me. From their further confidential background checks and references, they came to the conclusion that there was nothing that would preclude her being recruited as the allegations were nothing more than that: mere allegations.
I perceived them as an attempt to soil the hard work of a woman who had given her best to serve her country with distinction, someone who singlehandedly grew the Nigeria pension fund from $19 billion to $42 billion under her leadership. Such success can lead to jealousy. As a woman, she worked and led in an environment traditionally held as reserved for men and she excelled. I have the greatest respect for Chinelo Anolu’s competence, achievements and doggedness in the face of unjustified attempts to cast aspersions on her exemplary accomplishments.
The recruitment firm spoke to several people who were aware of her work and the allegation and the contexts. They asked for confidential references, which I reviewed. It should be noted that Chinelo Anolu is a globally respected woman. She sits on the Africa advisory board of the London Stock Exchange, the third-largest stock exchange in the world. She also sits on the board of advisors for one of UK’s topmost universities. It would be foolhardy for such global institutions to put her on their boards, without doing their own due diligence. All the confidential references and background checks, including from the London Stock Exchange and the UK University, including senior people in the private sector in Nigeria, all affirmed her integrity, credibility, record of high dedication and achievement. I stand 100% behind her appointment, and Chinelo Anolu is a great asset to the Bank. Her appointment is part of my firm commitment to promote women into senior leadership positions in the Bank. That the whistleblowers do not know about the diligence that was conducted does not mean anything untoward happened. This was all transparent and professionally done with all appropriate due diligence.
On the allegation that Stella Kilonzo, the former Senior Director for AIF, resigned because the President asked her to give a prior consultancy contract to Chinelo Anolu, this is also false. Attached is a letter from Stella Kilozo that affirms that such a thing never happened (App. 11). I also attach an email from her on her desire to leave the Bank due to personal family reasons (App. 12).
Ms Maria Mulindi: She worked with me prior to joining the Bank. She was part of my transition management team as I prepared to take office at the Bank following my election as President and she very ably led all engagements with the Bank with my transition team. All Presidents of the Bank are allowed to bring in and appoint their own Chief of Staff and advisers, to help them to implement their mandate. The position of Chief of Staff is never advertised and the President brings in or appoints his own Chief of Staff. That’s what has been done by all previous Presidents. And that’s what’s done anywhere in the world. When the previous Chief of Staff left the Bank, Maria Mulindi, who was until then a Senior Advisor to the President, ably stepped into the position and was appointed as Chief of Staff. She served admirably well. She was reassigned to the role of Director for Special Duties, based on the evolving nature of needs in the Presidency and in this new role was tasked specifically to lead engagement of the Presidency on civil society. A previous former chief of staff had also been appointed into the position of Director of Special Duties. Maria Mulindi is highly experienced in civil society engagements. Since assuming this role she has helped the Presidency to engage directly with diverse group of civil society, raise the profile of their engagements, earned the trust of civil society and helped to fully engage them directly, which has led to a major turnaround. I am pleased with the trust the civil society now have in engaging the Bank and they have expressed delight that this was the first time in the Bank that the President is engaging directly with the civil society, raising visibility of their engagements in the Bank. The allegation that she was sent to South Africa and that her assignment as Special Duties was to take care of the President’s wife who was sick is baseless speculation. My wife lives in Abidjan, not in South Africa. Have the whistleblowers no shame? Again this allegation stands as an example of the type of allegation that any decisionmaker should ignore because it is not based on any objective and solid facts. These allegations are uncorroborated by attributable sources.
Victor Oladokun: Victor Oladokin is the Director of Communications. We went to university together and have been very close friends since then. There is nothing in the Bank rules that says that being a friend of anyone in the Bank who gets recruited at the Bank is against Bank rules. The Bank rule only prohibits hiring someone that is a direct family member, a wife, husband, son or daughter of a Bank employee. And there is no rule in the Bank that requires staff to declare friends.
The former Director of Communications of the Bank resigned abruptly just 70 days before the Bank’s annual meeting to be held in India in 2017, precipitating a crisis that put the Bank’s Annual Meetings in India at risk. The Vice President of Corporate Services and the Acting Director of Communications, faced with a crisis and aware of the vast experience and expertise of Victor Oladokun, directly engaged him as a consultant to help with the Annual meetings, as per the Delegated Authority of the hiring Vice President and the recruiting Department. (See App. 13 (contract annex signed by Sr. VP, not President Adesina)). Victor Oladokun is a highly accomplished globally respected leader in communications, with well over 30 years of global practice and corporate experience. Neither I as President nor the Office of the President was involved in his recruitment.
Victor Oladokun, who reported to the hiring Vice President and also to the Acting Director for Communications – NOT to the President – delivered an impressive communications plan and results for the Bank that ensured a highly successful annual meeting for the Bank in India, on short notice, saving the Bank from what was about to become a huge reputation risk.
An audit of his engagement as a consultant was conducted by the Auditor General, based on complaints made by the Chair of the Audit Committee, then Mr LeBastard of France. The audit investigation concluded that the recruitment of Victor Oladokun was done within the Bank rules and procedures and that nothing was untoward about it. The report of the Auditor General of the Bank on the audit of this contract, dated December 2017, stated as follows:”3D Global Consult, an international media and communications consultancy firm was single-sourced for three months (February to May 2017) at a cost of USD 326,000. The scope of the procured services include activities that were deemed priorities such as; developing and executing a successful media campaign for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Ahmedabad (India), framing key messages in line with the theme of the Annual Meeting for the President, the Executive team and Secretary-General among others and developing branded digital/TV content for broadcast and social media”
The Auditor General’s report concluded that the single sourcing “complied fully with section 9.7 of the corporate procurement on consultancy (PD02/2012). Additional justification provided for the waiver was the abrupt separation from the Bank of six PCER staff including its Director when preparations for the annual meeting were in top gear”.
*Note: PCER is the Department of Communications and External Affairs. Furthermore, it should be noted that the engagement letter for 3D Global Consult was signed by the Senior Vice President, not the President (App. 13).
Mr Oladokun applied for the open, internationally advertised and competitive recruitment for the position of Director of Communications. The President was not part of the shortlisting committee nor was he part of the independent interview panel. The entire recruitment process was handled by a highly reputable external recruitment firm, Russel Reynolds, based in London, UK. The interview panel, which included senior management staff of the Bank, Russel Reynolds, and was chaired by the Vice President of Corporate Services, unanimously agreed that Victor was the best candidate and had scored the highest among all the candidates. He was unanimously recommended by the panel for employment (App. 14). I approved his appointment as per the transparent and competitive process, run by a globally reputable recruitment firm. All rules and procedures of the Bank were followed. No rules were broken. The whistleblowers insinuate that there was something sinister about the recruitment by saying that it is unclear if Mr Oladokun’s close association with the President was disclosed during the recruitment process. But this insinuation is based entirely on speculation and on the false assumption that friendship is a disqualifying attribute. In any case, the allegation is not backed by any evidence or documents, something that President Adesina has supplied to demonstrate the regularity of the hiring process.
Mr Wembou, Chad Office: the allegation that I allowed the country manager to resign when he was under investigation for corruption is false. The President does not run country offices. They are under a Director-General and overall oversight of a Vice President. It came to my attention during a back-to-office report by the Director-General that the Bank office in Chad was having issues bordering on mismanagement of funds by the Country Manager. Prior to my being elected President of the Bank the Chad office had not been audited for more than seven years. I challenged the Auditor-General why this was the case and directed that an audit mission be launched. The then General Counsel gave me a legal recommendation that the Country Manager’s request to resign was in order, and should be accepted, despite my insistence that he not be allowed to resign. As President, I follow legal advice. Unfortunately, it turned out that the General Counsel gave wrong advice for which I strongly reprimanded her (App. 21) (email to General Counsel of July 15, 2017).
My email reprimand of the General Counsel, dated July 15, 2017, read: “I must let you know I am unhappy with the recommendation you gave me that the former Resident Representative of the Bank in Chad be allowed to proceed on retirement. This turned out to be a wrong recommendation, given the PIAC report, and all that’s being unearthed, on the trails of his corruption and mismanagement of the resources of the Bank in Chad. As the General Counsel, I rely on your legal advice to make my own decisions. That’s why you must always give me the best legal advice. I expect nothing less than top-notch legal reviews and recommendations, as everything must be done to protect the integrity and reputation of the Bank – at all costs and at all times. You must ensure that this does not happen again. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President”. I subsequently directed that the letter of resignation accepted by the Bank be immediately withdrawn and that all legal measures be taken to ensure that the Country Manager be brought to justice for his mismanagement of the Bank’s assets and resources. I directed that Interpol be engaged to seek full interdiction of the staff and ensure justice (App. 22 (email of September 20, 2017)). I directed that the staff be summarily dismissed and that “in this context, the Bank reserves the right to recover from you all the sums wrongly misappropriated and misused, and seek payment of all interests and damages, by all legal means” (Appendix 23 (email of July 22, 2017).
Contrary to all the allegations of the whistleblowers, I acted with full responsibility, based on available information and advice given to me, and when I found out the then General Counsel had given me bad advice, she was reprimanded, which led to the eventual termination of her services as General Counsel of the Bank on January 20, 2018, and her leaving the Bank.
David Ssegawa: He was the HR Director. It is not true that I, as President, allowed him to resign when there was an investigation. There was absolutely no investigation of David Ssegawa when he resigned nor was one contemplated. Audit had raised the issue that there might be a conflict of interest in his award of contracts to a Kenya-based company. Because of rampant rumours that he awarded these contracts fraudulently and that he was indeed the owner of the company to which he awarded the contract, PIAC subsequently conducted an investigation. The report of this investigation was submitted by the PIAC to me on March 24, 2020, two years after David Ssegawa had left the Bank. The investigation concluded that it was untrue that David awarded the contract inappropriately. It also concluded that there was no corruption in the award of the contract. How could the President have, as alleged, accepted his resignation because of an investigation, when the investigation had not been initiated at the time and was not concluded until two years after his resignation? This is another example of the utter illogic of the whistleblowers’ allegations and points toward their bad faith and maliciousness.
Khaled Sherif: the allegation that Vice President Sherif could not have travelled and stayed for long periods in the US without the President’s permission, is incorrect. The President does not monitor or manage time off for staff as that’s done by the Human Resources. The truth is the Vice President had personal medical issues that he had to get attended to (his private life must be respected) that required him to be away for extended periods, as needed, and he travelled with full knowledge of the department of health of the Bank which was monitoring him while away on medical reasons. The President is not the medical doctor of the Bank and does not get involved in medical matters of staff. The personal health of my staff, any staff is my priority and I support every effort to ensure staff are safe and healthy at all times. Those matters are strictly handled by the medical centre and there is full confidentially and protection of privacy.
Political activity, ECOWAS: It is alleged that as President I basically bribed and corrupted the 16 African Heads of State and governments in the ECOWAS region to support my candidacy for re-election. The allegation is apparently based on a speech I gave at an ECOWAS meeting and immediately after my speech the Heads of State endorsed my candidacy. The allegation essentially impugns the integrity, leadership and honesty of 16 African presidents and ECOWAS. This is a fanciful and baseless allegation.
I am proud of my leadership and work in leading our Bank teams, which has helped the Bank to deliver very impressive results in the ECOWAS region (see App. 24, ECOWAS speech delivered). And I am humbled and equally proud that the Heads of State and governments acknowledged my leadership of the Bank. At the Africa Union summit of Heads of State and governments, held in February 2020, the Executive Council of the Union, made up of 55 Ministers of Foreign Affairs unanimously endorsed my candidacy for re-election as President of the Bank. Following the faulty logic of the whistleblowers, one would deduce that I have bribed all 55 African presidents. The allegation demonstrates a demeaning disregard for Africa, Africans and leaders of Africa.
I am humbled that the whole of Africa, without any exception, endorsed me for re-election. That African Presidents appreciate my passion, commitment, and high level of dedication to driving forward Africa’s agenda, as agreed to by the Africa Union and the Heads of State and governments. Their support is based on the results the Bank has achieved. Under my leadership, with support of my staff and the Board, the Bank secured a General Capital Increase of 125%, which raised the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion, an increase of $115 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since establishment in 1964.
The Bank achieved a 32% increase as well for its African Development Fund, which supports its low-income countries and fragile states, a significant achievement praised by the shareholders. Under my leadership, the AAA rating of the Bank has continued to be maintained. The Bank’s income has seen dramatic growth. The Bank was ranked No 1, along with the World Bank, by the MOPAN report, as fit for purpose, among all international organizations assessed. The Bank has strong governance and transparency and was ranked last year as the 4th most transparent institution in the world by Publish What You Fund. Besides these, the results of our work have been impressive as well, based on highly reputable results monitoring and reporting systems at the Bank. In the past four years, we helped to connect 18 million people to electricity, provide access to improved agricultural technologies for 144 million people, provided 13 million people to access to finance, provided 101 million people with access to improved transport and 60 million people with access to improved water and sanitation. I was awarded the African Person of the Year by Forbes, and the African of the Year by the Africa Leadership Magazine in a Continental wide open voting system of over one million people. According to the whistleblowers’ logic, I must have corrupted them all. I am proud of the Bank I lead and its very many loyal and highly dedicated and loyal staff who work very hard every day to make the Bank what it is recognized for today.
Appointment of Charles Lufumpa as Acting Vice President and Chief Economist: The allegations against me are also patently false. My conclusion after careful review of the case of Charles Lufumpa is that the investigations conducted were very faulty and cannot prove the allegations made against him. My review also showed a well-orchestrated effort to make Mr Lufumpa a scapegoat for failures of others to do their job. It became very clear to me that the PIAC investigators and the then General Counsel harboured a presumption of guilt and engaged in a rush to judgment at all costs, through conspiratorial actions.
Now to the facts: The investigation into the allegations against Mr Lufumpa started years before I was elected President. The matters under investigation occurred under the former President of the Bank, Donald Kaberuka, many years before I joined the Bank. To be clear: I do not personally know Mr Lufumpa. From my comprehensive review of the files on this case, which I have reviewed more than ten times, I came to the firm conclusion that Mr Lufumpa was not guilty as charged as the case cannot stand up to scrutiny before the Administrative Tribunal of the Bank. I am not at any liberty to divulge confidential materials on this, but I have fully explained the details of this case and my readings and findings on the matter. I questioned the Acting Director of PIAC (Mr Bubacarr Sankareh) who managed the investigation. When I confronted him with the several logical holes and inconsistencies in the investigation, I asked him the question (in the presence of my then Chief of Staff) “whether he could look me in the face and tell me that Mr Lufumpa was guilty as the PIAC report says?”. He told me “Mr Président, I cannot say that he is guilty”. The same happened with the then General Counsel, Mrs Helene Ngarnim-Ganga. She had given me advice that “I should dismiss Mr Lufumpa” and that there “are a number of non-regional Executive Directors that have wanted him fired and that they would not take it lightly if this was not done”. She also said, “the Bank risks not getting replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF) if this was not done”.
At a point, Ms N’Garnim-Ganga came to inform me that “there were new allegations that Mr Lufumpa had forged Bank chèques and that “if we can prove this we would have ‘got him’”. This she said in the presence of my Chief of Staff, Ms Mulindi. I immediately queried her why she would use such a term as “got him” and that this is now clearly like a witch-hunt.
Nonetheless, I told her to proceed and get me evidence and confirmation that indeed Mr. Lufumpa forged Bank checks. Ms N’Garnim-Ganga disappeared for three months and never came back to give me the evidence she was asked to provide. Following my asking for her to come and brief me, she came to my office and said: “Mr President, I have looked and it turned out that it was a lie”. I asked her that since she was asking me to fire Mr Lufumpa, whether if I did as advised, and he challenged the case at the Administrative Tribunal, what will happen?” She told me “the Bank will lose the case”.
The then General Counsel, Ms N’Garnim- Nganga, in a Memo to me on this issue dated October 2, 2017, stated as follows: “However, while my analysis has found argument supporting a serious case of misconduct, I am still concerned that we only have a case based on circumstantial evidence with NO CLEAR PROOF OF COLLUSION, FRAUD OR CORRUPTION”.
The company that PIAC had alleged was involved in the purported collusion and corruption with Mr Lufumpa, took the case and the Bank to the Bank’s Sanctions Tribunal. The Company won the case at the tribunal and the case brought by the Bank was dismissed. The Bank had to pay a huge penalty. So you have a situation of a very flawed investigation, with too many hidden agendas and inconsistencies and a conspiracy to find Mr Lufumpa guilty at all costs when the evidence just does not add up to reach the required burden of proof. With these inconsistencies and malicious intents, it was obvious to me this was a witch hunt clad in investigation garments. Management cleared Mr Lufumpa of the allegations and wrote him a letter of apology on October 1, 2019 (App. 25).
I briefed the full Board of Directors several times on this matter, including the then Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee in 2016 (Mr Mellouki) and Mr LeBastard who replaced him as Chair of the AUFI.
Most recently when Mr Lufumpa was appointed as Acting Vice President (following his clearance of the allegations), I gave a full briefing on the issue when ED LeBastard asked why Mr Lufumpa, who had been investigated by PIAC, had been appointed. Because the Board now has eleven new members, I had to brief again the Board of Directors. My message has always been the same: I firmly believe that Mr Lufumpa is not guilty and is a victim of witch-hunting through this investigation. The plot was clear: “get him”. I have always been very transparent and consistent. I told the Board of Directors repeatedly that any of the Executive Directors was at liberty to come to my office to review the materials. If any feel, after the reviews, that the situation is different from the one I have provided above, they should challenge me. I stand firmly behind my decision. My conscience is clear.
In summary, every single one of the 16 allegations against me in the Disclosure remains unsubstantiated. I have not violated the Code of Conduct. The Ethics Committee should so find and dismiss the matter.
Akinwumi A. Adesina
President, African Development Bank