By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Dike Onwuamaeze
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, got his path to a second term of office smoothened yesterday as the independent panel instituted to review his clearance of alleged corrupt practices by the bank’s Ethics Committee affirmed his innocence.
The panel’s report, which became public, early yesterday morning, received an instant endorsement from President Muhammadu Buhari, who said it was an affirmation of the integrity of Nigeria’s candidate for the headship of the continental development agency.
A petition by anonymous staff of the bank had earlier in the year accused Adesina of corrupt practices in a clear move to block his second term aspiration. He is the sole contestant in the presidential poll scheduled for May, which now holds in August.
He was, however, cleared of all allegations by the bank’s Ethics Committee. But the United States, a shareholder in the bank, expressed reservations about the outcome of the committee and requested for a review by an independent panel.
Although the American request was outside the processes of the bank, the board felt it was necessary to carry along all shareholders. It, therefore, instituted the independent panel, which eventually affirmed the Ethics Committee’s clean bill of health issued to Adesina.
Buhari was excited by this development yesterday, describing the clean bill of health as a further affirmation of Adesina’s competence and integrity to lead the institution.
The president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari also congratulated AfDB Board of Directors, the Ethics Committee and members of staff for their courage, maturity, and patience during the process of investigations, and acceptance of “Report of Panel of High-Level Independent Experts, which reviewed the Report of Ethics Committee of AfDB, and Dr. Adesina’s response.”
The president also hailed Ms. Mary Robinson, Justice Hassan Jallow and Mr. Leonard McCarthy, whom he described as the eminent personalities who handled the review of the report of the Ethics Committee.
He also applauded their sense of professionalism by rejecting support services, and rather proceeding to provide a unanimous report.
According to Buhari, with the conclusion of the review of the investigative report and its output, distractions caused by the allegations for the entire institution for a notable period must now be put behind the bank.
However, he was swift to add that the development should serve as a recipe for a more diligent handling of the bank’s responsibilities.