The Board Chairperson of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Niale Kaba has described as untrue, reports that the board asked the bank’s president, Akinwunmi Adesina to step down.
In a statement signed by Ms Kaba, dated May 27, the board chairperson said the board is treating the lingering issue with utmost seriousness.
“On Tuesday, May 26, the office of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group held a meeting to examine the matter arising from a complaint from the board of directors of the bank, and about that which I received from some shareholders expressing different points of view,” the statement said.
“The bureau, which I chair, wishes to assure the public that it is seized with the matter and it is treating it with utmost seriousness which it deserves. Further, the bureau informs the public that it has not taken any decision as falsely conveyed in some publications.
I must emphasise that there is no governance or constitutional crisis at the African Development Bank Group. It is indeed false that the president of the Bank Group has been or is being asked to step down from his position.”
A Bloomberg report Wednesday claimed that the bank’s board may have agreed to an independent probe of Mr Adesina, after the U.S. rejected an internal investigation that cleared him of allegations of favoritism.
Quoting two people familiar with deliberations on the matter, the report said Africa’s largest multilateral lender decided on the inquiry after several governments backed U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin’s criticism of a bank-led examination into the allegations.
Bloomberg added that Mr Adesina may have to step back from the role until the probe is completed. The board, however on Thursday debunked such claims, saying Mr Adesina has not been asked to step back as reported.
In a petition by a group of whistleblowers, Mr Adesina was accused of 20 breaches of the bank’s code of conduct, including “unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities.” The group, which noted their allegations were in line with AfDB’s whistle-blowing policy, said these activities adversely affected the confidence and integrity of the bank.
The bank, however, found the allegations to be “frivolous.” Regardless, the United States government expressed “deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process” and called for a fresh “in-depth investigation of the allegations.”
In a letter dated May 22, 2020 to Ms Kaba, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C., faulted the decision of the committee to totally exonerate Mr Adesina of all allegations, saying it was not yet time to make such a declaration.
Mr Adesina in his response Wednesday maintained that he is innocent of all allegations of fraud levelled against him. He added that he believes a just, transparent and fair process would prove his innocence. “I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and the rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution,” he said.
He also promised to work with other stakeholders of the bank in its drive to fulfil the mandate of transforming and accelerating Africa’s development. On Thursday, the Board of Governors said the bureau must be allowed to carry out its duty and deliver Justice on the matter. “Everyone must allow the Bureau to do it’swork and allow due process to reign. All the Governors will be carried along in resolving the issue,” the statement said.