African Development Bank president Dr Akinwumi Adesina's hopes of securing a second term hang in the balance after the United States government demanded an independent probe into his conduct.
Although Dr Adesina seemed certain to secure another five-year term at the helm of Africa's foremost development finance institution after receiving endorsement from African heads of state, the decision by the US Treasury is a major road-block.
The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter addressed to the bank’s board chairwoman Niale Kaba, has rejected the findings of an internal investigation that exonerated Dr Adesina against accusations of multiple abuses and breaches of the bank's code of ethics.
In the letter dated May 22, seen by news agency Bloomberg, Mr Mnuchin said the US Treasury disagrees with findings of the bank’s ethics committee that “totally exonerated” Dr Adesina against accusations of breaching the bank’s code of con-duct, unethical conduct, private gain, impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, adversely affecting confidence in the integrity of the bank and involvement in political activity.
The US is AfDB’s second largest shareholder after Nigeria with a 6.5 per cent stake, giving it significant voting powers. Nigeria is the biggest shareholder with 9.2 per cent and has been at the forefront of pushing for Dr Adesina’s reelection with endorsements from among others South Africa that controls a 4.8 per cent stake.
“Considering the scope and seriousness of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure the AfDB's president has broad support, confidence and clear mandate from shareholders,” said Mr Mnuchin.
In the wake of the US push, Dr Adesina continues to maintain his innocence against what he terms as "trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn his honour and integrity.
The AfDB is slated to hold its annual meeting of governors in September in Abidjan after it was postponed from its initial date of May due to the Covid-19 pandemic.