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Buhari throws weight behind Akinwunmi Adesina’s re-election bid as AfDB president

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday assured Akinwumi Adesina, embattled President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) of Nigeria’s  support  in his bid to get re-elected as the president of the bank.

“Nigeria stands solidly behind Akinwunmi Adesina in his re-election bid as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB),” President Buhari said after receiving the AfDB president who was on a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He further assured that “We will work with all leaders, and stakeholders in AfDB, to ensure that he is re-elected, on the strength of his achievements during this first term.” 

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who disclosed this in a statement on behalf of President Buhari noted that his support has no shades of political affiliations.

“In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position. I didn’t say because you were a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Minister, and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC), so I would withhold my support,” he quoted the president as said.

“I’ll remain consistent with you because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria.”

Adesina’s re-election bid is currently being threatened by the United States of America’s request for an independent probe into whistleblower allegations levelled against him.

He was accused by unnamed whistleblowers of using the bank’s resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge undeserved severance packages to staff who resigned in unusual circumstances and favouring Nigerians.

The ethics committee of the bank’s board of governors has absolved Adesina of the charges but the US rejected the initial inquiry that cleared him and is seeking for an independent probe.

Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, said the 20 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank”.

“My defence ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned. The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations.

“That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched. I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion,” he said.

Aside from 54 African countries, the US is one of the 27 non-regional members of the AfDB and its second-largest shareholder with 6.5 per cent.

Nigeria is the largest shareholder of the AfDB with 9.1 per cent, followed by the US with 6.5 per cent, Egypt at 5.5 per cent, Japan has a stake of 5.4 per cent, and South Africa at 4.9 per cent makes the top five major shareholders of the bank.

Adesina emphasised that the motive of the independent probe was to slander his name and the bank to disqualify him from seeking re-election despite endorsements from the African Union, AU, as he thanked President Buhari.

“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election”, he disclosed.

After meeting with President Buhari, the AfDB president expressed gratitude to the Nigerian leader.

” Thank you very much Your Excellency President@MBuhari  for your unflinching support. I am delighted, humbled and greatly encouraged that the nation, under your leadership, stands solidly with me. I am extremely grateful Sir,” Adesina wrote on his Twitter page.

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