SENSE OR NONSENSE

The past few months have seen a lot of significant events occur globally – the Yemeni crisis, the reiteration that black lives matter and the continued spread of Ms ‘Rona. Now whilst most countries are focusing their efforts on managing the latter two, the United States was still able to find time to insist on further investigations into the president of the African Development Bank, Mr Adesina. Someone help me please understand, is this sense or nonsense?

It all started back in January 2020 when some concerned staff members sent a 16-page report to the bank’s anti-corruption department and ethics committee alleging that the president ignored banking procedures, appointed old friends, awarded contracts without due process and a number of other governance breaches.

An internal investigation was launched, which cleared the President, but the United States, the 2nd largest shareholder, was not content with this and ‘expressed deep reservations about the integrity of the internal inquiry’. Some people think that this was a targeted effort by the US against the President who has had a fairly good run and has been proactive in improving the agricultural sector in Africa.

I mean think about it – the President of the United States appointed his daughter and son-in-law (with no political experience) as political advisors but this same administration has an issue with Mr Adesina appointing Nigerians and awarding them contracts, even after he had been cleared internally? 

So, how did the US even get involved in a bank whose aim is to spur economic and social development in its 54 regional member nations? The bank was established in 1964 but opened up to non-African countries (26 to date) in 1982. No doubt there would have been concerns about a new type of imperialism when this happened but it was also a strategic move. According to the bank’s website, admission of non-regional members gave the AfDB additional means that enabled it to be able to contribute to the economic and social development of its regional (i.e African) member countries through low-interest loans. With a larger membership, the institution was endowed with greater expertise, the credibility of its partners and access to markets in its non-regional member countries.  The main source of income for the bank is the subscription purchased by member nations and with the non-regional members paying in and technically not withdrawing any funds, I can see the appeal. In addition to these, the AfDB enjoys an AAA credit rating on the callable capital pledged by the rich, non-borrowing, non-African countries. The highest credit rating held by an African country is BBB- so the benefits of granting membership to Western countries are evident.

On the other hand, inclusion of non-regional members is still seen by some as a Western plot against Africa’s self-sufficiency, and who can blame them? After all, why would countries that not only colonised African countries but also wanted to extend their reach (think Charles de Gaulle’s support of Biafra) want to selflessly support the progress of the African continent? The answer is that it is not selfless – these countries own shares and have voting rights at the bank; effectively handing them a stake in African affairs. In fact, of the 20 largest countries by voting powers, just a little over 50% are African countries. As most of our Heads of State were involved in efforts to gain independence and economic sovereignty, one wonders if there wasn’t another way to reap the benefits of having the West’s support without having them as shareholders. The recent US’ involvement will no doubt bring this concern to the forefront of the minds of people familiar with the bank/case. However, as much as we wish that the AfDB was a bank ‘of Africans and for Africans’, it is clear that we need assistance from non-African countries to carry out the it’s objectives. What is concerning is the financial strategy of African governments. The bank is heavily reliant on this callable capital so what are our leaders doing to reduce this reliance? As previously stated, our mumu never do.

Perhaps the US is aware of the extent of our reliance and flexing their muscles, or they are testing the extent of their power, or they had a genuine concern about the allegations raised and the results of the investigation. Only they know. Subsequently, Mr Adesina has been cleared AGAIN by their external investigator and is free to run for a second term in August 2020.

Disclaimer (to the secret agents combing the inter-web) – Please, I am not anti-US. I am only asking questions so it would be lovely if you don’t use any of the questions raised against me when I apply for a US visa. In the event that the above statement does not matter to you, please note that someone is probably using my IP address, so kindly do not penalise the owner of this IP address. Remain blessed and thank you.

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