BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina was on Thursday re-elected President of the African Development Bank for a second term of five years.
The election which took place electronically at the 2020 AfDB virtual Annual General Meeting which commenced on Wednesday, put to an end the tortuous battle for a second term for Adesina.
At the commencement of the virtual AGM, Adesina made a strong case for his re-election as head of the AfDB, saying that his first five-year term as head of the Bank was marked by the implementation of five strategic priorities for the continent’s development, known as the “High 5s.”
Adesina said; “Five years ago, right here in Abidjan, you elected me president of the African Development Bank. It was a huge responsibility to shoulder. I promised that I would work tirelessly to accelerate Africa’s development. My vision, focused on the High 5 priorities, was my commitment, my promise, my compass”.
“Time has passed so quickly. 18 million additional people now have access to electricity, 141 million people have received more advanced agricultural technology to improve food security, 15 million people have access to financing, 101 million now have access to improved transport, and 60 million people have gained access to water and sanitation.
“Dear Governors, these Annual Meetings are my opportunity to offer you my services and seek a second term as President of the African Development Bank. I do so with humility. I do so with an acute sense of duty and commitment. I do so to serve Africa and our Bank”.
He continued; “I do it to serve Africa and our bank, in an unbiased way, to the best of the abilities that God has given me,” Adesina enthused in a statement issued by the AfDB.
Adesina, who was the sole contender for the position, therefore urged the Board of Governors to renew their trust in him for another five years.
In the spirit of African brotherhood, Nigeria, the Africa Union, and some powerful individuals stood by Adesin, who experienced some turbulence following allegations of fraud leveled against him mainly by non-regional members of the AfDB.
Significantly, the African Union (AU) adopted him as its only candidate for the post with a heavy support from the Nigerian government.
In July 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari sent an envoy, Mustapha Chike-Obi, to lobby the American government, being the main kingpin of the apposition against Adesina’s re-election bid. This was just as former President Olusegun Obasanjo also mobilized about 14 former Heads of State in support of Adesina’s election.
AfDB under Adesina based on available record, showed a significant progress within the last five years. For instance, in October 2019, the bank secured $115 billion (105 billion euros) in funding pledges, which doubled its capital and led to its triple-A credit rating.
The AfDB said the continent could lose as much as $173.1 billion in GDP in 2020 and $236.7 billion in 2021 due to the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis but to mitigate the possible impact of the pandemic, the bank set up a coronavirus funding mechanism in April 2020 of up to $10 billion.
Adesina announced that AfDB’s now has a membership of 81 with the admission of Ireland, saying that 54 of the shareholders are African, while the others are from the Americas, Asia, and Europe.