So many questions from the community on the issue of the United States rejecting the conclusion of the Ethics Committee on allegations against the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina. Samples: “Why is the United States interested in what is happening in African Development Bank?”, “Wetin concern Trump in Africa’s Bank”, “Can you explain why they should even listen to the United States – this is our bank”.
My general response to save time: The African Development Bank is not just owned by Africans and African countries. We should not be confused because the name has “Africa”. The U.S. became a member of the African Development Fund in 1976 and that of the African Development Bank in 1983. If you go to AfDB, they have nationals from Japan, Europe, etc and most are watching their investments; they call them representatives from their countries.
More so, what the U.S. is doing is simple: fiduciary responsibility of the American taxpayers money. If they invested in this AfDB, they should pay attention to what goes in there.
In 2009, I attended the African Union Congress. There were some activists protesting that Africa should buy out the UK, Japan and U.S. so that the bank could be wholly-African. That time the UK was holding around 14%, Japan 5.4% and U.S. 6.5%. I do expect the shareholding to have changed; Nigeria holds about 9% – the largest of any African country. In that Congress, one man asked the activists to come back with cash to pay off the Europeans, Japanese and Americans!
The United States is one of the Group of seven nations holding 28 per cent investment grade equity in AfDB.
The others include Germany and Japan. About 41 per cent of their Group’s shareholding is held by non-regionals and multilateral development finance institutions.
The AfDB Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).
Largely, this matter is very complicated. Even though the U.S. has a right to protect its investments and asks questions, the issues are very trivial that the basis of U.S. strategic interests cannot be those allegations (read U.S. letter); you can read Adesina’s responses here. These allegations are mundane; the Board can handle them, and communicate to its shareholders. They are not things, in my opinion, for an external counsel to investigate. President Trump does what Mr. Adesina is accused daily in Washington DC! Adesina does not have his daughter and son-in-law working in his office or vacationing in his hotels!
This is my conclusion: the U.S. is asking for a change of leadership in AfDB. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately, Adesina has arrived at the same conclusion himself. And that is the real problem: if the U.S. concludes that a bank is corrupt, it can fine or at extreme cut it out of the financial system until it cleans itself. That is why what the U.S.is saying is more important than what the African leaders (about 50 of them) have to say. Call it an asymmetric power play.