The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina has denied allegations made against him by a group of whistleblowers describing them as frivolous and not based on objective and solid facts.
This was contained in his response dated April 8, 2020, to the bank’s ethics committee on the allegations against him.
Nairametrics had reported the probe of the activities of Adesina, some allegations from a group of whistleblowers. Here are his responses to some of the allegations.
On the appointment of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu. Adesina explained that she was recruited through a globally advertised, open and competitive recruitment process that was carried out by a top-notch external recruitment firm, Russell Reynolds of the UK. He disclosed that she was one of two top candidates that were recommended to him for consideration by the panel and so the allegations of single-handedly appointing her is not true.
On the appointment and promotions of Martin Fregene, the AfDB boss pointed out that he is not his brother-in-law. He said Fregene was hired as a consultant by the Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blake, to support her in the development of the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy. He admitted approving the recommended hire which was entirely within his power to do.
On the mismanagement of the TAAT programme, he said that he did not violate the Code of Conduct. In his words, ‘’Although some staff made some mistakes in the procurement process, this is being investigated by the Bank and no findings have been made yet. There was no impropriety. The president does not get involved in contractual issues in the Bank, except in cases involving matters that may affect the image, reputation, and interests of the Bank’’.
On the appointment and promotion of Mrs Maria Mulundi. Adesina said that she worked with him prior to joining the Bank. Going further he said, ‘’She was part of my transition management team as I prepared to take office at the bank following my election as President, and she very ably led all engagements with the Bank with my transition team. All Presidents of the Bank are allowed to bring in and appoint their own Chief of Staff and advisers, to help them to implement their mandate’’.
On the contracting and appointment of Victor Oladokun, Adesina pointed out that they went to the university together and have been very close friends since then. He said that there is nothing in the Bank rules that says that being a friend of anyone in the Bank who gets recruited at the bank is against Bank rules.
On the allegation that a Nigerian, Mr Ezinwa was found guilty of sexually harassing a colleague during his probation period; and despite his misconduct, I requested that his contract be confirmed, thus forcing the HR Director, Mrs Frauke Harnischfeger to resign is false. He said,
‘’The truth is that I do not know Mr. Ezinwa and have never met him in the Bank. The President does not get involved in any staff appraisals except for Vice Presidents and direct reports. The then HR Director, Mr. David Ssegawa, evaluated the staff and there was nothing about sexual harassment. Mrs Frauke Harnischfeger was not the HR Director in 2018. The HR Director in 2018 was Mr David Ssegawa, who evaluated the staff and recommended the staff, as per the standard procedures of the Bank, to the President. Ms Harnischfeger joined the Bank in 2019, one year after a confirmation recommendation made by the predecessor HR Director’’.
On the allegation of preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians, the AfDB President said that he did not introduce an organizational chart with a Nigeria Country Directorate. He said that decision was taken by the Board of Directors under the leadership of his predecessor, Donald Kaberuka.
Adesina said that the allegation on settlements for staff separations and that somehow the former Chief Economist, Mr. Celestine Monga, departed the Bank with improper payments is false. He disclosed that the Chief Economist was not dismissed while pointing out that contract non-renewal is not the dismissal of staff.
On the allegation of awards received by the President and costs borne by the Bank, Adesina said that although they were individual prizes, they brought great credit and prestige to the AfDB. He said that he brought further credit to himself and the Bank by donating these two cash awards for the establishment of the World Hunger Fighters Foundation and the Borlaug Adesina Fellows Fellowship for young African Agribusiness Innovators. He also disclosed that the expenses of the World Food Prize event, including musical entertainment (musical groups from Nigeria and the Glee Club from Purdue University (my alma mater) were defrayed by the World Food Prize Foundation.
On the resignation of Mr David Ssegawa, the HR Director, Adesina denied that he allowed him to resign when there was an investigation against him. He said there was absolutely no investigation of David Ssegawa when he resigned, nor was one contemplated.
On the allegation of political lobbying and bribing of Heads of State to support his re-election, Adesina pointed out that the allegation essentially impugns the integrity, leadership and honesty of 16 African presidents and ECOWAS. He described the allegation as fanciful and baseless.