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.
AFCFTA is a powerful tool for Africa’s economic integration – ECA
The pandemic has given African an opportunity to review its poor healthcare infrastructure,
The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Ms Vera Songwe, said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) is a powerful tool to accelerate regional and economic integration in Africa.
The statement was made during a virtual panel by the African Union marking the Africa Integration for the Continental Free Trade Agreement.
She urged that Continental Free Trade Agreement would be Africa’s Marshall plan. Adding that nobody could have predicted the deep effects of the economic crisis on the continent.
“We need to talk about Africa and the AfCFTA. Our Marshall Plan is the AfCFTA. The AfCFTA is our plan, so let us take it and run with it.
“The Marshall Plan for Europe was about 160 per cent of their GDP traded to bring back growth after the war,” she said.
She added that implementation of the AFCFTA, would help the continent have control of its economic future. She added that the UN Economic Commission for Africa forecasts African GDP would decline by 3.2% to -2.8% in 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic.
She stressed the need for a continental financial system integration to implement a mutual system of financial stability for sub-Saharan monetary cooperation, while also urging that Africa builds on progress made from implementing The Afreximbank Exchange Facility.
“We need to ensure that as we build the AfCFTA and trade integration, we begin to build stronger, much more robust monetary and fiscal systems that can ensure that as a continent we actually can work with each other in a more effective way,” Songwe said.
She also urged that the pandemic has given Africa an opportunity to review its poor healthcare infrastructure, citing countries like South Africa, Ethiopia and Morocco developing new healthcare systems.
Songwe was joined on the panel by Mr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD and Mr Benedict Okey Oramah, the President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Mr Wamkele Mene, first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA; Mr Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, Secretary-General COMESA; and Paolo Gomes of AfroChampions.
The panelist jointly agreed that the economic crisis due to COVID-19 was an opportunity for Africa to learn lessons on the needs for Industrial developments by producing its own pharmaceutical industry.
Tax debt payments extended to August 31- FIRS
Tax debtors are to liquidate their outstanding tax liabilities on or before August 31.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced it on Wednesday that it has extended the waiver of penalty and interest window on tax debts owned by businesses and individuals from June 30 to August 31, 2020.
In a statement by the Director Communications and Liaison Department, Mr Abdullahi Ahmad. The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami said the extension is a sequel to palliative measures set up by the FIRS to help businesses and individuals deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
“The latest extension applies to tax audit, tax investigation and desk review assessments, approved installment payment plans under Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme yet to be fully liquidated,” he said.
He added that there would not be any extension after the August 31 due date.
He urged tax debtors to liquidate their outstanding tax liabilities on or before August 31 in order to partake in the waiver of accumulated interests and penalties.
Nami also advised all businesses and individuals who fall under the waivers to contact their nearest FIRS Regional Debt Management Office and tax controllers for further enquiries.
African Union will accelerate industrialization in order to beat COVID-19
AU is planning on improving industrial output through the establishment of the regional value chain.
The African Union says it will accelerate its industrial development drive and improve supply chains needed for Africa’s trade and logistic growth to overcome the pandemic.
In a statement by the chairman of the AU and South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, the AU is planning on improving industrial output through the establishment of a regional value chain with the aid of private sector stakeholders. The statement commemorating Africa Integration Day was co-signed by AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger.
President Ramaphosa added that the African free trade area is the best tool that can help the continent speed up its regional economic integration to battle the effects of the pandemic. He added that the creation of a free trade area is “defragmenting Africa to put behind us the history of small uncompetitive markets that have thwarted our efforts to achieve inclusive sustainable development for the benefit of our people.”
The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement was signed last year and was meant to commence this year in July but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the negotiations for tariff concessions for trade in goods; a date has not yet been announced to resume negotiations.
When fully ratified and operational by 2030, the ACFTA would be the largest free trade area by land area, servicing a potential of 1.2 billion people and with combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Of the 54 nations that have signed the agreement, only 28 have ratified it so far. Nigeria is one of the countries yet to ratify over worries of “dumping”. Internal trade in Africa is just 15% compared to Europe’s 70% and Asia’s 58%. The ACFTA when fully ratified will reduce tariffs on goods by 90% and help promote investment and movement of goods, people and capital in the continent.