These are trying times for Dr Akinwumi Adesina, incumbent President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). As the embattled President of the Bank struggles to wriggle out of trouble following allegations of impropriety against him, coupled with the United States’ insistence on a fresh probe, there are indications that more of his alleged misdeeds are being brought under scrutiny.
Sources at the Bank disclosed that apart from the 16 allegations contained in a petition brought before its Ethics Committee, the United States and four other non-regional member-countries of the pan-African institution are opposed to Adesina’s re-election bid based on his alleged dictatorial tendencies. The other non-regional member-countries which have aligned with the United States in this onslaught against Adesina are Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. According to the source, there are concerns over the manner the AfDB President unilaterally introduced the much-hyped High 5s. The High 5s is the philosophy around which the Bank has prioritised operations since Adesina took reins of leadership.
The non-regional member-countries of the Bank feel slighted that the High 5s were neither debated nor adopted by the Bank board before its implementation by the Adesina-led management.
It was further gathered that critics of the High 5s targets (Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa, Integrate and Improve the quality of life of Africa and Africans) are worried that though catchy, they seem not to be fully in sync with the institution’s 10-year strategic vision launched in 2013.
The 10-year vision (2013-2022) calls for sustaining inclusive growth and development through emphasis on geography, gender and fragile states as well as ensuring sustainable management of natural resources. The strategy identifies five main channels through which sustainable growth will be delivered to include: infrastructure development, regional economic integration, private sector development, governance and accountability, as well as skills and technology. It calls for the Bank to leverage its own resources towards mobilising other resources by engaging in public-private partnerships.
The problem with the High 5s seems to be that it is not anchored on a solid foundation. “This is an attempt by one man to impose an agenda without the initial buy-in of vital stakeholders,” enthused an Executive Director, who craved anonymity. He also criticised the High 5s for not making accountability and governance a priority as enshrined in the 10-year strategy. “Throwing resources at problems does not necessarily yield result in ethically challenged systems and environment. Without governance and accountability, we will get nowhere,” the aggrieved Executive Director says.
Besides, another Executive Director of the Bank noted that nearly five years after Adesina adopted the High 5s as the philosophy around which the AfDB prioritised operations; Africa has not made significant progress on any of its five-point strategy. According to him, under Adesina’s watch, critical areas such as electricity, agriculture, and industrialization on the continent have continued to worsen by the day. “The quality of life of Africans has continued to deteriorate so much so that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, now has the dubious distinction of having overtaken India as home of the highest number of extremely poor. So, how have the so-called High 5s impacted on the continent?,” he asked.
As the crisis at the Bank escalates, employees, consultants and government officials in Africa, wonder how this impasse will end.