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In fresh assault on top African CEOs, Trump turns gaze on Adesina

African finance ministers who form the bulk of the board of governors of the African development bank, AfDB have been thrown an unusual challenge by the US government which is seeking a rejection of the report of the ethics committee that investigated and cleared the institution’s Nigerian head, Akinwumi Adesina.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a two-page letter dated May 22 and seen by BusinessDay, asked the continent’s biggest multilateral lender to set aside its ethics committee report exonerating Adesina from accusations by an anonymous group within the AfDB claiming favouritism in Nigerian appointments and waste of the bank’s resources.
The US executive director of the bank, Steven Dowd, a business executive without prior development finance experience, has since been fingered as being the one pushing the claims of favouritism against Adesina.
This latest call from the US, AfDB’s biggest non-African shareholder, comes ahead of Adesina’s re-election bid in August.
Will the finance ministers set precedence by allowing the US to denigrate the bank’s own ethics committee and its governance process or risk a tiff with the Trump-led US administration which recently threatened to withdraw funding from the WHO at the time of an unprecedented global health crisis.
“We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process,” Mnuchin said in the letter to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the bank’s board of governors, “Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.
“Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the AfDB’s president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders,” Mnuchin added.
 Some critics link the turn of events with US President Donald Trump’s legendary disdain for Africa and demonstrated in his slamming of Tedros Adhanom, the African director-general of the World Health Organisation just weeks ago.

“For Adesina to have been cleared, I want to trust the judgment of the ethics committee,” said Chinedu Ayogu, a researcher at the Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. “The interference of US shows their neo-colonialist stance; they have love to dictate the pace of Africa’s progress economically, politically and in other ways.”
Chinedu said US faulting AfDB’s ethic committees’ finding was uncalled for and suggests that the US believes the committee is biased.
“It is possible the US has a candidate (to replace Adesina) in mind,” the political research analyst said.
 In February, World Bank President David Malpass, who had previously served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs for the United States, criticized Adesina’s AfDB for approving loans too quickly thereby worsening Africa’s debt situation.
 Moussa Faki, the African Union Commission chairperson, described Trump’s hammer on WHO as “a campaign by the US government against the WHO’s global leadership.” African leaders including Nigeria has stood behind the Ethiopian DG of WHO.
 Comments from African Presidents suggest an awareness of a subtle attack on Africa- imagined or not.
 “Under the stewardship of Dr Tedros, the WHO has shown itself to be a true flag-bearer of multilateralism when global solidarity has become critical,” said President Hage Geingob of Namibia.
 His Rwandan counterpart President Paul Kagame of Rwanda questioned Trump’s tirade, saying, “Is it Dr Tedros, WHO, China…under attack or all of them together?… Save us too much politics Africa does not need it. Who does?”
 Arunma Oteh,, who served as Vice President in charge of treasury at the world bank and worked at the AfDB for years speaking via twitter on Monday, called Adesina “a man of integrity and a great leader. He remains the best man to lead Africa’s great institution for the next five years.”
Adesina is the only candidate for the August election and the letter by the US Treasury secretary may have been timed to spoil the atmosphere ahead of the leadership contest.
The U.S. with a stake of 6.5% in AfDB, comes behind the biggest shareholder, Nigeria which has largely refrained from throwing its weight around at the organization
SOURCE BUSINESS DAY
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