The storm in a calabash orchestrated against the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, by the United States is quite in character with America’s bullying tactics.
The tragic irony of America’s self-demystification is that it negates all the other good things that the country may have been doing on the African continent, and it also alerts Africans to beware of the US and its habitual braggadocio.
But first, let’s clear the cobwebs. Akinwumi Adesina is, unarguably, the most successful, independent-minded president of the African Development Bank in its 56 years of existence.
His agenda is pan-African; his interventions commonsensical. He has worked seamlessly with the governments of African nations to design practicable solutions to their problems and encouraged their aspiration for self-sufficiency, especially in agribusiness and infrastructure development.
Apart from making loans and equity investments available for the socio-economic advancement of African countries, the bank under Adesina has been providing technical assistance for development programmes and promoting investment of public and private capital for development. The AfDB also gives special attention to national and multinational projects for regional integration in addition to mobilising financial resources from governments or foreign financial institutions. In a way, the president of AfDB is like Africa’s minister of economic development. Nigeria holds the bank’s largest shares followed by the United States, Egypt and Germany. But the US is not satisfied with being a ranking shareholder — it wants veto power as revealed in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill. Stephen Dowd oversees America’s interests as Executive Director in AFDB. The same man is soon to resume at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to represent US interests and may, as usual, foul the waters. Look out, Europe! America wants to call the shots and, if that is not possible, destabilise the AfDB, discredit its leadership and engineer a low rating by the credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch Group with the ultimate aim of destroying the institution.
Matters are not helped by the fact that Francophone countries in Africa are largely controlled by France and are vulnerable to divide-and-rule tactics. From the moment he was sworn in, Adesina has been his own man. He is more of a technocrat than a politician, so he doesn’t play politics the way the Americans want — for example, by parroting the US rhetorics against China’s presence in Africa. Adesina rather views the issue differently:
“Do not be overly concerned about China’s presence in Africa economically. Be more concerned about America’s absence.” Wise words, if you ask me! His big dream for the continent informed his spearheading the increase of the Bank’s shareholder general capital from $93 billion to $208 billion in spite of initial strong American opposition.