15 former African Presidents and Prime Ministers have issued a joint statement on the stand of the United States of America over the crisis rocking the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The reaction of the former heads of government came after a letter written to them by Nigeria’s former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo seeking their support for incumbent President of the bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.

The United States of America is seeking to oust Adesina, a Nigerian, from his position as AfDB president, accusing him of financial infractions, which he has vehemently denied.

The former African leaders, led by Obasanjo are of the position that “No nation, regardless of how powerful, has a veto power” over the bank.

In the statement, they stated that “While differences may exist among parties, the best way to address them is to first respect the rules, procedures and governance structures of the Bank. To do otherwise will be tantamount to undermining the Bank and its long and hard earned reputation, and that of its President.”

Apart from Obasanjo, other leaders that signed the letter are Boni Yayi (Benin Republic), Hailemariam Desalegn (Ethiopia), John Kufour (Ghana), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Joyce Banda (Malawi), Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Tandja Mamadou (Niger Republic), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), Mohamed Marzouki (Tunisia) and Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania).

The statement which was endorsed by former Presidents Ameenah Gurib-Fakin (Mauritius), Rupiah Banda (Zambia), Kgalema Motlanthe (South Africa) and Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) which was titled Leadership of the African Development Bank: A Need for Caution,’ stated that Africa is facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 and all hands must be on deck to tackle the pandemic. The African Development Bank (AfDB), under the leadership of its President, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, has been doing a remarkable job in steering the organization.

“The Bank announced a $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries in Africa. The Bank also successfully launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19 social bond, the largest ever US dollar denominated bond in world history. Powered by his vision and leadership, the shareholders of the Bank from 80 countries all approved a general capital increase of $115 billion for the Bank, the largest in its history since establishment in 1964. The Bank has been doing a lot for women, with a $3 billion fund to provide access of finance to women, supported by G7 countries and Africa.

“Across the continent, the Bank’s presence and work have been highly visible and impactful. In less than five years, the Bank’s High 5 agenda has impacted over 333 million people, from access to electricity, food security, access to finance via the private sector, improve transport and access to water and sanitation. The Bank has maintained its stellar AAA rating among all global rating agencies. The shareholders of the Bank have all played very important roles in supporting the Bank to achieve these impressive results.

It would be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in trying to mobilize support for Adesina, had enumerated some of the achievements recorded by Adesina, a former Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture as the President of AfDB. In the four-page letter which he copied 14 former presidents.

In the letter, Obasanjo said that despite the achievements and impressive leadership and passion for Africa’s fast-paced development, some non-regional member countries of AfDB are trying to frustrate Dr Adesina’s reelection and warned that “If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its government would be hijacked away from Africa.”

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