The Travails of Akinwumi Adesina
After rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly terrible mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask’ was one of Obafemi Awolowo’s memorable, quotations.
Life is full of labyrinths, challenges and exciting moments but however deep the sun shines, there is always a little glimpse of dark spots.
Adesina’s chequered life, certainly could not be different from life’s, alloyed fundamental principles.
There is however, no gain saying the fact, that Akin Adesina has a sweet destiny, and a date with history.
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A brief chronicle of his life, tells the story. Akin was born to a Nigerian farmer, in Ibadan, Oyo State on the 6th of February, 1960, attended a village primary school, and also attended Baptist High School Ejigbo, Osun State, after which, he attended the great University of Ife. He graduated from the department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, with a first class honours in 1981. In the history of the faculty, established on the 22nd of September, 1962, he was the first student of the faculty, to be awarded this distinction.
The University of Ife, established by an Act of Parliament of the Western Region in 1961, under the premiership of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, admitted its first set of 244 students in September, 1962, with 5 faculties, of which Agriculture faculty, was one.
The University took off at the current site of the North Campus of the Ibadan Polytechnic, that was then known as the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology with Professor Oladele Ajose as its first Vice chancellor.
In 1967, the University moved to its permanent site in Ile Ife on the 130,000 Acres of land donated by the people of Ile-Ife and the Ooni of Ife – Oba Titus Martins Tadeniawo Adesoji Aderemi, then Governor of the Western Region.
The Ife Campus, adjudged as the most beautiful campus in Africa, designed by the Israeli Architect – Arieh Sharon together with a team of Nigerian Architects, including Lagos based Architect- A. A Egbor, between the 1960s and 1980s, gave Ife the beauty, the elegance and the picturesque sceneries, that made the University a great haven for learning and culture.
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This was the University that trained Akin Adesina, from where he graduated at an early age of 21 years.
Interestingly, the vice chancellor of the University that moved the University to the Ile-Ife campus in 1967, Professor Hezekiah Adedumola Oluwafemi Oluwasanmi, and was its Vice Chancellor until 1975, was also a Professor of Agricultural economics and made the faculty of Agriculture, Ile-Ife where he also taught, a great citadel of Agricultural Research and Training. He attracted a lot of resourceful Professors to the Faculty of Agriculture.
Hezekiah Oluwasanmi,was succeeded by another great Development Economist -Prof Ojetunji Aboyade,between 1975 and 1978. Aboyade, who was Vice Chancellor, against his personal wish and desire, having heard of his appointment, on the radio, on his way to Ibadan, from Lagos, taught Economics.
Throughout his tenure as Vice Chancellor, he was always seen, moving from one class to the other, teaching, in his impeccable suit and bow tie. He was Adesina’s teacher. Akin must have, probably, borrowed his dress sense from Ojetunji Aboyade.
Akin Adesina proceeded to the Purdue University, in Indiana, United States of America for further studies and obtained his Ph. D in Agricultural Economics at the age of 28 years, in 1988.
In 1984, he had returned briefly to Nigeria to get married to Grace and begat, miserly, two children- Rotimi and Segun.
At the age of 24, when he got married, some of his contemporaries, were still enjoying the boisterousness of a youthful age. Back in Indiana, with his wife, he cofounded a Christian Fellowship group with another couple.
In Purdue University, he won the Outstanding PhD thesis for his research work. Between 1990 and 1995, Akin, served as a senior economist at West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Bouake, Ivory Coast.
He also worked at the Rockefeller foundation, since winning a fellowship from the foundation, as a senior scientist.
From 1999 to 2003, Akin was the representative for the Southern African Area. He was also between 2003 to 2008 an associate director, for food security.
A golden fish has no hiding place. Adesina became the Nigerian Agricultural Minister, between 2010 and 2015 and was named Forbes African Man of the Year for his reform of Nigerian Agriculture.
He introduced some spectacular innovations that brought transparency to the Agribusiness, and supply chain; and made the Ministry, farmer friendly. He was almost extinguishing his term as the Nigerian Agriculture Minister, when on the 28th of May 2015, he was elected the President of the African development bank (AfDB) and began his tenure in Office on the 1st of September 2015. The tenure would extinguish in August 2020.
In September 2016, Adesina was appointed by the United Nations’ Secretary General- Ban Ki-moon as a member of the lead group of the scaling up nutrition movement and was also in 2017, awarded the 2017 world food price.
These intimidating credentials are certainly enough to make his life and career, enviable. The African Development Bank was founded in 1964, with a major mandate to fight poverty and to improve living conditions on the African continent, through the promotion of investment in public and private capital projects and programmes, that are beneficial to the African Continent.
Although, originally meant for African countries, but, non African Countries were allowed to join the board.
The largest shareholder of the bank is Nigeria, with 8.2% and following it, is the United States of America with 6.6% .
All member countries have representatives on the Governing Board.
Despite Nigeria’s strength, Akin Adesina became the first Nigerian, to occupy the position of President of the African Development Bank, and the 8th elected President.
In the share structure of the Board, African Nations control 60% while non African Nations, control 40%
Former Nigerian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari as if a star gazer, fought against the inclusion of non African nations, in the share holding structure of the AfDB and predicted, that the AfDB, may one day, be thrown into the belly of the imperialist nations.
The reality of the prediction in 1982 by President Shehu Shagari, has now dawned on us, following the unopposed bid of Dr. Akin Adesina to be elected as President, for the 2nd term of office, that would commence on the 1st of September 2020 and the power plays, subterfuges, manipulations, that even bothers, on outright gangsterism, to prevent Adesina’s second term bid.
As a build up to the power play and in an attempt to prevent the 2nd term tenure of Adesina; on the 19th of January, 2020, a group within the bank, constituted itself as whistle-blowers and petitioned the committee headed by Takum Yano- the institution’s Japanese Executive Director, to demand investigations into 16 allegations against Dr. Adesina.
It alleged breaches of the code of conduct of elected officers of the Bank by Dr. Adesina. On February 7, the committee, formally, dispatched a copy of the Petition to Adesina and demanded his response.
On February 10 and March 10 respectively, having responded to these petitions through his legal counsel, the committee refused legal representation, but rather, asked Adesina, to personally respond.
On the 8th of April, Adesina sent a 260 page memorandum, that highlighted his responses to all the allegations.
He said the Petition was nebulous, malicious, and made mala fide.
A splinter group of the petitioners, had said, they were being manipulated by a group of non regional executive directors, especially, Mr. Steven Dowd, the US nominee of the Board, to discredit Adesina’s candidacy for re-election.
Mr. Dowd represents the United States at the Bank. Interestingly, Mr. Steven Dowd is also a personal friend of the President of the world bank-Mr. David Malpass, whose views are certainly not in sync with Adesina’s African development agenda.
Their allegations, were certainly, a truck load of bunkum, according to Akin Adesina’s response.
For example, in the allegations, a Nigerian – Mr. Ezeonwa was allegedly found guilty of sexually harassing a colleague, and this “sin” was visited on Adesina as part of the charges.
The allegations also queried how Victor Oladokun a colleague of Adesina at the University of Ife, found his way to the African Development Bank.
Adesina had said that the purpose for the allegations were not to report fraud or corruption, but an orchestrated ploy by America, to demolish Adesina and prevent his second term in office.
The committee that investigated the allegations, found Adesina, not guilty of all the allegations.
America was not pleased with the outcome of this investigation and instead asked for an independent investigation, as against the Rules of the Bank.
The AfDB is the key institution in the continent for trade and investment. To Steven Dowd, China is out pacing the US in investing in Africa, and that this must be curtailed, by the United States.
The U.S President Donald Trump and the U. S Treasury secretary Steven Munchin are ready allies in these operations to demolish Adesina and also prevent China’s further incursion, into Africa’s development strides.
To the U. S, China is a relentless adversary, that has captured a vast territory of Africa in cheap loans. But Adesina said-, “if China is present in Africa, why is the U.S. absent?”
President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former President and statesman, has alerted his fellows in the comity of Africa’s ex presidents, to stand up and defend Adesina against subterranean influences and control of the AfDB. He said- “if we do not rise up and defend the AfDB, this might mean the end of the bank as the governance will be high jacked away from Africa”.
The allure of Africa, is certainly it’s natural resources and it’s 1.3 trillion dollars purchasing power. President Mohammedu Buhari, at a recent meeting with the AFDB President Akinwunmi Adesina at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the 2nd of June, 2020, promised support for Adesina.
The President, in his statement further said-“Nigeria stands solidly behind Akinwunmi Adesina in his re-election bid, as the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). We would work with all the leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that he is re-elected on the strength of his achievements during his term.”
He further said- “In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position, I didn’t say because you were a PDP Minister and I belonged to the APC, so I would withhold my support “
President Muhammadu Buhari has said it all. Wishing this great man of the world Akinwunmi Adesina a successful re-election.
Hon Femi Kehinde, legal practitioner and former Member, House of Representatives, National Assembly Abuja, represented Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency of Osun State. (1999-2003)