The former Nigeria Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, recently reelected as President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), has been sworn-in for a five-year second term. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Heads of States, Governors and other stakeholders who joined physically and virtually.
He was reelected penultimate week to serve a second five-year term, with a 100 percent votes of all Governors, and regional and non-regional members of the bank. The news of his victory announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made President Buhari to lead a round of applause, declaring: “He deserves it.”
Buhari had displayed the leading role of Nigeria in the regional economic communities and in the return of Adesina, thanking the African Union (AU) for its endorsement of the AfDB President, and the shareholders of the bank who worked tirelessly to ensure the return of the renowned development economist and World Food Prize Laureate and Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate.
He said, “I believe that Adesina’s versatility, experience at both national and international engagements, will be further deployed to energise the pan-African financial institution.” He urged Adesina, who was first elected as President of the Bank on May 28, 2015, to remain focused and steadfast in pursuing the noble goals of making life better for Africans through various development plans, already captured as High 5s.
Apart from rejoicing with family, friends and professional colleagues of Adesina over the re-election, the Nigerian President also commended members of staff and Board of Governors of the AfDB for their consistent support for Adesina, and his management team, and pledged the full support of his government to Adesina, to ensure he has a successful tenure as helmsman of the AfDB.
At the sworn-in ceremony, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said in a congratulatory message to Adesina, on behalf of President Buhari and Nigerians: “It is now my great pleasure to convey the heartfelt congratulations of our President and the people of Nigeria to you, Dr. Adesina, on your re-election as President of the AfDB Group, to lead the institution for the next five years.
“We are proud of you, and we salute your passion for the Bank, and for Africa. The unanimity of the vote is a clear indication of the support of the entire membership of the AfDB for your leadership and program, and I use this opportunity to thank all of my fellow Governors for their support to you.
She had noted: “In your first term, you successfully introduced your vision for the Bank and for the development of Africa under the acclaimed High-5 Agenda to: ‘light up and power Africa; feed Africa; integrate Africa; industrialise Africa; and raise the quality of life of the people of Africa.”
Stating further, she said, “our journey to this point has been a long and arduous one, with twists and turns, but we managed to navigate our way to a safe harbour, guided by the golden compass of our common commitment to a strong Bank and the well-being of the people of Africa. I appreciate the hard work, cooperation, and sincerity of all Governors in tackling the challenges that faced the Bank in the lead-up to the Annual Meetings and election of the President. I was personally pleased to see the smooth virtual voting process. We show-cased the technical prowess of the Bank in successfully organising our Annual Meetings and conducting the elections on a virtual platform.
“…whatever position we may have taken individually on the various issues that arose throughout this period, everyone had the best interest of the Bank at heart. I am sure the Bank has taken the relevant lessons from the recent experience — and will work to strengthen the institution from this experience.”
According to her, “the Bank has done well in maintaining its AAA rating under a very difficult operating international environment, and we congratulate it on its success in raising the USD 3 billion bond recently in the international financial markets to augment its own resources for its developmental efforts on the continent.”
Furthermore, she appreciated the quick action of the Bank, the support of the Board of Directors, in providing emergency COVID-19 assistance to regional member countries, towards stabilising their economies as they deal with the present health and economic emergencies of the pandemic.
The Bank’s relevance to its regional member countries, according to her, is directly related to its preparedness and ability to stand with them in challenging times like we are currently in. She used the opportunity to urge the Bank to also consider intervention in the area of health infrastructure, as it would help both in coping with the present crisis as well as in preparing for possible future episodes.
She called on the AfDB to step up its efforts in helping African countries to create jobs for our youths because it is clear that Governments alone cannot do this.
“We truly need this in order to address the problems of
unauthorised migration and extremism across the continent. “We believe that the recent uplift of the Bank’s capital base under the GCI-7 and ADF-15 provides an opportunity to scale up its interventions in member countries.
With the various domestic reform efforts in our countries, including in the areas of resource mobilisation, public finance management, improving the environment for doing business, etc., as well as the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), Africa is well positioned for a new era of growth.
A strong AfDB would be able to play a catalysing role in these efforts, both in terms of lending and policy advice.
In her personal congratulatory message, Ahmed said: “The overwhelming support and votes of both regional and non-regional member countries is a testimony to the enviable achievements during your first term in office and a firm belief in your ability to take the Bank to greater heights. Nigerians and indeed Africans are very proud of your achievement.
“Your re-election would further provide the opportunity to consolidate on the exceptional vision and onerous task of steering the ship of the premier African financial institution on the path of fulfilling the aspirations of our founding fathers. It is also a call to redouble your efforts and commitment to consolidate the successes already achieved, as well as breaking new grounds in the development of our individual countries and the African continent in general.
“And your well thought out programmes to accelerate the growth in the African continent during the first term in office is unprecedented. Prominent among them is the development priorities of the High 5s with focus areas aimed at transforming the lives of the African people consistent with the United Nations Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
Ahmed also assured Adesina of Nigeria’s continued support in ensuring even greater successes in the years ahead. Among others in his speech at the occasion, Adesina noted that over the past five years, the Bank has delivered impressive results on these High 5s, which include, 18 million people with access to electricity, 141 million people had access to improved agricultural technologies for food security, 15 million people with access to finance from private investments, 101 million people with access to improved transport from infrastructure, and 60 million people with access to water and sanitation.
*Abdullahi is Special Adviser, (Media and Communications)
To the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.