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AfDB Presidency: High Hope For Adesina

Posted: May 28, 2015 at 1:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Bamidele Ogunwusi,  Lagos


As member countries of the African Development Bank (AfDB) meet today in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to elect a new president for the continental financial institution, experts have given Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s outgoing Minister of Agriculture, a bright chance of replacing Dr. Donald Kaberuka, for an initial five-year term.

Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Kaberuka, a national of Rwanda, was first elected in July 2005 and commenced his first term on September 1, 2005. Following his re-election in May 2010, he commenced his final term in 2010.

To clinch the coveted position at this evening’s election and become the first Nigerian to do so, Adesina must overcome co-contenders like:  Sufian Ahmed from Ethiopia, Jaloul Ayed from Tunisia, Kordjé Bedoumra of Chad, Cristina Duarte from Cape Verde, Samura M. W. Kamara from Sierra Leone, Thomas Z. Sakala from Zimbabwe and Birama Boubacar Sidibé of Mali.

The election would be based on the voting powers of member countries as at 30 April 2015, with Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Ethiopia having the largest votes among regional members, while United States, Japan, Germany, Canada and France are tops among non-regional members.

Daily Independent gathered that while all the 54 regional members have a combined 3,844,574 votes, representing a 59.509 per cent voting power, the 26 non-regional members, control 2,592,862 votes and or 40.491 per cent.

Further analysis of the voting power, shows that Nigeria has the highest of 595,838 votes or 9.256 per cent, followed by Egypt and South Africa with almost 11 per cent of the votes between them.

The election has attracted interest among experts in international relations, who believe this is the closest Nigeria has come to getting the top job, especially with high powered lobbying.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, reportedly visited South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to lobby for Adesina, on behalf of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.

At the meeting, Atiku conveyed Buhari’s support to Zuma. According to the President-elect’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, some weeks ago, “the issue of South Africa and the Southern African region’s support for Nigeria’s candidate was exhaustively discussed and well appreciated.”

Buhari had also reportedly conveyed his support to the President of Ghana, John Mahama, when both leaders recently met in Abuja.

Dr Obi Iwuagwu of the Department of International Relations, University of Lagos, agrees that Nigeria stands a good chance of clinching the position, apart from other considerations, because of his antecedence and his being a “respected and disciplined achieve” who is eminently qualified.

Another factor expected to work in Adesina’s favour, Iwuagwu believes, is that he enjoys the support of both the out-going government of Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari’s in-coming administration.

In a telephone interview with our correspondent, Iwuagwu was however quick to add: “The fear is that when it comes to African politics, our brother countries don’t always believe in us. This may either be due to inferiority or envy. As a result of this, I will put Nigeria’s chance at 50-50”.

Iwuagwu also said it is difficult to predict which of the candidates, members of the 26-country non-regional voting bloc like United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Brazil would support at today’s election, or whether they would vote en-bloc for any of the contenders.

“But, I hope the United States and countries in the European Union, championed by Britain should be able to support Nigeria.”

For Dr Niran Aluko of the Department of African Studies and Conflicts Resolution, University of Ibadan, Adesina’s chance is boosted by the fact that aside from Nigeria, only two other countries among the top 10 ranked countries in the body have candidates in this election.

“We are a bit lucky this time around. Only Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, among countries presenting candidates with Nigeria, belonged to the top 10 leading countries in the regional body (in terms of votes). Those countries that are not presenting candidates like South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Cote D’Ivoire, are the ones likely to determine who will emerge as the next president of the body.

“This now brings our attention to non-regional members. As it stands today, the U.S, United Kingdom, Canada and France are some of the countries that are fully supporting the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari and this will rub-off on Nigeria’s chances at the AfDB election. By and large, I can see these countries voting for Nigeria. Remember that non-regional members have 40.691 per cent voting power in the election”, Aluko also told Daily Independent, Tuesday, on phone.

Contributing, Dr Dapo Adegbile, a former university don, agrees with Aluko that the time for Nigeria to lead the bank is now, especially as the favourable political developments in the country have taken away the negative impression countries like the U.S. and European countries have about her.

His words: “The outcome of the last election will be an added advantage for Nigeria in clinching this position this time. We are like the bride of Africa and we should be able to win without serious contention. I am sure that some candidates will withdraw from the election at the eleventh hour, as high level lobbying has been intensified in recent days”.

Already also, the House of Represenatives has thrown its weight behind the country’s candidate by a unanimous decision at plenary, following a motion by Munir Baba Dan’Agundi, who announced that Adesina has been shortlisted along with seven others vying for the job. He argued that if the leadership of the continental bank is not carefully chosen, the much expected poverty eradication in the next decade may not be realised.

Dan’Agundi said the sterling and academic qualities of the outgoing minister, added to his experience of working in Anglophone and Francophone countries and his tremendous passion to help eradicate poverty through reduction of unemployment among Nigerian youths, make him fit for the job. He also drew the attention of his colleagues to the various endorsements of Adesina for the position by President Jonathan, the president-elect.

Adesina is also optimistic of victory, after consulting widely.

Dr Olukayode Oyeleye, Special Adviser to the Minister on Media, told NAN via e-mail that Adesina has so far garnered tremendous support from African nations and other stakeholders beyond the continent during his campaign.

“The minister has embarked extensively on campaigns and recorded tremendous support from African nations and other stakeholders beyond Africa.

“Now, campaign is ending. It is time to expect his declaration as president by the Bank’s board, and that is coming up later in the week.

“His presidency will prioritise the development in energy sector across the continent, ICT and urban infrastructure.

“Emphasis will be on private sector growth and a shift in emphasis from aid dependence.

“Supporting programmes that will create employment for youths, promote venture capitalism and private equity in the continent’s economy,” Oyeleye said.

According to him, the minister will also focus on reviving rural economies through agricultural transformation and the need to strengthen regional integration.