By: Obinna Chima
Some friends and former colleagues of the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, as well as beneficiaries of the federal government’s empowerment schemes during his tenure as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria have expressed support for the embattled president of the development bank.
At an online media briefing yesterday, they extolled the leadership qualities of Adesina, whose second term bid to lead AfDB is being threatened by opposition by some non-African shareholders of the bank, led by the United States.
The Executive Vice Chairman/Group CEO, Verdant Zeal Communications Limited, Mr. Tunji Olugbodi, said within three years of his first term, Adesina embarked on bold reforms of the bank.
According to him, under his watch, the bank has been substantially repositioned globally, and he has driven highly impactful programmes that are accelerating the development of the continent.
“Since his election as president, the bank has maintained its AAA rating by all the four major global rating agencies, four years in a row. This is a reflection of the bank’s sound financial and risk management, excellent liquidity and strong shareholder support,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of Agrolay Ventures, Ms. Ada Osakwe, said Adesina, over the years had displayed purposeful leadership and stewardship at the bank and so should not be distracted.
Osakwe, who had served as Senior Investment Adviser to the AfDB president when he was a minister in Nigeria, added that Adesina has led one of the impactful tenures at the AfDB.
She said: “I worked with Adesina since 2012. For him, it has always been about the greater of Africa and how to transform the continent. Currently, I am serving as his interim Chief Operating Officer for the foundation he founded, the World Hunger Fighters Foundation, which he started from the fund he got from the prizes he won. He has a deep resolve that in his lifetime, Africa will feed itself.
“He is the best person to change the narrative of the AfDB and five years down the line he has reformed the bank.”
Also, the Managing Director of Babban Gona, Mr. Kola Masha, described Adesina as someone that is passionate about Nigeria, Africa and about development.
“As an individual, he is tirelessly committed to transforming Africa. What is always important to him is the calibre of individuals he works with. He doesn’t care where you come from, but most importantly, he is committed to having talented individuals work with him to add value. But we must understand that in any situation whereby someone is trying to change the status quo, there would always be elements that would resist that as he has found himself today,” Masha said.
A pioneer beneficiary of the Youth in Employment Agric Programme (YEAP), Mr. Temitope Aroge, narrated how he was selected for the programme without knowing anyone at the ministry during Adesina’s tenure in Nigeria.
He added: “The YEAP programme, which Adesina during his days as Minister of Agriculture created, created an opportunity for young entrepreneurs and professionals to develop a bond.
“Adesina has also gone to the AfDB to escalate this model. For about four years now, there have been programmes all over Africa for young people whereby entrepreneurs across the continent, from Tunisia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, are brought together yearly, given recognition, inspired and also mobilised other multilateral agencies and private sector organisations to pick interest in entrepreneurs in Africa, which is unprecedented. It has never happened before.”