On March 6, 1957 the then Goldcoast now known as Ghana became the first West African nation to attain political independence from the United Kingdom. Its leader Dr. Osaygefo Kwame Nkrumah who was American trained said in his independence speech that political independence was meaningless without economic independence.
Nkrumah was visionary in that speech as the bane of the African continent since independence has been that of economic dependence on the west thereby making most African nations a laughing stock in the international comity of nations.
It is tragic that until recently half of the foreign reserves of hitherto ‘independent’ Francophone countries were kept in France. Many of the despots in Africa are backed and sustained in power to the detriment of the interests of their countrymen by former colonial powers. The hypocritical west drafts the rules of corruption conveniently forgetting that the receiver of stolen goods is called a fence who is also equally as guilty as the thief. Many African dictators funnel their loot to foreign banks which is put to good use by the host countries. To make matters worse, these countries which house the loot give back breaking conditions for the return of the pilfered funds back to where they originally came from.
In 2015 the world rejoiced at the election of Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the former minister for agriculture as the President of the African Development Bank. He was an accomplished and extremely cerebral technocrat who initiated many ground breaking initiatives in the near comatose agricultural sector. He was the first Nigerian to hold the exalted position despite the fact that Nigeria is the largest shareholder in the bank with 9.1% of its entire shareholding.
The dapper dresser cum intellectual settled to work in earnest and increased the bank’s shareholding from $100 billion to more than double at $208 billion. He also greatly enhanced its knowledge capital in this age of the dominance of a knowledge driven economy which is the new purveyor of global wealth. His brilliance is not in doubt as he graduated with a First Class Degree from the then University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University and bagged his doctorate in flying colours from Purdue University at the young age of twenty-eight. He also won the World Food Prize in 2017.
He has long made his intention known to pursue a second term in office as his term expires in August.
From no where came a flurry of accusations against him ranging from nepotism to bad governance, abuse of office, gross misconduct, corruption, unethical conduct, favouritism, conflict of interest, impunity and bad governance. The whistle blower was anonymous and the allegations were rather weighty.
An ethics committee was hurriedly set up and in no time the soft spoken Adesina was cleared of all the allegations leveled against him. He was given a clean bill of health to run for a second term but the end of the allegations wasn’t seen as external forces are hell bent on assassinating his character and preventing him from seeking and obtaining a second term in office.
The US Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin wrote to the board of directors demanding an independent inquiry. The US has 6.5% shareholding in the bank and is rather influential in the board politics.
The critical question to ask is why should the US be interfering in the day to day running of the bank? If the tables are turned – can Nigeria seek to dislodge the President of the World Bank – always Americans if he or she is accused of committing an infraction? Why should neo-colonialism be the lot of Africans decades after independence?
A mortal sin which Adesina was said to have committed is his alleged cozying up to Beijing and the snubbing of the west. The latter are aghast at his behaviour and are out to extract their pound of flesh by ensuring that the bank sees his back this year.
According to Obadiah Malaifa, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank who was once a career economist at the bank said in his article published in the Punch Newspapers on the 1st of June 2020 that there are deep anti Nigerian sentiments at the bank. Other African nations are intimidated by the stellar accomplishments of Nigerians at the bank and their highly impressive academic records obtained at Ivy League and Russell Group institutions in the United States and United Kingdom.
It is gratifying that some African leaders led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo are standing sturdily behind him. It is good for once that the divide and conquer strategy of the west hasn’t bared its ugly fangs here.
When I remember the scramble for and partition for Africa at the Berlin conference in the late 19th century, my heart bleeds at the perpetual under development of the African continent by the avaricious western powers. The evergreen book ‘How Europe underdeveloped Africa’ written by Walter Rodney comes readily to mind here.
Africa must stand up and rally round Adesina to show the west that we are indeed independent and can ably manage our own affairs without disastrous external interventions. Let patriotic Africans use Adesina as a point of contact to say a loud nay to neo-colonialism.
We mustn’t outsource our thinking caps to the west and it is high time we stood up to the nauseating bullying tactics of Uncle Sam. Africans must rally round their own and should not suck up to the west at every slightest opportunity.
Let us hope that Adesina is able to prove his critics wrong by winning a second term and this will be the beginning of the long struggle against the sinister forces of imperialism.
Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com