On Thursday 28th May, 2015, the African Development Bank elected Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina as its next President. He is the first Nigerian to hold that position since the inception of the bank in 1965 He is due to resume on September 1, 2015.
The new AfDB President is 55 and he will succeed Rwandan Donald Kaberuka, who will be completing his two consecutive terms as the bank’s chief since 2005. He was elected after six rounds of voting, beating the finance ministers of Cape Verde and Chad to the role. The election was conducted by the Board of the Bank during the annual meeting of the African Development Bank Group in Abidjan.
Even though Adesina had good enviable qualification, experience and credentials, it was not an easy straightforward win for Adesina, as he was up against Thomas Sakala, former Vice President at the bank who had the backing of the Southern African Development Community. Incidentally the lone female candidate Cristina Duarte of Cape Verde also proved to be tough competition. In his vision for the AfDB, Adesina pledged to – Prioritize small- and medium-sized enterprises as he puts in place plans to grow the bank’s private sector operations – Make infrastructure lending more integrated instead of “opportunistic or isolated, one-off infrastructure investments” and – Mainstream job creation for youth and women across the bank’s operations, among others.
Adesina’s achievement’s in Nigeria’s Agriculture Industry In about four (4) years as Minister of Agriculture, he was able to introduce various agribusiness/enterprise specific initiatives that encouraged Banks and specialised lending Institutions like Bank of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture increase their lending to the agricultural sector. It was under him the e-wallet for Seed and Fertilizer procurement by farmers was introduced. Cellulant Nigeria captured data of practicing farmers in their data base. These farmers are able to procure seeds and Fertilizer directly from agrodealers. The farmers got the subsidy directly. This system helped curb the huge corruption in the Seed and Fertilizer industry. Many local Seed companies were not left out in benefitting directly from funds to enhance their production capacities. His first words a few minutes into his victory, “I will not let you down.” This is a promise he strongly hopes to fulfil while he is President of African Development Bank.
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Mr. Akinwumi Adesina’s ambition to head the AfDB was supported by President Goodluck Jonathan. However, the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari specifically mandated former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to personally go to South Africa with Dr Akinwunmi Adesina to meet President Jacob Zuma. It’s like saying “Jacob, I need your vote for my man to win this post, do it for me”
Even though Adesina was a clear favourite, an erudite scholar, eloquent speaker akin to a motivational speaker. Forbes’ man of Year 2013, an enviable CV, he still needed support from other geographical regions of Africa. He also had over 13,000 twitter followers. Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the candidacy of Adesina as the body’s president. He had communicated his backing of Dr Adesina’s candidacy to Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, the Chairman of ECOWAS. President Buhari said his support of Dr Adesina’s candidacy was not just because he is a Nigerian. ”Dr Adesina has a proven track record in a career that predates his position as Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.” He had earlier promised he won’t let us down.