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AfDB Screens Adesina, Seven Others

Akinwunmi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
By Kunle Aderinokun in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Ahead of the African Development Bank (AfDB) presidential election which holds today, the eight candidates in the race met with the Board of Governors on Wednesday at the ongoing bank’s 50th Annual Meetings in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The eight candidates who  met individually with the board of governors were Akinwunmi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia; Jaloul Ayed, Minister of Fnance, Tunisia; Kordje Bedoumra, Minister of Finance and Budget, Chad; Cristina Duarte, Minister of Finance and Planning, Cabo Verde; Samura M.W. Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sierra Leone; Thomas  Zondo Sakala (Zimbabwe), former Vice President, Country and Regional Programmes, AfDB; and Birama Boubacar Sidibe (Mali), Vice President, Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Sources told THISDAY that each candidate took turn to defend his vision statement  before the board of governors.
The successful candidate will replace Dr. Donald Kaberuka, a national of Rwanda, who has been in the saddle since September 1, 2005, following his election in July 2005. He has served two terms of five years each.
Although the process that will lead to the emergence of the new president started since July 1, 2014,  according to the rules of Procedure Governing the Election of the President of the AfDB, the election  will hold during the annual meeting closest to the end of the term of office of the serving president.
It implies that the AfDB board of governors  will be electing Kaberuka’s successor on May 28, 2015, during the ongoing bank’s annual meetings in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Adesina, Nigeria’s candidate, is hopeful of clinching the presidency as THISDAY learnt the country had garnered significant support from some francophone and English-speaking regional member countries of the bank, as well as non-regional members, which are reputed to be very influential in determining who wins the race.
According to the voting powers, all the 54 regional member countries have a combined 3,844,574 votes with voting powers of 59.722, while 26 non-regional members, including the United Kingdom and United State have 2,592,862 votes and voting powers of 40.278.Specifically, Nigeria has the highest 595,838 votes with voting powers of 9.256 per cent.
Adesina, 55, comes to the race with a wealth of experience  and outstanding performance.  Until his appointment  in 2010, he was the Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).  Prior to that, he had worked  at the Rockefeller Foundation since winning a fellowship from the Foundation as a senior scientist in 1988. From 1999 to 2003 he was the representative of the Foundation for the southern African region.

From 2003 until 2008 to the present he was an associate director for food security.
Adesina is credited with notable reforms in the agriculture sector that have attracted unprecedented level of investment into the sector. According to official figures, within the last three years, food import  has dropped significantly from N1 trillion to N466 billion.
As part of the reforms in the sectors, transparency in the administration  and distribution of fertilisers have  abated corruption and corrupt tendencies in the processes, hitherto a cesspit of graft.

In July 2007, Adesina  was awarded the YARA Prize for the African Green Revolution in Oslo, Norway Besides, the minister was named Forbes African of the Year in 2013 for his reforms in the agriculture sector. In bestowing on him the honour, Editor, Forbes Africa, Chris Bishop, had said:  “He is a man on a mission to help Africa feed itself.”
Adesina is a holder of PhD in Agricultural Economics  (1988) from the Purdue University, USA,  where he had previously obtained a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics in 1985. Prior to these feats, he bagged  Bachelor’s degree (First Class honours) in Agricultural Economics from  University of Ife, Nigeria,  in 1981.
This is the third time Nigeria is taking a shot at the AfDB presidency. In 1995, the then Director-General of OPEC Fund, Dr. Saheed Abdullahi, represented Nigeria in a contest that saw Mr. Omar Kabbaj emerged the President . Ten years after (in 2005),  the battle was brought to Nigeria when she hosted the 40th Annual Meetings of the bank and the nation’s candidate, Mr. Bisi Ogunjobi,  the then bank’s Vice President, Operations, West and Central lost to Kaberuka, Rwandan, who was sponsored by the non-regional member countries (NRMCs) that include the United States, China, United Kingdom, Japan and France.
Nigeria plays a significant role in AfDB, as a leading shareholder among the RMCs. Nigeria took a bold step in 1976 to set up the Nigeria Trust Fund(NTF), which with the ADF make up the  AfDB Group. The fund was set up in agreement with the bank to assist in the development of regional member countries (RMCs), whose economic and social conditions  and prospects require financing on concessional terms. The fund which became operational in April 1976, had an initial capital of $80million.
NTF lends at no interest charge but with a service charge of 0.75 per cent per annum on outstanding balances and commitment fee of 0.5 per cent per annum on un-disbursed commitments with a repayment period of 27 years including a grace period of up to  seven years.  It was replenished in 1981 with $71million. By the end of 2004, the total resources of NTF had risen to $540.26million. In 2008, Nigeria and the bank agreed to a 10-year extension of the NTF.

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