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Adesina emerges African Development Bank’s president

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

The immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, on Thursday emerged as the new President of the African Development Bank.

The 55-year-old Adesina, who until yesterday (Thursday) served the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan as a minister, defeated seven other contestants from across the continent by scoring 58 per cent of the votes cast in an election held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where the AfDB is based.

He contested against Chadian Finance Minister, Kordje Bedoumra, who secured 32 per cent of the votes, and his counterpart from Cape Verde, Cristina Duarte, who got 10 per cent.

The AfDB said on its Twitter feed that Adesina would take over from Donald Kaberuka of Rwanda on September 1 as the 50-year-old body’s eighth leader.

“It went very well. We are really elated and grateful we have delivered this for Nigeria. We had a great candidate and a lot of support,” the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told Reuters after the result was announced.

The bank, which was founded in 1964 to provide capital to foster economic development and alleviate poverty in its member states, is financed by both African nations and shareholder countries outside the continent.

Among other things, analysts say Adesina will have to guide the bank through the continent’s increasingly complex financial environment, where nations are turning to non-traditional partners like China and international debt markets.

Adesina was said to have been recommended to Jonathan by the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, having reportedly impressed Sanusi with his work on programmes to improve agriculture credit.

Bloomberg quoted Adesina as saying that the AfDB needed to focus on promoting investment by businesses.

“He is an example of a leader in the Nigerian political space who has done well,” Ebenezer Essoka, vice chairman for Africa at Standard Chartered Plc, told Bloomberg.

He becomes the AfDB leader at a time when falling prices of oil, copper and other commodities dim the outlook for economic growth and investment in Africa.

The AfDB’s loans and grants amounted to $7.8bn in 2014, 22 per cent more than the previous year.

Despite being a prominent member of Jonathan’s cabinet, the newly sworn in President Muhammadu Buhari supported Adesina’s candidature for the AfDB position and personally campaigned for him.

Shortly after he defeated Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election, Buhari sent former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as a special envoy to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa pleading for his support for Adesina to become the AfDB president.

As agriculture minister, Adesina tried to revitalise farming after decades of neglect following the discovery of oil in Nigeria in the 1950s. He has been praised for bringing more transparency to fertilizer subsidies, a programme riddled with corruption in the past.

The Federal Government had estimated that food production increased by 21 million metric tonnes during his tenure.

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Posted By BOBRICKY On 07:47 Fri, 29 May 2015

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