Presidential Race: Odds Against Adesina

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DESPITE the purchase of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Nigerian Tribune can report that the African Development Bank (AfDB) president cannot join the race without first resigning from office. 

Nigerian Tribune findings showed that Section 38 of the agreement establishing AfDB prohibits Adesina from joining the presidential race while he still serves as the continental body’s president. 

Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the agreement establishing AfDB, accessed on AfDB website on Sunday and titled ‘Prohibition of Political Activity; the International Character of the Bank’, states that “The Bank, its President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member (country); nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member (country) concerned.” 

Paragraph 3 of the Article states that, “The President, Vice Presidents, officers and staff of the Bank, in discharge of their offices, owe their duty entirely to the Bank and to no other authority.” 

Similarly, the AfDB code of conduct bars its executive from partisan politics. Section 10 of the Code, which was accessed on the AfDB website on Sunday, states as follows: “Although Executive Directors are elected representatives of governments from their constituencies, they shall during their tenure of office as Executive Directors refrain from participating in active politics in their home countries or elsewhere. 

Such activities are not only inconsistent with Executive Directors’ duty to devote their full time and attention to the Bank, but may also embarrass or result in inappropriate publicity for the Bank as an international financial institution, insulated from the internal politics of member countries. 

“This prohibition is without prejudice to an Executive Director’s civic rights and responsibilities in his/her home country. An Executive Director who accepts or assumes public office in any country shall resign as Executive Director.” 

Recall that a coalition of 28 groups, including Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora, One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups and farmers, raised N100 million to procure the APC form for Dr Adesina on Saturday. 

The call for Adesina to join the presidential race has been on since the beginning of the year. The Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria (PYAN) was the first to ask the AfDB president to join the race in January. 

In a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Mr Haruna Awode, PYAN said, “At the moment, Nigeria does not just need people with political exposure to lead as president; the exalted office should be occupied by a young, vibrant, intellectual with experienced and focused mind. 

“Academically, Adesina has a track record of brilliancy. He was the first to graduate with a First Class Honours, Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics, from the Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, in 1981. 

“He holds a master’s degree and a PhD in Agricultural Economics (1988) from Purdue University, USA, where he won the Outstanding PhD thesis award for that year. 

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“He has demonstrated that  his outstanding academic performance was not a fluke, as he has applied this in meeting the social and economic needs of humanity at both national and international stages.” 

The group said as a former minister of agriculture and the incumbent president of AfDB, Adesina has not disappointed or failed the nation, especially the youth. 

Other groups have since joined the clamour for Adesina to seek the highest office in Nigeria. Adesina, who served as the minister, was elected as president of the AfDB in May 2015 and assumed duty in September of the same year. 

He was re-elected for another term of five years in August 2020. His final tenure will not lapse until September 2025. 

However, he has never commented on the political moves; neither does his body language suggests that he has such intention. 

For months, some groups had led the advocacy that the former minister should run for the presidency in 2023, citing his pedigree and wealth of experience as global player and authority. 

The promoters of the project went as far as printing posters embossed with his picture, asking him to contest for the number one position in the country. 

Even his occasional trips to Nigeria for official engagements and visits to some senior citizens were interpreted as subtle moves by him to hold consultations on the idea. 

The suggestions by a few elder statesmen that the next president of the should be under 60 years and that he should be well-grounded in economic issues were also perceived as apparent reference to the category of his personage in the race for who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of his tenure in May 2023. 

However, the advocacy became less pronounced until lately when parties began the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms to presidential hopefuls in the APC. A coalition of groups claimed to have raised the sum of N100 million to procure the nomination and expression of interest forms of the APC for the president of the AfDB. 

The sale of the forms ends tomorrow, May 10. Prior to the action of the coalition, some Nigerians in the diaspora had also issued a press statement last week, urging Adesina to contest for the presidency and expressing their readiness to rally round him if he acquiesced. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River); Governor Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Senator Ken Nnamani and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, are among those that have declared their bid for the APC ticket.

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