AKINWUMI ADESINA: Taking Africa to the next level

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Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and top contender for the presidency of the African Development Bank who spearheaded a revolution in Nigeria’s agriculture sector, is eager to be given the opportunity to extend his innovative ideas to the entirety of Africa

By Dike Onwuamaeze

Africa is faced with huge challenges that militate against its development. The case of Africa is a paradox. Although the continent is one of the most endowed in terms of natural resources in the world, its people are one of the poorest globally, just as the continent lags behind others, development-wise.

The  high level of corruption and endemic low technological advancement have ensured that Africa’s story has always been that of poverty, illiteracy, diseases, malnutrition, energy crisis, inadequate water supply and sanitation, as well as poor health.

According to the 2014 United Nations’ Human Development Report, 35 of the poorly ranked 43 nations in the human development index are in Africa. This confirms the continent seriously dawdle in the area of poverty reduction; coupled with other problems holding it back. But what is to be done to lop off these tentacles?

There is consensus in Africa and the international community that Africa needs transformational leaders who can turnaround the abysmal situations on the continent, and position it on the path of inclusive socio-economic growth and development, both at country-level and at the helm of its development institutions.

Opportunity beckons

Interestingly, the chance beckons at Africa’s premier development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB). The stage is set for the Board of Governors of the AfDB Group to elect one of the eight candidates vying for the Bank’s top job as the tenure of Donald Kaberuka, the incumbent Bank President, gradually comes to an end.

One of the leading contenders in the race is Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Many believe he is well-placed to serve as AfDB president. As expected, there is no shortage of support for Dr Adesina’s candidature by global leaders, including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations. The former UN scribe described Dr Adesina as “a dynamic and inspirational leader who can lead the process of transformation with commitment and determination”.

“He is able to reach out across organizational boundaries to connect people and institutions, including those in the private sector, which are needed to help develop and implement the Bank’s strategy and goals for the years ahead,” he adds.

As a mark of confidence Nigeria and its leaders have on Dr Adesina, the outgoing President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari have thrown their weight behind him in the contest.  Buhari said his endorsement of Dr Adesina’s candidacy is not just because he is a Nigerian but based on the fact that he has a proven track record in a career that predates his position as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Indeed, he boasts several years of experience of working in Francophone and Anglophone countries, and has passion to help eradicate poverty in Africa by reducing unemployment and inequality among African youths.

Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, former executive president, African Business Roundtable and ex-chairman, NEPAD Business Group, believes Dr Adesina is well cut-out for the job. Dr Adesina’s “sagacity and unquantifiable business acumen places him as first among equals for the position of the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). We, as committed and genuine African businessmen, have gone through the official records, services and academic qualifications of Adesina and found him a fit and proper person for the position of the president of the AfDB”, says Tukur.

Dr Adesina’s endorsements from influential Africans are largely based on his personal contributions to the development of his country, Nigeria in particular and Africa as a whole. In recognition of Dr Adesina’s status as a global player who has impacted positively on Africa, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had in 2010 named him among the 17 global leaders who were helping to drive the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2013, Dr Adesina won the Forbes Africa Person of the Year Award for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.  It is on record that he is the first Minister in Africa to win the award.

Dr Adesina is truly pan-African. Prior to joining the Nigerian government as minister in 2011, he had lived and worked in 15 African countries, including 10 years in Francophone countries. He was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) where he led several innovative policy and finance initiatives that leveraged over $4 billion in bank finance commitments towards Africa’s agriculture sector.

Working with Heads of State and Finance Ministers, leaders of the commercial banking industry, and central bank governors across Africa, Dr Adesina successfully led one of the largest global efforts to leverage domestic bank finance for the agricultural sector, and in doing so, contributed to lifting millions of people out of poverty.


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October 2016