The Vice President, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, has said the American Treasury Department is mistaken about its call for a fresh probe of the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, calling for engagement with Washington on the issue.
The chamber leader in a virtual chat on African post-pandemic recovery, said the Treasury Department must consider programmes of the US State Department to see how helpful to Africa and Washington Adesina has been by his innovative support and stabilisation of Africa through the AfDB.
Kayode said: “It is very sad that one of Africa’s best is being dragged around over what I will call a non-issue. The man was not accused of embezzling or diverting bank’s money. If anything, he increased the bank’s capitalisation and ensured investment in real sector to take the continent out of under-development. I read through the charges, his defence and the report of the Ethics Committee.
“I immediately concluded that somebody is misinforming Washington on the true state of things at the bank. Sincerely, I believe the American Treasury Secretary was misled to seek fresh probe of Adesina. We actually need to engage the Treasury Department on this matter.
“Washington is being misled to attack his own, an American trained scholar who has protected American interest so far by stabilising Africa in developmental funding. If not for AfDB and Adesina, China would have fully taken over Africa in the area of infrastructure financing. AfDB provides the developmental funding, giving Africa alternatives.”
Wondering why the United States is not looking at the bigger picture, the Chamber chief questioned why America and other western shareholders are against a President who has protected the integrity of African developmental landscape, adding: “We actually need to engage with the White House and the Treasury Department.”
On ongoing engagement over the matter, Kayode said: “A lot is being done. Several African leaders with foot in Washington have intervened. I read a letter by friends of President Trump in Nigeria, urging him to step into the matter. That is also good. From the private sector chamber movement, we are also wading into the matter, calling on the US Chamber of Commerce to intervene. We are sending correspondence soon. It is in the interest of Africa and the Western world for Adesina to remain as President.”
On African recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Kayode said: “Governments now more than ever before need to enhance the capacity of the private sector to operate. This is the time to loosen up the regulatory bottlenecks, provide genuine support for SMEs and allow flourishing of businesses without inhibition created by anti-business antics of some state officials.
“This is the time for government officials to recognise that they are not in business, the businessmen are in business. The job of government is to provide enabling environment for businesses to flourish. In turn, government benefits from prosperous business environment through tax revenue.
“So for a sound recovery agenda, government must target real businesses as represented by Chambers of Commerce and Industry all over the country and continent. Recovery cannot be achieved if we patronise only ‘political businessmen’ leaving genuine SMEs operators without access to Coronavirus support. Secondly, we must create policy targeting expansion of our production capacity across the economic lines.
“To do this again, government should preoccupy itself with setting the policy framework and access to finance, leaving the private sector to run the sectoral businesses. Areas like industrial parks among others are the turf of organised private sector. It is time we ensure proper marking of responsibility. Government don’t run businesses; private sector does.”