Nigeria had made three attempts at occupying the post without success. It will be Nigeria’s seminal occupation of the office in the 50-year-old bank.
He will succeed President Donald Kaberuka, whose 10-year tenure ends in September.
Adesina who beat seven other contenders for the top job won the election having garnered 58.10 per cent of the total votes, out of which regional votes represented 60.50 per cent. He was followed by Chad’s Minister of Finance and Budget, Kordje Bedoumra, who came a distant second with 31.62 per cent of total votes and 36.63 per cent of regional votes while the only woman in the race, Minister of Finance and Planning of Cape Verde, Cristina Duarte, polled 10.27 per cent of the total votes out of which regional votes represented 2.87 per cent.
The eight candidates who contested the election 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.
However, the support for Nigeria, THISDAY learnt, was boosted by Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries after Sakala from Zimbabwe was dropped in the fifth round. SADC comprises 14 countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Comoros.
Addressing a large audience, which includes the board of governors, AfDB staff, journalists from across Africa and the world as well as observers, amongst others, an elated Adesina said, he was happy that the governors had elected him as the bank’s president. The president-elect, who acknowledged that the election was ‘transparent and fantastic’, said the other candidates were his friends and he would work with them.
Adesina noted that he had been given a responsibility to manage the bank and he would do his own bit to the best of his ability and the cooperation of others.
The former minister, who acknowledged the ‘excellent work’ of Kaberuka, assured that he would build on it, and promised ‘to be a responsible president, work hard and be focused.’ “I salute the excellent work of President Kaberuka. It will be a big challenge for me to step into his shoes. He leaves a solid Bank behind him.”
“I know that Africa’s future is huge and we can even make Africa the pride of the world with all-inclusive growth.
Adesina's victory comes as Nigeria prepares for the inauguration of the newly elected administration of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, which holds this morning.
The incoming president had in April communicated his backing of Dr. Adesina’s candidacy to the Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, who is the current chairperson of ECOWAS.
Buhari said that his support of Dr. Adesina’s candidacy was not just because he is Nigerian but because he “has a proven track record in a career that predates his position as Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development”.
He added that Dr. Adesina had years of experience of working in Francophone and Anglophone countries, and a passion to help eradicate poverty in Africa by reducing unemployment and inequality among African youth.
The statement further adds that “Dr. Adesina is also an agricultural development expert with 24 years of experience in developing and managing successful agricultural Programmes across Africa”.
In the same vein, Buhari had sent former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the South African President, Jacob Zuma, to solicit his support for Adesina’s quest.
All of the regional reach-outs have obviously paid off with the election of Adesina on Thursday.
Until his appointment as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2011, he was the Vice President, Policy and Partnerships Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
He has also held senior leadership positions in a number of agricultural institutions in the world.
Reacting to Adesina’s victory, the Minster of Finance and Coordinating minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala hailed Adesina saying he was great and stressing that his campaign was strong and great. Okonjo-Iweala made the announcement on her personal twitter handle @NOIweala.
“Great news! Nigeria's Akin Adesina has won the AfDB presidency after our strong campaign! Great campaign! Great candidate!
Adesina who also confirmed his victory had tweeted that “as President, I will not let Africans down.
I will be the President of all. Those that voted for me and those that didn't vote for me.
Also, the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi described the victory of Mr. Adesina as a victory for his personal goodness and for Nigeria. He said it was a positive commentary on the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which, he noted, has through many positive acts, restored confidence in Nigeria and Nigerians.
Expressing optimism that Africa will benefit from his presidency, he urged him to remain a good Ambassador of Nigeria.
Adesina, 55, is a PhD holder in Agricultural Economics (1988) from the Purdue University, USA, where he had previously obtained a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics in 1985. He had bagged Bachelor’s degree (First Class honours) in Agricultural Economics from University of Ife, Nigeria, in 1981.
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.
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His media aide, Mr Austin Oniyokor, confirmed the departure of the NDLEA operatives saying that Kashamu was presently attending to his health and would speak to the media after recovering.
Expressing thanks to the judiciary for the intervention that led to the development, Oniyokor said: “We also salute the judiciary for once again rising to the occasion and proving yet that it is truly the last hope of the common man and the oppressed. We are grateful that the judiciary has again affirmed Prince Buruji Kashamu’s innocence of the charges against him, thus turning for good what was meant for evil.
“Our appreciation also goes to the media, civil society groups, student bodies and all well-meaning Nigerians for their prayers, support and solidarity during the period.
“After attending to his health, Prince Kashamu will address the media, Nigerians and the whole world on his ordeal and the intricate web of political intrigues behind the wicked attempt to abduct him for no just cause using the instrument and machinery of state.”
Earlier in the day, the operatives tightened the siege with the addition of more operatives to the operation around the residence. The development quickly brought the harsh rebuke of Kashamu’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede who disclosed that the six day incarceration had stated taking its toll on the health of his client who he said has made complaints of health problems ranging from blood circulation blockage, palpitation and general body pains.
Earlier in the day, the standoff between the politician and the NDLEA drew protests from women groups and students of tertiary institutions in Ogun State who lamented what they called the infringement of Kashamu’s rights by the NDLEA.