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AfDB crisis: Surprises ahead in boardroom voting power

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—Africa shoots self in the foot

—Only thing worse than being ignored by the US is being noticed by the US‭ ‬

A fresh angle emerged over the weekend about a possible loophole that exists in the voting power arrangement at the African Development Bank (AfDB) that could easily play regional shareholders into the hands of non-regional members should the current United States push actually means Washington wants the bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, out of office.

Many in diplomatic circles, who told Business A.M. they were following developments, think this may be the ultimate goal. But how the United States succeeds in achieving this goal can be seen in how, over the time, the voting power between regional and non-regional shareholders has closed up.

As at December 31, 2019, the distribution of voting power among the regional and non-regional executive directors of the bank was in the ratio of 3 to 2. Regional executive directors had 3,836,605 votes, representing 58.784 per cent, while the non-regional executive directors had 2,689,959 votes or 41.216 per cent.

People familiar with the situation told Business A.M. that even when there are no misgivings, when a powerful shareholder like the United States has an agenda to pursue the diplomatic horse-trading is often fierce.

One source in London put it bluntly: “Would you want to be on the wrong side of President Trump?” He asked, in reference to how such a diplomatic horse trading could play out should the US press some regional shareholders to take its position.

The fact that the US has taken an interest in the matter at the AfDB is something that Business A.M. learnt makes the situation bad as it is. “I’ve always thought the only thing worse than being ignored by the US is being noticed by the US,” the source said.

But the real battle that lies ahead will be in the boardroom, given the voting power equation. As someone said, “the fate of Akinwumi Adesina is not in the hand of African countries but foreign investors.”

But while the ordeals of the President Adesina evokes sympathy, it appears a lot of voices in his support, either from his home country Nigeria, or from other African countries, as shown in media reports over the weekend, have dwelled more on African sentiments than looking at more potent issues that could ultimately determine the direction of events after the moment when the frenzy of supports gets to saturation point.

“In corporate governance, noise is different from facts. Whether the defenders of the embattled AfDB President know it or not, the real battle is more in the boardroom and the ultimate determinants are numbers. In this case, the numbers will play up in a number of ways, one of which is the voting powers of countries,” explained a Lagos-based diplomat.

Nigeria as the largest shareholder has 9.3 per cent voting power. It is followed by the United States which has 6.6 per cent voting power. Others with significant voting powers are Japan (5.4%); Germany (4.2%); Canada (4%); France (3.7%); Italy (2.4%); U.K (1.7%); Sweden (1.5%); Switzerland (1.5%);

Apart from Egypt with 5.4%, South Africa with 4.9%, Algeria with 4.2%, the rest of 8 African nations from Cote d’Ivoire to Kenya have nominal status from 3%-1% voting power.

The vulnerability of most African regional member countries can thus be seen from the table. And when it comes to wielding powers, guess where the pendulum would swing and what factors would sway the vulnerable and the weak to the side of the strong.

And if the US, rightly or wrongly accused of orchestrating the crisis, decides to exit the AfDB, might there be an exodus of other non-regional members? In the unlikely event that this happens, what is the future of the bank? Will it remain afloat or go bankrupt? What will be history of the bank in ten years’ time, should this happen: that the bank ran into financial crisis while regional members try to save one helmsman?

There are insinuations that, post-COVID-19, China might step up its regional interests in Africa. If those interests extend to financial institutions, it will be one of the most egregious mistakes to give China any greater leverage in AfDB than it currently has, even if the motive is to spite the US. The experiences of countries in Europe recently should be a good guide as they are insisting that the stakes of China in their businesses must be kept to the barest minimum.

The question that comes to the fore is this: Is Africa now trying to have it both ways? So, if any of them raise any objection, would they be heard?

How did Africa get here after setting up a bank, then they gifted it to Asia, Middle East, Europe and America? And, what would other countries think of Africa’s reactions to the US?

One analyst said: “I really don’t know enough of the details. But, big picture, especially at this moment, financing in Africa in general and the ADB in particular needs this kind of on-going controversy over governance and transparency like a hole in the head. An internal inquiry, however exhaustive, was never going to have the credibility of an independent probe.”

The future image and credibility of the bank is very important. And external inquest would help in burnishing, not tarnishing, that image. If disallowed, a dark cloud of aspersion may hang precariously and dangerously on the bank for a long term as a bank where public confidence doesn’t matter so much as insiders’ judgment. It may affect the ratings of the bank henceforth and the prospects of getting more funds raised from countries outside Africa. The desperately needed development may therefore suffer needless setback.

So where is this heading to right now? “Well… three weeks is a long time in ADB politics. But it’s not good for Adesina, if only to have failed to prevent it reaching this point,” said one diplomatic source.

 

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Adeboye Sacks Top Redeemed Pastor For Sleeping With Member’s Wife

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The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has sacked Pastor Gideon Bakare, a pastor in one of the Akure, Ondo state branches for trying to have a canal knowledge of a member’s wife.

In a statement, RCCG spokesperson Olaitan Olubiyi said Bakare was sacked for attempted adultery and for putting the church in a bad light.

The statement read;

“The Redeemed Christian Church of God has excommunicated Mr Gideon Bakare and relieved him of all ministerial duties in the Mission.

“Bakare, who was an Assistant Pastor in the Church was recently accused of attempted act of adultery with a woman in her matrimonial home in Akure, Ondo State.

“The Church dissociated itself from such immoral act of Mr Bakare and described it as being completely contrary to the core values, doctrines, beliefs and practices of the RCCG and the undiluted word of God.

“The Church, after reviewing the report of her investigation, noted that by his conduct, Bakare has not only tainted his personal reputation but has portrayed the Church in a bad light.

”Mr Bakare has therefore been directed to return all official items in his custody and stay off all associated connections with the Mission with immediate effect.”

A video showed Pastor Bakare naked in the bedroom of a married female church member in Akure over the weekend.

The woman had played along and pretended she was consenting to the sexual act and had asked the pastor to strip before inviting her husband and others to the scene

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DSS arrests EFCC Acting Chairman, Magu for ‘questioning’

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

TheCable understands that DSS operatives arrived the EFCC headquarters in Abuja Monday afternoon and quietly whisked him away without creating any scene.

His arrest comes a few days after Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), accused the anti-graft czar of gross infractions.

The AGF asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Magu over some “weighty” allegations, including the diversion of recovered loot.

In addition to allegedly re-looting the recovered loot, Malami accused the acting EFCC chairman of insubordination and misconduct.

TheCable learnt the EFCC chief travelled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates without the authorisation of the president during the COVID-19 lockdown.

And when he was questioned, he said he went for an investigation.

He is also alleged to be living above his means.

In 2016, the senate declined to confirm the appointment of Magu as EFCC chairman after a DSS report indicted him of corruption.

The report read: “Magu is currently occupying a residence rented for N40m at N20m per annum. This accommodation was not paid [for] from the commission’s finances, but by one Umar Mohammed, air commodore retired, a questionable businessman who has subsequently been arrested by the secret service.

“For the furnishing of the residence, Magu enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed, to furnish the residence at the cost of N43m.”

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COURT JAILS UNION BANK HACKERS OVER N2.5BN FRAUD

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, has secured the conviction of one Abass Mohammed and a Bureau De Change, (BDC) operator, Ibrahim Saidu Jogal, who connived to hack into the Flexcube database of Union Bank and defrauded the bank of N2,550,000,000 (Two billion Five hundred and Fifty Million Naira).

The Commission received a petition alleging that fraudsters had hacked into the bank’s database and diverted the sum of N2,550,000,000. Investigation into the petition revealed that the said money was fraudulently credited into the accounts of mostly BDC operators, including one Jaxmine BDC, Gona BDC and Great Well Communication.

It was further revealed that Mohammed sourced for the account details of Jaxmine BDC from one of his friends, Lawal Ubah, who was a signatory to the account, and subsequently gave the details to one Salisu Liman (aka Zico), the ring leader of the syndicate. The sum of N450 million was then credited into the account.

Subsequently, the sum of N79 million was transferred from the account of Jaxmine BDC into the account of Digare BDC owned by Jogal for the purpose of buying $500,000. Further investigations revealed that Jogal only paid $80,000 to Mohammed and kept the balance of $420,000.

Jogal, investigations also revealed, said that he got information that the money was not genuine but fraudulent, thereby prompting Mohammed to open up to him that the money was stolen.

They were arraigned before Justice K.A. Jose of the State High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos on three-count charges bordering on conspiracy, retention and use of proceeds of crimunal conduct contrary to Section 331(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws No. 11, Vol 44 of Lagos State 2011.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, paving the way for the commencement of their trial.

In proving its case against them, the EFCC presented three witnesses – Vincent Agwu, a Union Bank official, and two investigators, Joseph Nkeson and Aliyu Abubakar. Several documents were also tendered in court by the prosecution.

Delivering judgment, Justice Jose found the defendants guilty on counts two and three, and discharged them on count one, which bordered on conspiracy to defraud. Mohammed was sentenced to a term of one year in prison.

The trial judge further ordered that the sum of $37,000 and $7,000 recovered from him by the EFCC should be handed over to Union Bank, while the car recovered from him should be sold and the proceeds given to the bank.

Justice Jose observed that Jogal showed no contrition, and failed to pay back a substantial sum of the money traced to him. Subsequently, he was sentenced to a term of three years, and ordered to return the sum of $220,000 and another $200,000 earlier recovered from him by the EFCC to Union Bank.

The judge also ordered that his property, whose title documents he gave to the Commission, should be sold and the proceeds handed over to the bank.

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