Akinwumi Adesina of Nigeria will be the eighth President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), after winning in a tight race that was expected to be drawn out given the calibre of candidates and the regional interests at play.
Cape Verde’s Cristina Duarte, Chad’s Kordje Bedoumra and Mr Adesina were the only remaining candidates in the race which has surprised many for the way shareholders dropped five candidates in quick succession.
“I’m honoured and humbled by support I’ve received and the confidence placed in me. Our best days are ahead,” Mr Adesina tweeted minutes after the announcement was made.
Mr Adesina and Ms Duarte were considered strong candidates even before the voting began but the endurance of Mr Bedoumra remained an element of surprise in the race.
Thomas Sakala of Zimbabwe who was fronted by the South African Development Community bowed out less than 40 minutes after Tunisia’s Jaloul Ayed was eliminated in the afternoon session.
Three candidates – Sufian Ahmed of Ethiopia, Birama Sidibe of Mali and Sumara Kamara of Sierra Leone were eliminated in the morning session.
Mr Ahmed is the candidate who was being supported by East African countries with the exception of Tanzania, a member of SADC which was supporting Zimbabwean Thomas Sakala as a bloc.
Mr Adesina enjoys the backing of Nigeria and to some extent Ecowas, a constituency which Ms Duarte, who was backed by mostly non-African shareholders of the bank – had also courted.
Mr Bedoumra, a former AfDB vice president, is said to enjoy the backing of francophone Africa for which he was the only one remaining in the race.
Nigeria President elect Muhammadu Buhari who will be installed Friday had taken the campaign to have Mr Adesina, an agriculture development specialist to Ecowas and SADC, two crucial voting blocs.
Mr Adesina will succeed Dr Kaberuka who steps down from the bank on September 1, this year after serving two terms.
Dr Kaberuka took the reins of AfDB in 2005 with a commanding mandate of 78 per cent from the shareholders during a special general meeting after a stalemate with a Nigerian candidate during the annual assembly.