Akinwumi Adesina: How Atiku contributed to my emergence as AfDB president

Mary Ugbodaga

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, contributed immensely to his emergence as head of the continental finance institution.

Adesina said this during his opening speech at the 12th commencement ceremony of American University of Nigeria (AUN), Adamawa state on Saturday.

The AfDB president described Atiku as a benefactor, mentor, “big brother”, and friend.

He said: “Congratulations your excellency, for your incredible passion, your dedication and commitment to building the future generations…helper of other people’s destinies.


“Before I proceed, I would like to say that when I was running for election to be president of the African Development Bank, I needed help from all sides.

“President Jonathan had nominated me to be the candidate for Nigeria, then President Buhari and I remember the evening that General Abdulsalami (former Nigerian head of state) called me and said ‘Well you know you’re gonna need help, especially in the Southern Africa region to be able to win this election’.

“I said ‘sir, where I’m I going to get the help from?’, he said ‘you need to go and see his excellency, Atiku Abubakar'”.


Adesina said Muhammadu Buhari, including former heads of state of Nigeria, such as Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo, endorsed Atiku to lobby for him as an ideal candidate to lead the institution.

“And the vice-president (Atiku) did not hesitate. He took me, flew me on his jet, and went to South Africa to see the president of South Africa (Jacob Zuma).

“I had only five minutes to make my case and he (Atiku) was standing right beside me.

“I made the case and I remember, the president of South Africa looked at me and said ‘I think I have in front of me the future president of the AfDB’.

“I want to publicly thank you your excellency, because without that journey and helping my destiny, I actually won’t be president of the African Development Bank.

“So I want to say thank you very much sir for that journey that you took me to South Africa.”

Adesina is the eighth elected AfDB president. He was first sworn in to the position on May 28, 2015, and then re-elected in August 2020.

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