By JIMOH IBRAHIM, OFR, CFR
LAGOS, Nigeria – Please wait a minute; it is about corporate governance! Yes, in a simple bank matter, and what is more, as Wolfensohn will say, corporate governance is about promoting corporate fairness, transparency, and accountability.
Every day we keep struggling on which of the rules of ethics or governance will secure corporate sustainability and profitability. The strategy is unending from its trajectory from the 1776 Adam Smith “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self -interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessity but of their advantages”
In 1932 we were inundated with the corporate governance of Berle and Means, which centered on the separation of ownership from the control that produces a condition where the interest of the owner and ultimate manager may, and often do diverge. Or desire to maximize shareholders’ value. And, could this be the desire of the Western block’s interest in AFDB?
We are no longer in the 1980 days of mergers and acquisitions. Or, Junk Bonds and poison pills, no one is interested in selling her shares in AFDB. (at least I do know that the Nigeria shares is not for sale!) it may be that the 1900 rise of institutional investors is the thinking of Donald Trump on corporate governance as a businessman.
The challenge with an institutional investor is the high cost of monitoring and the free-rider problem, liquidity versus dialogue, who own the institutional investor share, and who is the ultimate beneficiary of the shares in the end? Or the challenge of the company versus index investing, effective market hypothesis, portfolio diversification. Will individual action make a difference concerning AFDB ethical issues?
Or a case of rationale apathy or outright apathy ignorance, and what is the active oversight of the US going to add to AFDB? We left those issues to the events of the 1990s. A new challenge to corporate governance in the 2000s was the case of activism, Hedge Funds and Private equity—the 2010 issues of pooled Funds and stewardship cannot be wholly left out since trust is of a challenge.
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In 2020 we are not even sure what response to corporate governance will be with COVID-19. The problems of managing corporations from home include presenting an integrated fiduciary relationship between the management and the Board at a time when the Directors can be held responsible for the management’s actions and defense of I did not do what the management did can no longer stand!
Liberalism has a way of making everyone wealthy from the absolute gain advantage through collective action. The assurances of collective resources to pursue shared gains, so is the West, NATO, and North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It is against such authoritarian regimes that liberalism thinks, liberals will not go into war against one another, and the principle of collectivism and collaboration is in the best interest of economic harmony. Yes, the democratic peace theory and the campaign for the establishment of the liberal domestic democratic Government worldwide.
The US will not buy Nigeria oil, yet we are hoping for wealth creation among two liberals with absolute gains and collective interest. The US may cross the border to control Nigeria’s investment in AFDB and wishing to remove the Nigerian elected president in a bank in which Nigeria has the highest interest.
Has the relative gains principle of liberalism in international units strengthened US interest against Nigeria? The US aims at spreading liberal democracy than widening the zone of peace inhabited by world democratic states. Yet, the US is questioning the Nigerian appointment and praxis of a Nigerian bank president in a bank in which Nigeria has the highest shares!
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What is more of a nonsensical or absurd idea or talk of asking a President of AFDB to explain why he employed a female staff? He favors the highest shareholder, why his personal team is known to him before resuming to work, what he has to say about a staff that proceeded on medical leave on health ground after the bank physician-approved a health leave for him. What a nonsense. And notwithstanding the clearance from the Board room, a ‘powerful’ shareholder wants independent probe of the nonsense allegations!
In global governance, the US can violate global governance principles without question; all she needs to say is that she is doing so on a humanitarian grant! Adesina, a Human being need not have an altruistic feeling so conceived the US. If he invites a colleague who both of them made first class in the university to work with him, then the US must trump up a limited war at least for a start. The US power as a hegemon cannot be challenged. (Yet, international society is anarchic in the sense that there is no central Government) At least without the UN resolution, the US invaded Iraq for violation of the UN directives for ten years.
Where did the US get the authority to invade Iraq? Never worry, it is all about providing stability as hegemon to the new world, (But the US does not give central Government for the global society). Who invaded Panama in the face of article 2 (4) and (7) of the UN chapter? It is all in the protection of global governance principles, (maybe.) in Nigeria, out of the list of liberal states? Alexander Dumas ‘all for one and one for all’ now comes to the unwillingness of other western nations to protect Nigeria in the face of the US launch of the attack on Nigeria as one significant investment in Africa’s continent. Where did we go wrong!
The US indeed must be a powerful country battling so many issues at the same time. From the challenges of power shift, the WHO imbroglio, the debt crises, outdating infrastructure, and more importantly, COVID 19 and now to Femi Adesina’s query to explain why he employed Nigerians and allow a sick director to go on leave at AFDB.
Also, less I forget why he employed his personal staff like the chief of staff from people he already knows!! There is no specific allegation on fraud yet. The US is about launching a limited war in AFDB. Again, will the war be not, however, absolute?
If what is left from the remains of liberalism is anything relevant from the battle of COVID19 to Africa Development Bank (AFDB), then America will soon remember Winston Churchill’s golden worlds ‘to jaw jaw is always better than to war war! At least after the upcoming August re-election of Akinwunmi Adesina. Yes, liberalism is all about collaboration, collectivism, and interdependence. It is all about the harmony of interest. No one will forget too soon that liberalism is a normative theory that has its own phenomenon of what ought to be rather than what it is. And, it is not contending the fact that there are specific regulations in respect of what is in the procedural setting of AFDB rather than what it ought to be.
The processes and procedures of the African Development Bank are not for reforms (at least for now). The US should be applying the procedure after the change, not using what ought to be as Yasick for today’s judgment.
For unjust orders are inherently unstable because they invite rebellion by the people they oppress. We say that liberal theory is often prescriptive, recommending specific policy for just order not in the content of what is established to be known to us as AFDB rules of ethics coded and written praxis.