News that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation couldn’t find any leader on the Continent to award its prestigious 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is a slap in the face of governance in Africa.
The pronouncement should sound a wakeup call to the current breed of leaders on the Continent to do more in the areas of improving living standards of their people, particularly health, education, women and youth empowerment in order to leave a legacy after retiring.
Liberia’s former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, first democratically-elected female president in Africa, was adjudged the last winner in 2017. There has been no winner for the last two years.
Reports say similar scenario occurred when former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba won the prize in 2014, it took three years to find a winner in President Sirleaf in 2017. In 2011, President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde was adjudged the winner; he followed President Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008 and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007). Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
Prize Committee Chair Festus Mogae says, “The Ibrahim Prize recognises truly exceptional leadership in Africa, celebrating role models for the continent. It is awarded to individuals who have, through the outstanding governance of their country, brought peace, stability and prosperity to their people. Based on these rigorous criteria, the Prize Committee could not award the Prize in 2019.”
This a challenge for current African leaders, as the Ibrahim Prize is said to be the largest annually awarded prize in the world, consisting of US$5 million over ten years. How could the entire Continent allow such recognition slipped away?
Africa needs people-centered leaders who can lift the next generation of Africans from hunger, diseases, illiteracy and misery. Leadership should not be just about winners taking all, dinning and pillaging national resources, while losers sit and watch in dejection.
Africa needs a revolution on governance that would promote peace, stability, unity, and democratic leadership. African leaders such aspire for standards in leadership.
Among others, the Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates African leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries, lifted people out of poverty and paved the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity; highlights exceptional role models for the continent; and ensures that the African continent continues to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.
We throw out a direct challenge to all current leaders on the Continent to endeavor to govern their people, considering these yardsticks, which inevitably portray a very positive image of Africa.