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Africa so unlucky – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics


Editorial

 

The debilitating political leadership that straddles Africa has been further exposed by the quality of winners of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Worth $5 million, the prize is paid over 10 years, and was set up to encourage African leaders to raise the bar of governance, by developing their country, strengthening democracy and protecting the rule of law.

The prize also aims at helping the continent to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders, even when they have left office, by enabling them to continue their invaluable work in other civic roles on the continent. President Mahamadou Issoufou, who will be stepping down as President of Niger Republic next month, won the 2020 prize. According to

Issoufou’s citation, the number of Nigeriens living below the poverty line has fallen to 40 percent, from 48 percent a decade ago when he took over.

For the award committee, that is a huge achievement, perhaps considering the dearth of quality leadership in the continent. In the words of former Botswana President Festus Mogae, chair of the prize committee: “In the face of the most severe political and economic issues, including violent extremism and increasing desertification, President Mahamadou Issoufou has led his people on a path of progress.” But of note, unless that progress is accelerated, it may take about four decades to raise the remaining 40% Nigeriens, out of extreme poverty.

Looking across the continent, especially the sub-Sahara Africa, it is disheartening that many countries still have such huge number below poverty line, whereas countries in other continents are striving to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Of course, if the Ibrahim prize were to rely on achieving the MDGs, which nations across the world, including African countries, elected to achieve by 2015, there may be no winners in many years.

The MDGs lofty goals are: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development. So, in essence, President Mahamadou has been rewarded for reducing the poverty index by  eight percent, while 40% are still living in extreme poverty, and the MDG goals far off.

Of course, we congratulate Issoufou for winning the coveted Ibrahim prize, but we urge African leaders to raise their leadership standards, if the continent would not continue to be the laggard in the world – a fact confirmed by the sparse winners of the Ibrahim Leadership prize over the years. Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the prize, in its 14 years, and he joins Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (2017), Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007).

In essence, to become an Ibrahim Prize laureate is a tall order for most African leaders. Perhaps, if there is no such prize, the few oasis of performance may not be there. But there are those who hold the view that what is plaguing Africa cannot be solved by such a prize. The argument being that the process of electing (or selecting) leaders is so fraught with challenges that the right calibre of persons with right leadership acumen don’t get elected.

There is also the argument that with corruption plaguing governmental activities, many who get elected help themselves with so much state resources that the $5 million prize is inconsequential. Many past African leaders are reputed to be richer than the country they plundered. Again, because of the duplicity of leadership in Africa, outgoing leaders do all in their power to entrench birds of the same feather, thereby entrenching their type in power.

But still, we join other well-meaning persons to thank Mo Ibrahim for instituting the prize, to encourage those who wish to distinguish themselves in service of their fatherland. The opportunity it offers should be an added incentive to such persons who wish to govern well. We also urge the foundation to consider instituting prizes in other fields, which impact the African development index. No doubt, there are many who influence the growth of Africa, even though they are never presidents.

Above all, with or without awards, African leaders should turn a new leaf, and offer quality leadership to their countries. In nearby Côte d’Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara is about to plunge his country into chaos, because his preferred successor suddenly died. Senegal, which was an oasis of stability, is now on the boil, because of abuses by her leaders. Nigeria, after 21 years of democracy is on the boil because of the challenges of leadership.

So, if we may ask, why do African leaders offer poor leadership to their countries?



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