Niger’s outgoing president Mahamadou Issoufou was on March 8 named the 2020 winner of Mo Ibrahim African Leadership Prize.
He wins it after a two-year hiatus during which the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said no former leader merited the award. He takes over from Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who last won it in 2017.
Since its inception in 2007, the prize has not been awarded for eight years – 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Issoufou with his feat becomes the sixth African leader to be awarded the $5 million prize dedicated to African leaders who enhance democratic governance by leaving office when their tenure in office expires.
Which other African leaders have won the prize in the past? GhanaWeb looks back from when it was first awarded in 2007.
1. President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007) and President Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
According to the organizers, Chissano won it for “his role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy.”
2. President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008)
Rationale for selection: “President Mogae’s outstanding leadership has ensured Botswana’s continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic which threatened the future of his country and people.”
3. President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011)
Pedro Pires’ crowning was for his role in transforming Cape Verde into a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity.
4. President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014)
“During the decade of Hifikepunye Pohamba’s Presidency, Namibia’s reputation has been cemented as a well-governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights.”
5. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (2017)
“In very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow.”
6. President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger (2020)
For his efforts to economic development of his country while working for regional stability, as well as his engagement to limit himself to two terms, leading to the first ever democratic transition of power in Niger.
What Festus Mogae, Chair of the Prize Committee and former President of Botswana said:
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.
Today, the number of Nigeriens living below the poverty line has fallen to 40%, from 48% a decade ago. While challenges remain, Issoufou has kept his promises to the Nigerien people and paved the way for a better future.
After careful consideration, the Committee finds President Issoufou a worthy winner of the Ibrahim Prize.
About the Ibrahim Prize
The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award paid over ten years. It 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 their invaluable work in other civic roles on the continent.
The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are all former African Executive Heads of State or Government who have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.
I consider this award an encouragement to continue to think and act in such a way that promotes democratic values and good governance, not only in #Niger, but in Africa and around the world. #MIFPrize
— Issoufou Mahamadou (@IssoufouMhm) March 8, 2021