THE Mo Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership has given a damning verdict on the quality of African leaders with its decision not to award the 2008 leadership prize.

Former president of Botswana Ketumile Masire, speaking for the selection committee said, “The prize committee could not select a winner”.

The prize, the largest individual annual award in the world, goes to a democratically elected former leader from a sub-Saharan African country who has left office in the last three years.

The prize recognises good governance with the winner receiving $5-million over 10 years, which goes into supporting public causes  he backs,  plus $200, 000 a year for life.

From the criteria for selecting winners, 11 African leaders who left office in 2006, 2007 or 2008 – including Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria – were eligible.

The board did not give the reasons for not selecting someone because of the confidential terms of its decision-making process.

The prize, named after Sudan-born businessman Mo Ibrahim, was first given in 2007, to former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, followed by Festus Mogae, Botswana’s former head of state, last year. South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is an honorary laureate.

With the aim to improve African governance and promote excellent leadership, the decision not to award a prize, this year should set African leaders thinking.

This decision is in line with Masire’s statement that the prize board noted progress in some countries while “noting with concern recent setbacks”.

The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, using data from 2007 and 2008, released its third annual report on leadership in Africa, for the first time measuring all 53 countries against 84 criteria.

Africa’s top 10 performers were Mauritius (1st), Cape Verde (2nd) Seychelles (3rd) Botswana (4th), South Africa (5th), Namibia (6th), Ghana (7th), Tunisia (8th), Lesotho (9th) and Sao Tome and Principe (10th).

Mauritius, with 82.8 points, has topped the list of Africa’s best-governed nations for the third year in a row, followed by Cape Verde (78) and the Seychelles (77.1), while war-ravaged Somalia (15.2) again landed at the bottom.

Nigeria placed 35th, scoring lower than the continental and West African averages, true reflections of the state of Nigeria and her leadership. In West Africa, Cape Verde is first and the duo of Sierra Leone, just coming out of a war, and drought-stricken Niger Republic, out-performed Nigeria. None of these countries has a fraction of the resources of Africa’s most populous country.

The index measures the delivery of public goods and services to citizens by government and non-state actors across 84 indicators of governance. Those governance indicators are grouped in four overall categories: Safety and Security, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development.

All the 53 countries in Africa were then ranked according to their total scores across the categories.

Nigerian leaders have a lot to do to get Nigeria working. We cannot attain global competitiveness when we are minions in Africa.


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