FOR the second year running, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership, has announced no winner for the Mo Ibrahim Prize.

The 2010 award Prize Committee should be commended for its courage in admitting, “There had been no new candidates or new developments, therefore no selection of a winner had been made”.

It is a sad development that further confirms the continuing slide in African leadership. The continent has suffered from the consequences of bad leaders. The bad news from Mo Ibrahim Foundation is that there are no leaders in sight.

Last year, the Prize Committee considered former Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Ghana’s John Kufuor but could not select a winner from the trio.

Corruption and flagrant disregard for democratic tenets are hallmarks of African leaders. They turn the state into their private estates, unwilling to leave office and deploy uncommon expertise to looting public resources. The few who try to play by the rules stick to minimal standards that cannot meet the qualifications for any serious award.

The inability of African leaders to draw decent lines between their private conducts and matters of the state have resulted in crisis in many African countries some leading to wars.
Mo Ibrahim, the founder and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said, “The Board respects the decision of the Prize Committee not to select a winner for the 2010 prize. The Prize Committee, which is independent from the Board, is a unique repository of experience and expertise.

“Whether there is a winner or not, the purpose of the foundation is to challenge those in Africa and across the world to debate what constitutes excellence in leadership.

“The standards set for the Prize winner are high, and the number of potential candidates each year is small. So it is likely that there will be years when no Prize is awarded. In the current year, no new candidates emerged.”

Mo Ibrahim himself must be sharing concerns about the quality of African leadership and the fact that the generous incentives that the award offers do not motivate our leaders to distinguish themselves.

One of the initiatives to improve leadership in future is the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships, a selective programme designed to identify and prepare the next generation of outstanding African leaders by providing them with mentoring opportunities in key multilateral institutions.

Leaders may not be in sight until the Foundation’s new initiatives yield results.

The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African Head of State or Government who served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution and left office in the last three years.

It consists of US$5 million over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. The Foundation would consider granting a further $200,000 per year, for 10 years, towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the winner. Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan chairs the Prize Committee, which comprises seven eminent individuals.

Former African leaders should be ashamed that for the second year running, none of them has been found worthy of the award.

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