Sad: This Foundation Cannot Find Any Deserving Recipient For Its 2015 Prize For African Leadership

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is meant to award the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership yearly, but for the fifth time in its ten years of existence, the award has been unable to find a deserving recipient.

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Yesterday, the foundation announced that there was no winner for the 2015 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

Previously, there were no winners in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013 respectively, so we are left wondering if a deserving recipient for this award is really that difficult to find in our continent.

The Prize Committee failed to find any suitable winner including considerations of Heads of State or Governors who have left their office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated terms. Commenting on the decision of the Prize Committee, Mo Ibrahim, said;

“When we launched the Prize ten years ago, we deliberately set a very high bar. We want the Prize to shine a spotlight on outstanding leadership to provide role models right across society, as well as supporting Laureates to continue to serve the continent by sharing their wisdom and experience.”

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Their list of past winners does support this claim considering the Ibrahim Prize which has been awarded four times since its launch with one inaugural honorary laureate has featured;

  • The inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007- Nelson Mandela
  • The award recipient in 2007- President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique
  • The award recipient in 2008- President Festus Mogae of Botswana
  • The award recipient in 2011- President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde
  • The award recipient in 2014- President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia

What therefore does the failure to come up with a deserving recipient for 2015 say about the continent’s leaders? Some are questioning the decision by the Foundation and offering up names of former Presidents like; Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan as potential and strong contenders who have shown commendable leadership qualities during their tenure.

Some others however state that there is a leadership and governance crisis across the continent and obviously, the independent Prize Committee, which is chaired by Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim agree with this second group.

Do you think that the award committee was right in its decision? Is Africa really full of only sit-tight, self serving leaders who are undeserving of an award celebrating exemplary leadership? It is a sobering thought indeed.