For the second year running, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has said it failed to find a winner for its prestigious Mo Ibrahim $5 million Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
The foundation, which awards the prize to democratically elected African leaders who have left office in the previous three years at the end of their constitutional terms, said it found no one deserving of the award.
The selection Committee chaired by Tanzanian diplomat and former OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim made the announcement on Tuesday saying that none of the recently retired heads of state had merited the prize.
The committee met with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s board before Dr. Salim released the statement saying:
”As I emphasize each year, a very high bar was deliberately set when the Prize was launched in 2006. We recognize and applaud the important contributions that many African leaders have made to change their countries for the better.”
“But the Prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition. After careful consideration, the Committee has decided not to award the Prize in 2016.”
The 2016 prize’s potential contenders were Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Ghana’s John Mahama, Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan.
Gambia’s Yahyah Jammeh, who stunned the world when he accepted defeat in a December election after 22 years in charge could have been a possible contender for the prize as well. His backtracking on giving up power that led him to be strong-handed by African leaders to vacate the position surely disqualified him.
The prize committee said none of those who left properly including those listed above had left a legacy worth rewarding.
That means that no one has won the supposed African Nobel Prize for Presidents, since 2015 when Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba was awarded for 2014.
Since its launch in 2006, the Mo Ibrahim Prize has only been awarded four times. Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Cape Verde’s Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires and the Namibian leader.
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.