Former Niger President, Mohamadou Issoufou, who championed Africa’s cause for a continental free trade area, has emerged winner of the 2020 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in good leadership, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said on Monday.
An independent Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, run by Sudanese telecommunications enterpreneur, Mohamed Ibrahim, said its award to the ex-Nigerien President of US$5 million would help improve civil governance.
President Issoufou served two five-year terms as President of Niger from 2011 to 2020.
He is the sixth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership.
The Ibrahim Prize aims to distinguish exceptional leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and protected the rule of law for the shared benefit of their people.
In its citation, the Prize Committee praised President Issoufou’s exceptional leadership after inheriting one of the world’s poorest economies, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Throughout his time in office, he has fostered economic growth, shown unwavering commitment to regional stability and to the constitution, and championed African democracy.
Announcing the decision, 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 Issoufou has led his people on a path of progress.
“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.”
President Issoufou was first democratically elected in 2011, following many years of military rule in Niger.
He was elected for a second term in 2016 and stepped down at the end of this mandate, demonstrating his clear respect for the constitution.
Data from the 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) underline President Issoufou’s achievements.
During his 10 years as President, Niger has made progress in multiple areas, including improving in all four sub-categories of Human Development.
At the end of the decade, Niger ranked 28 out of 54 countries in the IIAG. It is among the 10 most improved African countries in strengthening socioeconomic opportunities for women.
On learning the outcome of the Prize Committee’s deliberations, Mo Ibrahim said: “I am delighted that the Prize Committee has made President Mahamadou Issoufou an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. He is an outstanding leader who has worked tirelessly for the people of Niger, meeting some of the region’s toughest challenges with determination and respect. I am proud to see Issoufou recognised as an example of exceptional leadership and I hope his legacy will inspire generations of African leaders.”
President Issoufou joins President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (2017), President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), President Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007), all of them Ibrahim Prize Laureate. President Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award paid over 10 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. (PANA/NAN)