By Hakeem Adebumiti ….
The Mo Ibrahim’s prize for achievement in African leadership was announced few weeks ago and for the umpteenth time there was no clear cut winner for the coveted prize among past African leaders.
After reading the news, I remembered a discussion with a colleague at work recently on the personality of Mo himself and how best he could channel his God-given wealth to develop his home of descent – Sudan.
My colleague had argued that instead of Mo investing so much as high as 5 million dollars on African leaders, it would not be out of place if he directly spend or invest it in Sudan or some countries battling with economic challenges within the continent.
Since I was a novice about what he is saying I had to keep quiet but was quick to marshal out my point as well and told him I have heard so much about him and that he was at the anti-corruption conference held in London of recent alongside Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari among others.
So, who is Mo Ibrahim?
After the announcement that there was no winner in this year’s edition of the award, I was further challenged to do some googling about his personality and his rationale for setting up the African Leadership Achievement Prize.
There I found out that Mo is a Sudanese-British Billionaire with investment majorly in telecommunication and one of the most powerful persons in the United Kingdom.
The foundation he set up has been in the fore-front of sponsoring the African Leadership Prize which is geared towards celebrating leaders from the continent who had contributed immensely to the growth of their country.
From my research, one of the objectives of the prize is to ensure that Africa continues to benefit from the experience and expertise of exceptional leaders when they leave national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.
Aside the 5 million dollars prize, it is expected that such Leader will earn 200,000 dollars monthly for the rest of his or her life.
That’s breathtaking you will say? Well, it was borne out of the free will of the donor which aims at encouraging African Leaders to invest vigorously in the countries they govern while also ensuring that such legacies are sustainable.
That the monetary value of the Ibrahim’s Prize is higher than the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace is also an indication that Mo meant well for Leaders from his continent of origin.
Since the Prize commenced in 2007, it has been won by four African Leaders, the last being former President of Namibia, Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba, .
In 2007, President Joaquim Chissano from Mozambique won the inaugural Prize while South African Leader, Nelson Mandela was an honorary awardee for that year. The award was not given to any Leader in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and of late, 2015.
Will it elude past African leaders in 2016 as well? Only time will tell.
So what’s my concern about someone’s else intention to reward African leaders for their achievements? The answer is not far fetched.
Most of these leaders are rich already while some of them will get life pensions and allowances after leaving the office. Why I am not saying leaders who have contributed immensely to the development of their countries should not be celebrated, what the sponsors of the Ibrahim’s Prize need to do is to look at sectors in which such huge amount of money can be invested.
Sectors like Science and Technology, Universal Health Coverage, Water Supply, Electricity, Education, Agriculture and Research among others can be prioritized, thus taking the continent out of the quagmire facing it in terms of funding these sectors.
Some specialized higher institutions on the continent have been established for the purpose of research in Medicine, Agriculture and Science and Technology. Such institutions are lacking adequate funds and they need grants to further consolidate on the mandate of establishing them.
Mo Ibrahim need to review his mandate on the 5 million dollars African Leadership Prize by channeling it to the development of countries and institutions on the continent rather than her leaders.
Africa need more philanthropists like the Sudanese-British billionaire at the moment in order to take her rightful place among the comity of nations.
Ours is a continent that is rich with abundant resources and talents which will take up the world in the near future. Suffice it to say that most innovations and inventions we see in America and the West today were developed by African brains.
Hakeem-Adebumiti writes from Ondo State, Nigeria. Contact via twitter @hakeemadebumiti