Former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou wins $5 million African leadership prize

An award scheme called the Ibrahim prize for Achievement in African Leadership founded by Telecom tycoon, Mo Ibrahim has rewarded the former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufo for his exhibition of excellence in leadership after inheriting one of the world’s poorest economies.

The scheme which was purposely established among other things to recognize and celebrate former African executive leaders who, under challenging circumstances developed their countries and strengthened democracy and human right, settled on Issoufou for his contribution towards efforts to curb terrorism in the region and also for the massive economic progress he presided over in the country.

Former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae who chairs the prize committee said in eulogy that, “in the face of the most severe political and economic issues, including violent extremism and increasing desertification, President Mahamadou Issoufou has led his people on a path of progress.”

He added that, “today, 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.”

In terms of his contribution towards democracy, Mahamadou Issoufo was well-known to be that African President who does not have too much interest in long-serving leadership like his counterparts such as Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Alpha Conde of Guinea and Ivorian Alassane Ouattara.

It could be recalled that, Mahamadou Issoufou was first elected democratically in 2011 after years of military rule and re-elected in 2016 where he voluntarily stepped down after the two constitutionally recognized terms to ensure a peaceful transition of power to a democratically elected President.

Founder of the scheme, Mo Ibrahim said “I’m 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. 

Commenting on the award, Issoufou said, “I consider this award an encouragement to continue to think and act in such a way that promotes democratic values and good governance, not only in Niger, but in Africa and around the world.”

This win makes Mahamadou Issoufou the sixth to receive this award since its inception. The likes of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde, Festus Mogae of Botswana, and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique were all recognized, celebrated and rewarded. Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

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