Mahamadou Issoufou, president of Niger, has been awarded the $5m Ibrahim African management prize in recognition of what the judging committee known as his “distinctive management after inheriting one of many world’s poorest economies [and] dealing with seemingly insurmountable challenges”.
Niger, with the fastest-growing inhabitants in Africa, is broadly thought of a fragile state with a number of safety issues, an extended historical past of coups, and desertification aggravated by local weather change.
The Ibrahim prize committee judged that Issoufou, who will step down this yr after a run-off election to find out his successor was held final month, had introduced a level of stability and growth in troublesome circumstances. Above all, he had abided by the constitutional two-term restrict, it stated.
Throughout his decade in workplace, in line with the prize quotation, Niger’s output grew from $8.7bn to $12.9bn, elevating per capita earnings by 16 per cent. Infrastructure was constructed, human growth indicators akin to baby and maternal mortality improved, and the variety of folks dwelling in poverty fell from 48 per to 40 per cent, it stated.
“One of many essential issues was not altering the structure to remain in energy,” stated Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana and chair of the prize committee in an interview. “We have now had the problem of African leaders altering the structure and altering legal guidelines to go well with themselves.”
Mogae, a former prize recipient, added: “We’re conscious about the context during which we made this prize, the challenges dealing with this nation. He did one of the best [he could] in troublesome circumstances.”
The Ibrahim prize goals to reward good management in a continent the place democracy has drifted in recent times and the place politicians are typically held in well-liked contempt. Issoufou’s resolution to not contest elections contrasts with latest occasions in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Uganda the place the structure was amended or reinterpreted to permit the incumbent to face once more.
The $5m Ibrahim prize is open to democratically elected leaders who step down after their mandated time period and who’re seen to have improved governance, social welfare and dwelling requirements.
It has been awarded six occasions because it began in 2007, with the final award given to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia, profitable in 2017. In years when no chief is judged a worthy recipient — eight out of fourteen to this point — the prize shouldn’t be awarded.
As president, Issoufou was thought of an ally of the west within the battle in opposition to jihadist insurgencies, though in Niger his resolution to permit the French and US army to function within the nation introduced criticism in addition to reward.
Opponents have accused Issoufou of being authoritarian and of not doing sufficient to broaden alternative past a slim elite. In a 2018 interview he outlined democracy as order and liberty. “Order with out freedom is dictatorship. Freedom with out order is anarchy,” he stated.
Niger, a landlocked nation of 24m folks located within the semi-arid Sahel area, faces grave safety threats spilling over from neighbours, together with Boko Haram from north-east Nigeria, al-Qaeda within the Islamic Maghreb from Algeria and jihadist insurgencies from Mali. Below Issoufou it suffered a number of terrorist assaults, however was much less affected by militant exercise than neighbours together with Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya.
Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese businessman whose eponymous basis seeks to advertise good governance, has spoken a couple of worrying slippage in democracy in a lot of Africa. Ibrahim, who shouldn’t be on the prize committee, welcomed the award, calling Issoufou “an excellent chief” who has met “a few of the area’s hardest challenges with dedication and respect”.