Is Goodluck Jonathan Good Enough For The Mo Ibrahim Prize?
VENTURES AFRICA – A couple of days ago, African business mogul, Mo Ibrahim, lavished praises on Nigeria’s outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, for delivering on his promise of a free and fair presidential election, and honourably accepting the outcome even as it was his defeat. This special recognition of Jonathan by the proprietor of the Mo Ibrahim foundation has raised the possibility of the Nigerian president receiving the renowned Mo Ibrahim prize for governance.
The Mo Ibrahim prize celebrates African heads of government who perform creditably in office and do not seek to entrench themselves in power. It grants the recipient $5million over ten years and guarantees a life time payment of $200,000 thereafter. The most recent winner of the prize is Namibia’s former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, international acclaimed for strengthening his country’s democratic values and socio-economic equality. President Jonathan, by ensuring credible polls, submitting to its outcome albeit against him, certifies the basic criteria for the award.
While the outgoing president stands out in enabling, or, at least, not inhibiting, the advancement of Nigeria’s electoral culture, he struggled to achieve the same impact in several other sectors of the society. These sectors- primarily the economy and security– constitute the factors that may deny him Mo Ibrahim’s bounty, if he were to be considered.
President Jonathan’s rebasing of the economy, which revealed Nigeria as Africa’s largest by GDP, helped scale up investor interest in the country. However, despite the increased flow of foreign direct investment, his government was unable to match economic growth with development. His government is accused of wastefulness and profligacy, evidence of which is its inability make good of savings during the years of oil boom. Jonathan’s image is also hard hit by allegations of corruption involving members of his cabinet, as well as parastatals and corporations under his executive purview. These issues, joined by the unsolved problem of power, massive unemployment, and widening socio-economic inequality, deny him the economic legacy that would have pushed his case for the Mo Ibrahim prize.
As with the economy, Goodluck, despite pouring in a good amount of money, struggled to develop the security apparatus of the country in the face of a spike in terrorism and incessant kidnapping. His government’s inability to ensure peace and stability, as well as accusations of its insensitivity to the plight of victims of terror, like the Chibok girls, led to popular disaffection against his rule. As proven by his defeat at the polls, not even the military’s recent triumphs against the boko haram militants has shed the perception of him as an inept president. However, while Jonathan’s inability to rein in the insecurity in the land will be a stumbling block to his consideration for the Mo Ibrahim prize, his calm reaction to the result of the tense election and strong invocation for his supporters to accept the victory of his rival, averted a post-election violence–in the scale of 2011, and made him a legend in Nigeria’s history books. This singular act is Jonathan’s biggest propellant for the prize. But will it be enough?
Although President Jonathan has received local and international praise for his election acts, it is improbable that it will win him the award. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has a reputation of awarding its prize to leaders with salient and incontrovertible record of good and effective governance, the reason only five leaders have received the prize in its 9 years of existence. Picking Jonathan would be so controversial, it could hurt the credibility of the prize.
Article compiled by Ventures Africa