SIR â€” A new panel has been named to search for a retired African President to be awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. I pity the panelists!
The new prize, announced last October, will reward former African heads of government who have left office in the last three years and have demonstrated exemplary leadership.
The lucky winner gets $5m over 10 years. Headed by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the panel has very eminent citizens. It includes AÃ¯cha Bah Diallo, former education minister in Guinea, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister of Nigeria, Salim Salim, former Organisation for African Unity chief, Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Mary Robinson, former Irish president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Cornered by a BBC interviewer on Monday morning whom they would be looking at, Okonjo-Iweala was hard-pressed for names. She said they were looking at â€˜someone like Mandelaâ€™ â€” Nelson Mandela. That is the problem. There are no presidents like Mandela.
Not in Africa! African presidents are corrupt dictators dressed in democratic coats. I would advise that the fund be widened to other areas.
Look at the nobel winners from Africa. they were not presidents (except de Klerk). Wangari Maathai is a good example.
she made a difference planting trees and improving womenâ€™s lives. And more importantly, the money is unlikely to induce those ruling to behave any better. A typical African president steals more than the $5m on offer. That is small change for most of them.
There are no presidents like Mandela in Africa!