Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger, has been awarded the $5 million Ibrahim African Leadership Prize.
The award is an acknowledgment of Issoufou’s “exceptional leadership after inheriting one of the world’s poorest economies [and] facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.”
“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,” said Festus Mogae, the head of the Prize Committee and former president of Botswana.
“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. After careful consideration, the Committee finds President Issoufou a worthy winner of the Ibrahim Prize,” he added.
Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which is awarded based on criteria of good governance, democratic election and respect of terms limits.”
Issoufou will step down this year after a run-off election to determine his successor was held last month. He is considered a stabilizing force in the country. The prize-winner has also be praised for stepping down after the two five-year terms instead of audaciously grappling for power.
The Ibrahim Prize is a $5 million award paid over ten years and “ensures that the African continent continues to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent,” per the website.
The award is named after Sudanese-British billionaire businessman Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim, who sold telecommunications company Celtel in 2005 for $3.4 billion. He then went on to create the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to encourage better governance in Africa, as well as launching the Mo Ibrahim Index to evaluate nations’ performance.
“I’m delighted that the Prize Committee has made President Mahamadou Issoufou an Ibrahim Prize Laureate,” said Ibrahim in a statement. “
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 recognized as an example of exceptional leadership and I hope his legacy will inspire generations of African leaders.”