The 2019 Mo Ibrahim Governance Prize was never Won for its Narrow Scope, No Africa’s Poverty of Leadership

2019 Mo Ibrahim Governance Prize

Somalilandsun: Since the inception of the Mo Ibrahim African governance prize, the number of years it has never been won is equal to the number of years it has been won. For example, the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Prize was also never won; this is as per the official announcement made by its founder and Chairman, Mo Ibrahim in March 2020.

This means that there was no ex-president from Africa that qualified for the Prize in 2019.The implications are that apart from five former Presidents that won the prize in the past, the remaining all ex-presidents in Africa could not meet the criteria to fit for the award of the Prize. Mo Ibrahim Prize was established two decades ago by Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese born British investor in Telecommunication .The prize is strictly focused on the political perspective of governance and hence only former African presidents are the only ones to qualify for nomination.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize criteria look for symptomatic qualities like propensity towards representative democracy, concern for gender mainstreaming, respect for the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social inclusivity, economic inclusivity, proved track record in good management of national security during election times through fair electoral competition and voluntary handover of presidential office by the incumbent in the situation that the incumbent is defeated , as well as declining from  corrupt use of  the office of the president to accumulate riches. Thus, in a nutshell no former President from Africa was able to meet the above criteria for the Prize in 2019. But this does not mean that Africa is poor of good leaders, it is the Mo Ibrahim Prize that is only focused on political-executive perspectives of governance, while ignoring the most crucial variables of governance process.

Most unfortunate, is the parochial version in which Mo Ibrahim Prize is focused on the symptoms of Africa’s political challenges but not the causes of recurrent fragility in political governance of African States. What I mean in this juncture is that Mo Ibrahim Prize does not appreciate ideological explanation of regular political volatilities in Africa; neither does the Prize also embrace technical explanation of the political phenomenon of intriguing power struggles in Africa. The Mo Ibrahim Prize is only focused on the moralist perspectives of the Presidency as a panacea to Africa’s political ups and downs. Yet facts from critical inquiry into technicality of political process authoritatively reveal that morality in practical politics is some type of wistfulness, it is impudent social sham and performing political cosmetics that does not have rational value or capacity to enable any one to achieve the primary objectives of power struggle, a social space substantially dominating the governance process in Africa’s political civilization.

This calls for technical audit to be done on the variables of feasibility as well as political logic of the Mo Ibrahim African Governance Prize. The audit is to be done under the light of modern theory of power, which argues that an executive on its own cannot produce a good system of representational governance, but good system of representational governance can produce a good and responsible executive. Thence, needless to say that snobbish rewarding or punishing of a former President is irresponsible meddling with symptoms of failing or well doing political system, while interchangeably keeping a blind eye and wearing the blinkers on to the causes of the observed un-desired harmful weather of the ever changing political climate of Africa. There is vibrant truth in active history of world politics for testifying that both capitalist and socialist political civilizations as well as post-colonial political states can only afford to have a good and responsible President if only they have other well working arms of the State like; very strong pluralist multi-party culture,  strong and competent media, less and less number of nationalist tribes,  the politically educated electorate, strong civil society, well educated and non-officious civil service, an independent judiciary, unfettered parliament, organized corporate sector, independent electoral institutions , strong culture communication technology in political interactions , the  modern command structure of well educated defense forces, the Intelligence,  flexible organization of  government, a strong revolutionary bourgeoisie class , and as wel as an ideologically productive intellectual class that is not victim of utopia nor sheepish slavery to non-liberal fundamentalism of religion , tribe and personality cult .  Thus, the above is the list of arms of the modern State. And so far, the most present viability test and  relevance test of the utility of  the strong presence of above dimensions of arms of the modern State has been seen in the USA where the American system of government comfortably showcases indelible capacity to contain the high-class political melodrama as perpetrated by  the mediocrity in its executive arm of government .

Thus, this informs us that a good Prize in recognition of  political service to the society should not only focus on what the president does, but should focus on all the political players ranging from  individuals and institutional players in the process of good governance. Hence, the organization of Mo Ibrahim Prize has technical duty to widen its scope of recognition, to bring into its focus the contribution to good governance by individuals and institutions working beyond political morality of the executive in African politics. After widening the scope, the committee of Mo Ibrahim Prize must also consider the question of psychology and political decay, not only in Africa, but in any other part of the world for proper understanding.

Post modern  researchers in politics,management,psychology,international relations and military science  have always shown that corrupt leaders  do corruption out of rational choices, in fact technical explanation of corruption is based on the  concept of prisoner’s dilemma as taught  in  Economics and Political science  under the broad decision making model of  game theory. In the theory, corruption is explained as a rational move by a political player to maximize gains personal and minimize personal losses in a social game known as power politics. All acts of corruption are done with an intention to cement the economic power, and economic power is the inviolable sub-structure for strong political power, and in turn political power is the highest value on earth. Given such economic foundations that a political leader can harvest through corruption, it is therefore not easy to attract  a politician to move away from corrupt politics  without inducing him or her with equal amount  of economic  power. Unfortunately, the amount of Money that Mo Ibrahim Prize gives the winning political moralist is less than what some politicians make through corrupt deals in a week.  Unlike the deals that come with the political office, Mo Ibrahim Prize is a discouragingly a  probabilistic reward, and yet no normal human being in a capitalist civilization will forego the current status of becoming a dollar millionaire to chase a moralist course of politics leading to a willow-o-the-wisp of probalisitic gain in form of a Prize. This is the moral pith in the Mo Ibrahim Prize. The pith with two holes, small size of the Prize money and probalisitic nature of the Prize ; the two holes making Mo Ibrahim Prize so pithy that it cannot enforce contemplated  moral consciousness among the top-notch bourgeoisie practitioners of African politics.

Contemporary political outlook should not fail to glean at pelt of facts supporting the reality that Africa is no longer in poverty of good leadership; instead it is rich in good leadership amid poverty of capitalist advantages. The current Africa is blessed with a lot of well thought leaders that are contingently good, though bad ones don’t miss; just the same way we have good leaders and bad leaders in all the five continents making the land mass of the earth, this is a situation that Mo Ibrahim has deliberately ignored, but only to embrace traditional condemnation of Africa as land with no leaders worth his Prize. Mo goofed; Africa has leaders if only one can choose to see. But still choosing not to see them is a philosophical right executed in poverty of philosophy about governance in Africa in the era of tyranny of capital beating good manners hands down in the game of expansionist politics.Vivam.

By-Alexander Opicho

(From, Lodwar, Kenya)

Mo Ibrahim Foundation

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is awarded to a former Executive Head of State or Government by an independent Prize Committee composed of eminent figures, including two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates About Mo Ibrahim Foundation