By Haruna Gimba
The former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, last night accepted the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership at a special Leadership Ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda.
Speaking to guests from Rwanda and around the world, President Sirleaf said: “I’m honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
“I receive this distinction on behalf of the many women and men who helped to navigate the profound complexities of the post-conflict country that is Liberia.
“As the first woman to receive this award, it is my hope that women and girls across Africa will be inspired to break through barriers, and push back on the frontiers of life’s possibilities.”
The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is a $5 million award paid over 10 years, and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.
Presenting the Prize to President Sirleaf, Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the independent Prize Committee, said Madame Sirleaf embodies the type of role model the prize is intended to honour.
“It recognises not good leaders – of which Africa has many, but truly exceptional figures, who, by their nature, are rare.
“We are looking for leaders who leave their country in a far better state than when they took office, who have strengthened the trust of their fellow citizens in state and leadership, and who have built a strong legacy.”
Praising President Sirleaf, President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, said her contribution spans way beyond Liberia.
“The people of Côte d’Ivoire, for example, will never be indebted enough to her. During the post-election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, President Sirleaf was a constant voice of moderation, receiving hundreds of thousands of Ivorians in Liberia, and always trying to find lasting and peaceful solutions.”
Mo Ibrahim, founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said it is wonderful to have a winner this year, and it is also wonderful that the winner is a she.
“How fitting that President Sirleaf is honoured here in Rwanda, as nobody has done more for women, and the gender issue, than Rwanda.”
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame said, “leadership is both a privilege and a duty. It is best measured in terms of concrete results that citizens can feel in their everyday lives as well as the level of trust that they have in public institutions. During our time in office we must work as hard as we can to do the right things for our people’s future.”
The Leadership Ceremony is at the heart of the 2018 Ibrahim Governance Weekend, the flagship event of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which takes place in a different African country each year.
Health Reporters gathered that the Mo Ibrahim Forum will bring together experts from across Africa and the world to discuss ‘Public Service in Africa’ – its relation to good governance and effective leadership, its new challenges and current shortcomings, and the ways and means to strengthen it and make it appealing to the next generation.
Young representatives from all over the continent also discussed the topic in a specially convened Next Generation Forum.
The weekend will conclude with a live concert featuring Sauti Sol, Peter P-Square, Riderman, Knowless, Phionah Mbabazi and Charly & Nina.