So Jonathan Doesnt Deserve Mo Ibrahim Prize, Really?

It is with bewilderment that we receive the news that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan did not receive the Mo Ibrahim Award, despite voluntarily handing over to the winner of the 2015 presidential elections, Muhammadu Buhari.

The criteria for winning the Mo Ibrahim Award, as he told the BBC yesterday is that the person should be, in Mo Ibrahim’s words “a leader who came to power democratically and transparently, then moved his country forward, made important key decisions which helped its people and then bowed out gracefully at the end of his or her period.”

Let us analyse Jonathan based on these criteria:

  1. A leader who came to power democratically and transparently: Jonathan won the 20111 presidential elections. Of course, the election was challenged by several parties in the courts, but in the end, even President Buhari who came second decided to wait for 2015, which he finally won.
  2. A leader who ‘moved his country forward’: Like or hate him, we cannot deny that Nigeria surpassed South Africa to become Africa’s biggest economy, no mean feat (even though that gigantic economic growth did not filter down to the common man, leading to his defeat by Buhari and the APC), but come on… that feat was no mean feat.
  3. …’Made important key decisions which helped its people’: Here I will agree that Oga Jona did not really try, because I feel that his Government should have saved more. If they had saved more, we wouldn’t be in this economic quagmire we are in now. That was a grave fault, so Mr Ibrahim would be right to give Jonathan a minus here.
  4. … ‘and then bowed out gracefully at the end of his or her period’: Jonathan bowed out gracefully at the end of his tenure, pump and plain. Mr Ibrahim cannot convince us otherwise. Even President Buhari makes it known to all that care to listen that Jonathan’s voluntary handover is one of the good points the Bayelsa-born politician has with him, irrespective of any other serious misgivings he may have against him.


Based on the fact that the major criterium for the award was that the ex-president should have bowed out gracefully, Jonathan deserved that award. He bowed out gracefully and was soundly praised by world leaders and even the then opposition party the APC.

By denying Jonathan the award, Mo Ibrahim risks destroying its credibility. Unless he the money for the award -and its accompanying pension- is not there (which would be understandable, giving the volatile natures of the world economy at present, there is no reason Jonathan shouldn’t have been gotten it.

The Mo Ibrahim prize is not primarily a good governance award, but a political sportsmanship award. Let it remain so.


By OzoIgboNdu1 of Igbo Defender

Digital marketer and Marketing analyst

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