Mahamadou Issoufou received the 2020 Ibrahim Prize for leading his people on the “ path of progress ”.
Mahamadou Issoufou, who is resigning from his post as coup-prone president of Niger after two terms, won the first prize for leadership in Africa.
Issoufou received the 2020 Ibrahim Prize on Monday for facing “seemingly insurmountable challenges” ranging from deep poverty to armed rebellion and desertification.
Despite these persistent problems, “Issoufou has led his people on the path of progress,” said Mo Ibrahim Foundation award committee chairman Festus Mogae, who is also a former president of Botswana, in a statement.
“Today, the number of Nigeriens living below the poverty line has fallen to 40 percent from 48 percent ten years ago,” the statement said.
“Although challenges remain, Issoufou has kept his promises to the Nigerien people and paved the way for a better future.”
The first democratic transition
Issoufou, 68, resigns next month after 10 years in office.
His decision to resign after two terms allowed Niger to have the first democratic transition between elected officials since its independence from France more than 60 years ago.
The transfer was contrasted with that of other West African countries, where presidents oversaw constitutional changes allowing them to extend their terms – often at the cost of violent protests.
Issoufou’s preferred successor and right-hand man Mohamed Bazoum won last month’s second round, although the results were disputed by the opposition and subsequent violence in the capital Niamey left two dead.
The Ibrahim Prize for Success in African Leadership is based on the principles of healthy government, respect for term limits and democratic elections.
It has been awarded since 2007 by the foundation set up by the Anglo-Sudanese telecoms magnate Mo Ibrahim.
Issoufou is the sixth recipient of the award. The prize has not been awarded for a few years due to a lack of a suitable winner.
Past laureates include former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and South African apartheid fighter and former President Nelson Mandela, both also Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Winners receive $ 5 million over 10 years.
Niger is the poorest nation in the world, according to the UN benchmark for human development, and is struggling with skyrocketing population growth.
He is also fighting two armed rebellions that have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.