IMMEDIATE PAST GHANAIAN president John Agyekum Kufuor is highly tipped to beat former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to this year’s Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership Award set to be announced this month despite efforts to kill his chances of winning the award by a high level Ghanaian delegation which went to the Foundation with a mission to scuttle any likelihood of him winning the award.
Sources say efforts by the official delegation to kill Kufuor’s chances failed despite allegations by the delegation led by a respected academician (name withheld) that the former President is undeserving of the award.
The delegation, this paper gathered, alleged that the former president was corrupt and also claimed that he violated the Ghanaian Constitution by doing business while in office, presenting the Foundation with newspaper clippings of a report by the Weekly Standard newspaper which made the allegation in the run-up to the 2008 elections.
The Weekly Standard, which was then owned and edited by the former Assistant to ex-President Rawlings, Mr Victor Emmanuel Smith, had alleged that the then president owes over $5billion to some Kuwait oil suppliers and that his personal properties were being appropriated to defray the debt; an allegation forcefully rebutted by the then Press Secretary to the president, Mr Andrew Awuni, who insisted that the Head of State neither has any dealings with any Kuwait oil suppliers nor does he own any oil company.
Mr Smith, presently the Head of Protocol at the Presidency, later admitted in a radio interview on JOY FM”s Front Page programme hosted by the celebrated Kwaku Sakyi-Addo that he has no evidence to support his publication, admitting that he only acted on hearsay and so had no documents to back his claims.
“I don’t have documentary evidence, I would have told you if I had” he said, though he insisted that he would not retract the story.
President Kufuor has been on the list of potential winners of this year’s award following his government’s handling of the 2008 presidential election, which saw a smooth transition of power from his ruling NPP to the opposition NDC in Africa’s closest elections ever.
While some activists of the NPP have faulted the former President for not using his executive powers to ‘steal the verdict of the people’ for his party, many have praised his handling of the charged political situation and his support of the Electoral Commission and the electoral processes which led to the loss of his own party.
The gap between the losing ruling party and the winning opposition NDC was below 24,000 by the penultimate count before the presidential run-off in Tain in the Brong Ahafo jumped the figures to barely 40,000.
The other leading contestant in a year of ‘crises elections’ on the African continent is former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who resigned his post following his party’s expression of lack of confidence in him and a clash between him and current S. A. President Jacob Zuma.
Sources, however, say that checks by the Foundation at the various offices in Kuwait, The Hague and other places cited by the Weekly Standard have turned up nothing to convince them of the credibility of the report, convincing the Foundation that the story has no factual basis, upping Kufuor’s chances of walking away with the award.
Efforts to reach the Spokesman of the former president, Mr Frank Agyekum, on this issue failed.
A government official reached, however, refused to comment, insisting “our interaction should be off-record.”
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was set up to promote African development, with a special focus on promoting good governance in sub-Saharan Africa by the Sudanese-born Dr Mo Ibrahim, one of Africa’s most successful business leaders.
The Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, awarded annually, recognises a former executive Head of State or Government who has demonstrated exemplary leadership using the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, a comprehensive ranking of sub-Saharan African countries according to governance quality.
The Board of the Foundation comprises Mo Ibrahim, Lalla Ben Barka (Director, Regional UNESCO Bureau for Education); Lord Cairns (Chairman, Charities Aid Foundation); Dr Mamphela Ramphele (former Managing Director, World Bank); Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights); Salim Ahmed Salim (former Secretary-General, Organisation of African Unity) and Nicholas Ulanov (Managing Director, The Ulanov Partnership).
The Prize Committee is, however, made up of eminent individuals with expert knowledge of Africa and a commitment to supporting the continent’s development.
They include Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General, United Nations (Chair); Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and former UN special envoy to Kosovo; Aicha Bah Diallo, former Minister of Education in Guinea and Director of Basic Education at UNESCO; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (and Board member of the Foundation):Salim Ahmed Salim, former Prime Minister of Tanzania and former Secretary-General of the Organisation for African Unity (and Board member of the Foundation).
What is the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership? The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the world’s biggest prize, attracts an award of US$ 500,000 per annum for a period of ten years, and US$ 200,000 annually thereafter. An optional facility of up to US$ 200,000 annually, to support suitable post-office initiatives and activities by the winner, may be offered at the Foundation’s discretion. The Prize is awarded on an annual basis to a former executive Head of State or Government in sub-Saharan Africa. Eligible candidates will have taken office through proper elections and left having served the constitutional term stipulated when taking office.
How will winners of the Mo Ibrahim Prize be selected? The winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize is selected by a Prize Committee on the basis of his/her performance relative to his/her peers in all sub-Saharan countries. The Prize Committee will be guided in their selection of a winner by the Ibrahim Index for African Governance, a comprehensive ranking of sub-Saharan African countries according to governance quality.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is awarded annually to a former African executive Head of State or Government who has demonstrated excellence in African leadership. Unprecedented in its scale and scope, the Mo Ibrahim Prize consists of US$ 5 million over 10 years and US$ 200,000 annually for life thereafter. A further US$ 200,000 per year for good causes espoused by the winner may be granted by the Foundation during the first ten years.
The winner of the 2008 Mo Ibrahim Prize will be selected by a Prize Committee comprised of the following:
Kofi Annan (Chair), Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Laureate
Martti Ahtisaari, Former President of Finland and Nobel Laureate
Aïcha Bah Diallo, Former Minister of Education in Guinea and Director of Basic Education at UNESCO
Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Laureate
Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Salim Ahmed Salim, Former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity and former Prime Minister of Tanzania
GYE NYAME CONCORD