Goodluck Jonathan has failed to clinch the prestigious $5 million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership despite meeting a key criterion.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which instituted the prize, said on Thursday that no former African leader met the requirements for the 2015 version of the yearly award.
The Ibrahim Prize has been awarded just four times in the decade since it was established.
Candidates are African heads of state or government who have left office in the past three years, been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated terms. They must also show “exceptional leadership.”
The award honors role models on a continent where many leaders have stayed in power for decades.
“If there is no worthy candidate, the committee chooses not to award,” the foundation’s head of communications, Sophie Masipa, said in a statement.
Namibia’s former president was the last winner of the the world’s richest award that has seen a dearth of worthy candidates, for “good governance” in Africa, last year.
Hifikepunye Pohamba, 79, is only the fourth winner of the $5 million annual prize, launched in 2007 with the aim of encouraging and rewarding good governance across a continent where the likes of Nelson Mandela — who bowed out gracefully from office — remain the exception.
While elections are now the rule in Africa, many leaders seek to force through constitutional changes in order to stay in power, sometimes well into old age, while others die in office or are forced to flee.
The prize, which was instituted in 2006 by Sudanese telecoms entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, rewards former African leaders who demonstrated sterling qualities while in office.
The prize rewards democratically elected ex-leaders who left office in the last three years; served their constitutionally mandated term; and demonstrated exceptional leadership.
The prize also “showcases unsung heroes of the African continent; recognises African leaders who have dedicated their tenure of office to developing their countries, improving the welfare and livelihoods of their people and paving the way for sustainable development; offers opportunities for leaders who have left national office to continue in other public roles across the continent; encourages the engagement of African citizens in the leadership debate.
The award is also “a standard for excellence in leadership in Africa, and not a ‘first prize’, there is not necessarily a Laureate every year,” the foundation said.
The seven-man panel said in a statement that no African leader met its requirements.
The democratic credentials of former President Goodluck Jonathan have been globally celebrated and received yet another boost with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the United States recognizing him as the leader that provided the best moments for democracy in Africa in 2015.
In its “The Year in Review” report for 2015, the Center in March 2016 highlighted Nigeria’s 2015 elections and praised Jonathan’s classy role in ensuring a smooth transfer of power in Nigeria which “became a big confidence boost for Africa’s mass movements for democracy.”
Apart from Jonathan, who left office in May 2015, another former African leader who quit in the last three years is Yayi Boni of Benin Republic.
A winner enjoys $5m over 10 years and another $200,000 yearly for life. A winner can also ask for another $200,000 for good causes he or she supports.
So far, only the former presidents of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano; Botswana’s Festus Mogae; Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba; and Pedro Piers of Cape Verde have clinched the award.
Ex-South African President Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary prize in 2007.