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Mo Ibrahim Prize awarded to Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou

11 March 2021

Tournons La Page learned on March 8 via international media, the awarding of the "Mo Ibrahim" Prize to the outgoing Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou. The "Mo Ibrahim" index, produced by the foundation of the same name, is based on indicators, divided into four main areas: security and the rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic development; and human development. This internationally recognised index, which serves as the basis for the Mo Ibrahim Prize, is designed to assess state governance in terms of transparency, accountability of leaders, corruption, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the political climate and access to basic needs such as education, health or water... If this prize is awarded to reward leadership excellence in Africa and in view of the 95 indicators contained in the Mo Ibrahim Index, it is legitimate to express doubts about the choice made for Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou. Indeed, Niger, for example, does not even reach 50% approval in the categories "level of governance" (47.8%) or "Participation Rights and Inclusion" (49.5%).

We, whose dozens of members have been incarcerated in Niger without trial on numerous occasions over the past four years;

We, who have seen the slow deterioration of the economic situation with major corruption scandals (MDN Gate, Uraniumgate...);

We, who have seen the freedom of the press erode to the point of alerting the largest specialised NGOs (RSF, CPJ...) to the situation;

We, who have seen more than 20 successive bans on demonstrations in 2 years;

We, who have seen civic space restricted to the point that the NGO Civicus added Niger to its "watch list" and qualified the country as "repressed".

For us, this award sounds like an offence to all Nigerien citizens who have been paying the price of dysfunctional governance for the past 10 years.

This award comes in a climate of deep division and violent polarisation of political and social life, for which President Mahamadou Issoufou is primarily responsible. Just a few days ago, hundreds of political opposition activists were imprisoned and the internet was cut off for 10 days, plunging Niger into a violent post-election crisis. Giving this prize when the electoral dispute is not settled and involves the president's successor is at best clumsy, at worst a form of interference.

Furthermore, the winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize must meet the following criteria: be a former president or prime minister; have left office no more than 3 years ago; be democratically elected; have completed his or her constitutional term; and demonstrate exceptional leadership. However, until April 2021, Mr Issoufou is the president of Niger, he has not left office and has therefore not completed his constitutional mandate. Can one really establish an award for good governance by not respecting its own rules? Finally, in a country plagued by extreme poverty (Niger is among the bottom of the human development index) and in which citizens often perceive politics as a means to enrich themselves, how can we perceive the president's receipt of $5 million even before the end of his term as anything other than a golden retirement far removed from the daily difficulties of the Nigerien people?

Tournons La Page would like to remind you that leaving after two terms of office is simply a matter of respecting the fundamental law. Although often trampled on elsewhere in Africa, term limits are only a condition for good governance. To honour with a richly endowed prize a man who has respected a single article of the constitution in the absence of many others is to consecrate the bankruptcy of democracy in Africa. Tournons La Page cannot resign itself to this.

For the Tournons La Page movement

TLP-Niger Coordinator, Maikoul Zodi

TLP-DRC Coordinator, Jean-Chrysostome Kijana

TLP-Chad Coordinator, Jacques Ngarassal

TLP-RCI Coordinator, Alexandre Didier Amani

TLP-Gabon Coordinator, Nathalie Zemo

TLP-Congo Coordinator, Brice Mackosso

TLP-Burundi Coordinator, Janvier Bigirimana