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Tanzania’s Magufuli emerges #AfricanLeader2017


…beats Buhari, Sirleaf, Kagame and Akufo-Addo


By Nsikan Ikpe


Tanzanian President, Dr John Pombe Magufuli has emerged as The Difference Newspaper’s #AfricanLeader2017.

He was selected from a field that included Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari.

A statement from the newspaper, which is published from Lagos, Nigeria revealed that the Tanzanian leader who came into office in November 2015 was chosen on account of his focused contributions towards improving the living conditions of the citizens of the East African nation as well as his exemplary leadership style.

Ghana’s Nana Akufo Addo emerged as runner-up in the reckoning of the newspaper. He was followed in that order by Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.

How they fared

Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria)

Elected on a ‘Change’ agenda, President Muhammadu Buhari came into office on May 29, 2015 with great expectations from the Nigerian people. However, the nation under his watch has not witnessed a lot of the promised improvements, and was even to slip in and out of a recession.

There has however been some degree of progress recorded in boosting local agricultural productivity (notably rice cultivation) and reducing some of the ferocious onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Overall however, factors of poor political brinkmanship, visionary inertia and unfocused and controversy-laden promotion of the war against corruption have eaten into the success potential of the administration which is practically entering its last year in office.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia)

In a matter of days, Sirleaf, who has the distinction of being Africa’s first elected female President would be standing down from office after 12 years in office. Her tenure has seen her wage many battles, not the least being the ‘war against Ebola.’

She has however not done much to expand the nation’s economic base even as her last year in office has witnessed a lot of political intrigues that many say was indeed needless.

Paul Kagame (Rwanda)

Paul Kagame has proved through the years to be one of the most ebullient advocates of meaningful development on the continent.

Under his watch, Rwanda has grown from ‘the genocide country’ to becoming an East African and African economic success story. Commendably, he remains one of the ‘last men standing’ who very resolutely resists neo-colonial subjugation of the continent as was witnessed for example during the ‘second hand clothes ban’ controversy earlier in the year.

However, though he secured one more landslide win in the August 2017 presidential polls, the lack of solid succession planning and the over-kill reaction to the political opposition has continued to detract from his long-term worth on the African leadership scene.

Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana)   

Akufo-Addo was sworn into office at the beginning of the year and has largely proven his mettle in office. A former foreign minister in the John Kufuor years, Ghana under his watch is presently recording a fairly significant economic boost that no doubt benefits from the relative democratic stability that the nation has enjoyed in the past two decades.

In a particular sense however, the current administration has improved on the electricity supply situation in the country (that had indeed degenerated into being a national embarrassment during the John Mahama tenure), lowered interest rates and commenced a policy of assisting private educational institutions (one of Ghana’s newest goldmines, given the massive influx of students from particularly neighbouring Nigeria into its educational arena) among other practical economic reform initiatives. The result has been a clear spike in GDP growth, which at 9.0 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 and 9.4 per cent in the third quarter, is a sub-regional, continental and global leader.

But these are still early days for Nana Akufo-Addo and we will therefore wait for even more developments, including the outcome of the most promising ‘One District, one Factory’ policy.

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli (Tanzania)

Elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, Magufuli had served in several capacities in the Cabinet of Tanzania, including being Deputy Minister, Minister of Works and Minister of Lands and Human Settlement.

Nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, and widely seen as being ‘a no-nonsense, results-driven politician,’ the maverick leader goes the extra mile to connect with his people: he rides public buses, discloses his salary on TV, joins waste disposal crews at work, and intervenes in industrial and labour spats.

Clearly a hands-on leader, Magufuli for example intervened directly when new regulatory challenges tended to undermine operations at the Dangote Cement plant in the country to the extent that the company had to briefly suspend production.

In another act of brinkmanship and to make the case for recent widespread public spending cuts, President Magufuli went on public TV to reveal that he earns a salary of 9 million Tanzanian shillings ($4000) per month, making him one of the lowest paid African leaders.

It is perhaps also part of his commitment to fair play and justice that the fifth President of the United Republic of Tanzania was conspicuously absent weeks ago at the swearing in of his neighbour-president, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who had been elected into office for a second term in basically controversial circumstances.

On the flip side however, and reaffirming the imperative that the African people and civil society must never be distracted from their natural role of being a virile watchdog on the continent’s leaders, there has continued to be concern expressed that in his rush to get the job done, Magafuli does not shy away from clamping down on all dissenters, the opposition and the media.

Equally notable is the fact that his Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the party of the iconic Mwalimu Julius Nyerere has been in power since Tanzania secured its independence on December 9, 1961.


President John Magufuli of Tanzania

Liberia waits to swear in Weah as President

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