Committee says she did her best despite the challenges she faced
By Nsikan Ikpe
The Salim Ahmed Salim-led Awards Committee for the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Prize has explained why they gave Liberia’s immediate past president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the Mo Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership 2017.
Slim, a former Foreign Minster of Tanzania and Secretary General of the Organisation of African Union spoke on behalf of the judging panel for the annual awards series which recognises an African leader that had successfully completed a democratic tour of duty, advanced the cause of democracy in the continent and improved upon the fortunes of his/her people.
Sirleaf, who handed over the reins of power only weeks ago to ex-international George Oppong Weah is the first woman among a select class of five laureates to have won the award since its inception ten years ago.
No awards were presented for the other five years as the judging committee repeatedly failed to find suitable candidates to so honour.
In the formal text of the citation announcing the award on Monday and which has since been released to the media, the Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation outlined:
‘The Prize Committee of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announces that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, is the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership Laureate.
The Prize Committee found that, confronted with unprecedented and renewed challenges, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf demonstrated exceptional and transformative leadership.
She took over a country that was devastated and broken by 14 years of civil war, and was later struck again by the Ebola crisis.
Such a journey cannot be without some shortcomings. Today, Liberia continues to face many challenges. Nevertheless, during her twelve years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf laid the foundations on which Liberia can now build. In the process, she restored Liberians’ dignity and pride in their country.
Throughout her time in office, she staunchly maintained her priorities and her determination to succeed on behalf of the people of Liberia.
Since 2006, Liberia is the only country, out of 54, to improve in every category and subcategory of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. From 2006 to 2014, before the Ebola crisis hit the country, the Liberian economy grew at an average annual rate of over 7%.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf endured imprisonment, exile, and personal risk on the road to leadership, and yet persevered in her demand for honest government for her people. She courageously embraced opponents and fought for generational change, and paved the way for her successor to follow.
Her achievements have inspired and given confidence to millions of women in public service. Apart from her leadership in her country, she has always been a champion for Africa. Her success is Africa’s success and testament to the power of exceptional leadership.
Today, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stands tall in victory, as the recipient of the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Immediate past President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf