Nigeria will progress if it makes the needed adjustments – Sir Masire, former president of Botswana

For one born in the backwaters of rural Botswana where aspiration at that time was limited to becoming a migrant labourer in nearby South Africa, it is noteworthy that Ketemule Masire rose to become one of Africa’s greatest personalities. Not only did he rise to become the second president of one of Africa’s most stable countries, but he is also today one of the adjudicators of good governance on the continent. Sir Masire, who rose to become the second president of Botswana today sits on the board of some reputable institutions among which is the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. It was on that platform that he spoke to Saturday Vanguard penultimate Monday, minutes after the Mo Ibrahim International Index for Governance in Africa was released in London. The index provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is reputed as the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance. The 2016 IIAG was, however, a milestone being the ten years since the commencement of the index. It was as such not a surprise that the first question thrown to Sir Masire was on his perception of how the continent has progressed since the commencement of the index in 2006 “On the whole it has been very useful, Africa as a whole has done well, stabilised and made slight improvements,” he admitted even though he admitted that there are few areas Africa has gone back. sir-ketumile-masire On how the index has impacted on governance in the continent, he said: “I think in a great deal. People can learn from the index. As of now, Africa has been registered as a bad performer or non-performer, but there is no unit of assessment of what has happened, but now people can find out from well-considered measurements which are derived from very credible institutions and therefore, which have been compared with other countries and people can see where they are doing well and where they are doing bad, the governments can adjust themselves because they see from the measurements in any one of the 94 or more units,” he said. Asked if the findings are transmitted to African leaders, he said: “Yes. It is quite a question of taking the horse to the river, but you cannot make it drink.” On how Nigeria has fared, Sir Masire who in October 2010 co-led a National Democratic Institute pre-election assessment mission in Nigeria, said: “Considering what Nigeria is facing, the oil situation they have done fairly well, but they could have done better.” “My expectation is that they have been some time at the game, that they are going to do what can be done and we hope that oil price will increase and that the adjustment which should be done should be made.” The latest governance index showed Nigeria ranked 36th out of 54 countries in Overall Governance with a score of 46.5 out of 100. The score was a slight improvement by 2.5 points over the last decade. Asked if the index could be used to compare with developments in other continents, he said: “I am afraid that for the time being, we are concentrating on Africa, we don’t want to bite more than we can chew. We are first of all dealing with Africa, and it is maybe later when human and material resources are available that we can measure against other continents.” One measurement of governance that has improved across Africa is child mortality. What accounted for this he was asked? “I think it is because people are becoming more conscious, more educated, facilities too are being improved in a very good way.” Against the background of Western insinuations of breakdown of governance in Zimbabwe, the country is, however, regarded as one of the three most improved countries in the area of governance. “I think we did measure each country from the depth of which it did ascend and considering the low base to which Zimbabwe had sunk, the improvements that they have done on the basis of what they are having I think it is quite considerable and quite encouraging.” One question that this correspondent sought an answer from President Masire during the telephone engagement was on why and when the Mo Ibrahim Foundation would again give out its prime award, the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Unarguably, the world’s richest prize with an initial $5 million dollar payment and an annual $200,000 payment, the prize has not been given out in recent time. The prize is given to for former heads of state for exemplary leadership. Does that indicate a hiatus in good governance in Africa I was about to ask, but the telephone connection to Masire in London suddenly went cold. So much for the expectation of good governance!

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