20th May, 2010
The Africa Renaissance Coalition has given reasons for picking President Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya as the African Leader of the Year 2009 out of 52 heads of state and leaders of the countries in the continent.
Though it agreed that Gaddafi and his country do not practice true democracy, it maintained that of all the leaders, he is the one that has brought good governance to the people.
The coalition further said the Libyan leader is well accepted by the citizens of his country as against what obtains in other parts of the continent.
Speaking at the unveiling of the award, Sina Odugbemi, a senior official of the coalition, said that Gaddafi was able to bring governance down to the grassroots.
Apart from free education and effective medical system, Odugbemi, who said he had visited the country to personally observe how leadership is practised there, said no couple is homeless in the country.
â€œOnce you have your marriage certificate, you are entitled to a three-bedroom apartment. Gaddafi has built.
â€œWhile driving around Tripoli, the countryâ€™s capital, I saw sky scrapers and when I enquired, I was told they are being built for the future generation. Nobody is homeless in that county.
â€œFor those who do not have jobs, there are places where they can go and get food. Their fuel price, when their money is converted to naira, is only N30 per litre. So why should he not win the award?â€ he asked.
After the initial screening, Odugbemi said, former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, John Kuffor of Ghana and Gaddafi were left. Gaddafi won while Kuffor and Obasanjo came second and third respectively.
The criteria for the award included delivery of good things of life to the common man, housing, shelter. â€œIn that country, people live in free houses, we want to live in free houses in Nigeria even if not entirely free, it should be highly subsidised.
â€œWe have national identity cards which we cannot use for anything, but in some other countries, the cards help you access good things.
â€œWe are throwing a challenge at these faceless African leaders who refuse to know that the 21st century is one of challenges.â€
He urged Nigerians to rise up to challenge their leaders to deviate from their ways, which he said, have not been of help to the people.
The award is to be conferred on the Libyan leader in July this year.