Oct 242009

This is the first time a Leviathan Ankle-Biter award goes to a billionaire, but Mo Ibrahim gets one.

The foundation that runs the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership said this week its prize would go to . . . no one.

Though not widely known, the prize, created by Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim in 2007, is one of the more thoughtful efforts at bestowing honor on a public figure. For starters, the prize can go only to a democratically elected head of state in Africa. But here’s the kicker: The winner has to have left office in the previous three years.

Mr. Ibrahim clearly is all too aware of Africa’s history of being governed by strongmen who either don’t bother holding an election, or if they do, ensure that they win—forever.

So he’s designed his prize with the world’s biggest carrot: The winner gets $5 million spread over 10 years, plus $200,000 for life annually. We’d call this one of the more creative exercises in term limits.

URL here.

I’d be in favor of instituting an award like that for the U.S. Congress. Give away a couple dozen of them each year. If it would get rid of those who have been corrupted by the power of seniority, never mind any achievements in leadership, it would be cheap at twice the price.

Unfortunately, even though members of Congress can be greedy, the worst of them are motivated more by a lust for power than by filthy lucre. It might be that by getting rid of the greedhogs we’d only create more slots for the powerhogs.