by Ali Hassan
February 15, 2017
First, let me congratulate Your Excellency for your election victory. A lot has been said and written about your recent victory with celebrations all over the country and around the globe by the Somali diaspora. I believe that you owe your victory to the Somali people and as a such have a mandate on their behalf.
During the weeks that preceded the election, many candidates and other Somali patriots have strongly and with passion spoke about the ills facing Somalia, including wide spread vote buying, the drought, high levels of corruption, unrelenting interference of all walks of Somalia’s affairs by foreign elements who, contrary to what they claim and preach, tried to influence the outcome of the election in favour of their preferred candidates. It seems that the Somali people have proven them wrong.
Somalis by nature are patriots, though impatient and occasionally egoistic. However, ordinary citizens and diaspora alike were hungry for a change to have a normal life and a chance to rebuild their country, and most important to reclaim their honor, national identity, dignity and reclaim their rightful place in Africa and the world.
With that short background, let me elaborate more on the important issues that I would like Your Excellency and your government to give utmost consideration. As you begin your administration, all eyes will be on you. Your Excellency will not have the luxury for a honeymoon. You will be tested by foes and friends to show tangible results in addressing insecurity and corruption. There are no second chances in the current Somali political dispensation. In this regard, I would like to call on Your Excellency’s attention to the following issues, some of which you have already mentioned in your statements.
Security, Security and Security.
Security is by far the most urgent, but an important element that needs your complete and unwavering attention. The security sector needs allocation of adequate resources and mobilization of the entire country. Everything else is secondary. Security forces lack religious motivation and orientation, adequate training, equipment, discipline, patriotism and welfare in terms of salary, health benefits and most important strong leadership. The security forces can fight to win once they are provided with adequate resources. The entire country’s resources should be geared toward rebuilding the different security organs. It should start with the screening (actual numbers) and disbanding of tribal militia and personal security guards. Your Excellency should engage different armed groups and reintegrate their forces into the national army. Given the right approach and incentives, some of these groups might be willing to join. Your government will be tested first and foremost on how it deals with the security situation in the country and unless the government shows positive results, it will be doomed to fail.
Your Excellency should relocate your office to the ministry of defense headquarters and lead by example.
Access to justice and equality before the law without fear or favour is the cornerstone of any society and particularly in rebuilding a society battered by war. While positive actions have started in rebuilding the judiciary, we know that the administration of justice in the country has been in a free fall and for sale to the highest bidder. Somalis say, “cadaalad ayaa qof walba deeqda.” It would be very hard to reconcile the population, enjoy peace coexistence and harmony if there is no justice. A radical judicial surgery is required to lay strong foundation of the justice system based on our Islamic believes. A good example is what the Islamic Courts have achieved in this area for a short time.
Economic Regeneration and Accountability
The Somali private sector has been the envy in the region and Somali entrepreneurs have kept the economy moving for a long time without government support. However, these achievements worked for a small fraction of the population. It is time now to open the economy for the greater benefit of the population. The economy is dollarized to the determent of the majority. Taxes are imposed on the poor and street vendors, only to be pocked and stolen. Big businesses, such as telecommunication companies, banking, Hawala and other production enterprises, etc. must pay their fair share of taxes to finance the rebuilding of the security organs and the provision of social services. It has been documented that precious government land, buildings and other infrastructure has been improperly allocated. Somali currency is none existent. Agricultural production and animal husbandry has been neglected and need to be revived and provided incentives.
Grand corruption has become part of the everyday Somali vocabulary. International and local organizations rank Somalia as the most corrupt country in world, with the hope that your government will take immediate actions to tackle this vice. It is very important that all Somalis reject and fight corruption. Corruption breeds abuse of power, erodes confidence in government, encourages false accounting practices to hide the loot and emboldens greed. It impairs development. It is corrosive and discourages honest hard work. It encourages criminality and loss of trust for public officials. It is un-Islamic and it must be fought by everyone.
I call upon Your Excellency to establish highly-respected team to investigate into the improper allocation of public land, buildings, infrastructure, marine, air and exploration licenses and other government assets without following proper public tendering and transparency system.
In conclusion, I would urge Your Excellency to appoint a prime minister who shares your mission, vision and whom you can work in harmony. Efforts should be made to avoid reappointing and recycling individuals who have been implicated in corruption and incompetence in the past. The cabinet should be inclusive and appointed on merit.
We hope that you would avoid the mistakes made in the past by spending so much valuable time, energy and resources entertaining to the unending stream of visitors, elders, rent seekers, self-appointed leaders, etc.
Somalia is at the crossroads and needs a leader who could mobilize the people and bring back security and rebuild government institutions. I hope that Your Excellency will not disappoint the millions who celebrated your victory who put their faith in you and the courageous and patriotic MPs who refuses to be intimidated. Only God will help to those who help themselves. We are watching and so is the world.