HOW ALMOST FOUR YEARS OF SILANYO”S ADMINISTRATION PUT SOMALILAND
IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION
When the president assumed the office of presidency in late 2010, Somaliland was a fledgling nation with its people full of hope and optimism about the future of their country, and the expectations of this new government of Kulmiye were high for so many reasons including the campaign slogans of Kulmiye Party led by this current president Ahmad Silanyo, and all the promises and enthusiasms imbued to people by his Kulmiye Party during and before the election years when he was the chairman of the opposition leader. Also, because of that the president is seasoned politician who has been in the political arena for over a half century, but unfortunately the true color of the president’s play book has emerged and that play book has become the lessons he learned under late dictator Siyaad Barre in the early seventies and mid-eighties which was based on division, fear and promotion of one over another without merit and in overall attenuation of the will of the masses in order to keep them under control rather than strengthening them.
Let us just put into writing and analyze and dissect few of the major promises the president had made and imbued to the people of the Republic which never materialized and were never delivered.
TRANSPARENCY: The president vehemently promised during his campaign for the office that he would change the culture of the corruption, favoritism and malfeasance when he had been the opposition leader. When he came to power, that promise faded away and became only a campaign slogan thrown out of the window, yet the corruption had reached staggering levels in which the meager available resources were embezzled by his political appointees and cronies. The General Auditors Office has been reduced into a non-existent body which cannot fully function. The basic duties of the General Auditor’s Office are to safe guard the national treasure and assets by creating a transparent system of checks and balances to deter any wrongdoings.
SMALL AND EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT: In late 2010, when the president was sworn in, he proclaimed that unlike the previous governments he would form small, effective and quality government, and the people of Somaliland have been jubilating and reacting to that good news in every corner of the country. He appointed an ad hoc committee to advice on this task including Adna Aden, Mohamad Rashid Sheik Hasan and many other respectable elites and scholars of the county. It took them weeks if not months to come up with a highly anticipated recommendations, and finally when they had submitted their recommendation, the president did not act upon that recommendation but some ill advice he received from his inner circle who was mainly his clansmen and bundlers who had raised money and contributed to his presidential campaign, and as a matter of fact, some of these inner circle group operate like de facto presidents and prime ministers while there is an official and legitimately elected sitting president.
This inner circle has advocated fiercely and pushed the president to fulfill some of the Garadag saga. The people who do not know Garadag saga; it was a clan gathering took place in the city of Garadag in mid-2008, and my point here is not in any how to criticize in a malevolent manner the Garadag convention which was just one of those tribal meetings organized by clans in Somaliland or elsewhere, but some of the agenda items in that convention which the president has implemented while in office are warranted to be critiqued all the time. The recent statement made by Mohamad AbdulQadir who was the vice chairman of Kulmiye Party before he was expelled disgracefully and humiliated in that ill-fated Kulmiye Party convention of 2012, sheds the light and sums up how the president deals with different clans and sub clans in the country and I quote him, “ Silanyo’s had preoccupied the notion of if you earn the trust and loyalty of one dominant sub clan in Somaliland, you don’t need the rest” unfortunately, this approach has led to the creation of different classes where some have felt they are entitled and other have felt alienated and this was one of items on the agenda in the Garadag gathering summer of 2008, and we all know how this idea has backfired recently. Another salient feature of Garadag gathering was how to control the key resources of income in the country through transferring and appointing his kin or someone else trusted which thus created the gentry system.
CREATION OF KHATUMO STATE AND NOMINAL AWDAL STATE: The president has failed to create an inclusive government which has led to the reasonable anger and dissatisfaction of many people in the Republic. Therefore, intentionally or unintentionally he is responsible for the creation of many opposition groups. His Washington trip will be remembered as a complete fiasco and how he was embarrassed and tantalized in front of Western media. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but any sage, political savvy like the president who has been in the political arena more than fifty years could have known and imagined the repercussions and the negative connotation which can result from a foreign trip with all the members of the entourage being exclusively your relatives and your clan members and still you are advocating for recognition on the basis of establishing an inclusive, democratic government. The people of Somaliland and elsewhere cannot fathom how the president and his advisors could have overlooked such a palpable blunder which gives free ammunition and a platform to the people who oppose the very existence of Somaliland.
TRIBALISM: Tribal loyalty and affiliation is something which is very normal and most of the Somalis hold them dear. However, Somaliland was lucky to be an exception from the rest of Somalia for a brief period of time. The people of the Republic were transformed by late president Ibrahim Haji Egal who was a great leader, a man with a vision and unparalleled courage.
Under many years of his leadership, people were transformed from tribalism to somewhat nationalistic, and people despised the government in a positive way which was as long as its providing security and holding the people together, then who cares about the rest, unlike this current government which the people see the only way to accumulate wealth is to be government official, and you behold people lining up at the presidential palace to get an opportunity to meet president Silanyo or may be his right arm de facto premier Minister Hirsi.
EXODUS OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE FROM THE COUNRTY HAS QUADRUBLE: Every day thousands of people, mainly adolescents or very young tender aged boys and girls who have just finished their secondary or college education are risking their lives and embarking on dangerous missions to cross the uninhabitable desert between Sudan and Libya.
It is unimaginable journey for many to get a better life one day and cross the Mediterranean Sea where some of them make it and most of them perished on the high seas. To be fair, we cannot blame on this unprecedented exodus as whole on the president’s administration, but they failed their basic responsibility of fighting with corruption and creating jobs by preventing the waste of millions of dollars unnecessary and unproductive trips to abroad by his cabinet. It can be unequivocally argued that this government is contributing to it either directly or indirectly.
They could have tackled the corruption, and the money saved could have been used to create jobs for the people who are fleeing from the country because of poverty and rampant unemployment.
For just one example, the government could have experimented with some small pilot project by reviving and investing fishing industry instead of outsourcing to some international fishing companies just providing few fishing boats and refrigerators with the money wasted in larceny by the people in the office. Surely, so many lives would have been changed and so many jobs would have been created.
MISHANDLING AND MEDDLING OF THE MEDIA: Media is the most powerful tool in the world when it is used the right way, and in Africa, for centuries, it has been totally nonexistent because of the pressure, harassment and constant reprisal by the governments since they do not want to see reports of their wrongdoings surfacing. In the Western countries, it is the media which keeps the government under control and the politicians fear them because any malfeasance by any official will be printed in the front pages and the people adore media. The last twenty years or so, we have witnessed the printing media emerging in Somaliland, and making tremendous strides in perspective of where they came from and where they stand today and in general, the people tend to appreciate the idea of having multiple forms of newspaper to satisfy their need of information and their hobby.
Now, president Silanyo’s administration looks like that they have a great deal of consternation and fear as well of the media since there is so much wrong doing which in any way will be found and reported by the media. They have also been putting massive efforts into find ways of fiercely combating and silencing them by intimidation and in some cases imprisonment, even though that seems a bad idea with no apparent success. The latest example is HAATUF and its editors.
STRAINED RELATIONSHIP WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES: The relationship between Somaliland and the neighboring countries, without hyperbole, has been strained as a result of a series of missteps by this current administration and the appointments of emissaries who are not qualified to do the job and appointed on the basis of who you know but, not what you know. The people travel between these countries for so many reasons including business trips or visiting family members and often times finding quality treatment which may not be available at home hospitals. Any time border is closed, it places an extra burden and inconvenience upon the mobility of the people.
THE ROLE OF OPPOSITION PARTIES: The only remaining two political parties which are WADANI and UCID after the election of 2012 seem too lax and inattentive to the situation of the country except when making press releases and a few non compelling interviews and media briefings, however, they have a golden opportunities to reach out and mobilize the masses and salvage the country.
They must press hard that the election should be held on time, and the country cannot afford another five years of Silanyo’s administration. They need to come up and put forward common sense, and a visible plans of how they will pull the country of this mess and lead it towards the right direction once again. They must reach out to each and every sector of the society, particularly the youths, and preach what the youths are yearning to hear such as creation of jobs and equal opportunities for everyone. They must present a cohesive message and agenda which can appeal to everyone in this country, a message of hope which can uplift the youths of this nations who are unemployed 80%.
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