by: Abdullahi Dool
Amid the killings and the plethora of bad news trickling out of Somalia daily, once again for the second year running, Somalia has landed on top of Transparency International corruption index. The question on everybody’s mind should be: How did impoverished and stateless nation end up on top of this shameful index? There is a reason for this. We know the bulk of wealth donated to Somalia, only a small bit ends up in the pocket of individual Somalis who are themselves accomplices and contributors to the suffering of our nation. A fallen nation is a haven for unscrupulous individuals who take advantage. Somalia too has become a gold mine for foreign individuals. However, the irony is those who feed on Somalia, the same way wild beasts and mildew feast on fallen animals, are also the ones shaming and disparaging Somalia.
The growing insurgency in Somalia is primarily a sign of the absence of an effective government. It is also a sign of the lack of a government which the Somali people can feel their own. We know insurgents do not live in a vacuum. Obviously, they do not operate on thin air. They have to have support. Another sign of the absence of a credible government in our country must be said, is the expanding involvement of the UN representative, Ahmedou Ould Abdalla in the affairs of Somalia.
The Somali people are agonizing the fact that Somalia is being treated as though it belongs to no-one. Undoubtedly, one of the Transitional Unity Government’s serious mistakes was its unwarranted rush to sign a maritime memorandum with the Kibaki government in Kenya. Most of our people see this agreement as a serious breach of trust and a betrayal. This unwished-for move by the TUG has disheartened many Somalis against the government of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. We now also learn that this agreement was previously rejected by Abdullahi Yusuf and his TFG.
Unlike in the past we want to live in peace with our neighbours. As new generation Somalis, we believe in neighbours living side by side in peace and close cooperation. However, because of the absence of a credible government in Somalia, the Kibaki government would be ill-advised to take measures which can only complicate the cordial relations that exist between our two nations. For starters, Somalia shall not recognize the maritime memorandum once we have a government fit for purpose.
The maritime memorandum fiasco too speaks volumes about the TUG’s choice of ministers. A minister is an individual placed with the highest trust to advance his or her nation’s interests and wellbeing. What kind of ministers are the ones who run to the Foreign Ministry of our neighbour barely a month after taking office to sell our coast on the hoof? How much does an inch of our God given coast cost? Regrettably, under the murky civil war climate, the Somali people are witnessing the creation of a strange type of civil servants who are out to get what they can. No wonder conflict is unending, perhaps, until those who care enough about our nation have arrived. Public servants are those motivated to serve and to make a difference not those driven to make fast money.
It is worth mentioning our appreciation to Abdirasak H Nuure who has educated us more about the TUG maritime agreement with the Kibaki government in his recent article: How Kibaki’s gimlet eyes espied Somalia’s southern coastline. Abdirasak explains the memorandum of understanding further in his article, “Ould Abdalla was the man who initiated the preparation of the preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the Continental shelf and [he] accepted an offer of assistance from the government of Norway…”
More than ever — Somalia needs the establishment of an effective government which every Somali can feel his or her own. The weighty nature of the task to uplift Somalia shall require the involvement of the entire population. How else can one fast track reconstruction and redevelopment without the involvement and blessing of the whole nation? It will take a different leadership to inspire the entire nation to embark on the task of reconstruction. It must be said that only a leadership with vision, talent and integrity can inspire the whole population to rebuild the nation. When that happens, conflict will end and insurgency will melt away the same way heat melts butter. It is the will of a nation in unison to succeed which sends the signal that the time has come to end violence so our nation can pick itself and to come back from the dead.
Some may wonder and not even know that we have been dead as a nation for too long. If we were not dead how else can we explain our nation which has tens of thousands of educated Somalis and hundreds of intellectuals stateless and the joke of the world for the best part of two decades? What about the likes of Ould Abdalla who had grown in stature riding on the bare skeleton back of Somalia? How can we explain, in Somalia, any individual who would not aspire to head a bakery would aspire to rule Somalia? Has Somalia become less important than a bakery? There is a reason behind everything. This is happening because in Somalia the bar of governing which should have been three meters high has been broken and on the floor. It is a peculiar life journey and events which make and mold those who pass as good leaders.
Another issue concerns inclusivity. To gain and retain legitimacy, a responsible government must include all and benefit all. We know in governing inclusivity is an important currency. It brings legitimacy and political capital. Political capital is the currency a government spends to stay in power. The more political capital in its possession, the more it can stay in power. However, inclusivity is more than picking individuals from different clans which brought by the 4.5 plan utilized to establish successive transitional governments which have failed the nation.
One of the differences between the 4.5 plan generated inclusivity and genuine inclusivity is the mechanism used. It is only a competent leadership which appoints a competent team to deliver. It is the task of a competent leader to create inclusivity with ability. For that reason what our nation needs first is to find the right leader for the task. Matching individuals from across communities with the right role the right leadership would know who to pick and how to deliver for the nation; the same way hiring a competent chauffer would bring mobility and the ability to go to places.
To regain the dignity of our nation we need to end division and revive our sense of nationhood. The only way which can restore our nationhood is a political direction which can make the Somali people see where we are going. This is clearly beyond the capability of successive inept transitional governments where the most treasured goal has been to collect funds from the international community to finance unworked for opulent lifestyle for few individuals while the whole population has been left to fend off for itself, stateless, voiceless and in abject poverty
Somalia has a million issues and problems which only an effective government can tackle. Ending mayhem and suffering in Somalia will take more than reconciling warring factions. The country does not belong to any faction. It belongs to the Somali people. When the time comes what is needed is to find the leadership which can establish an effective government and uplift the nation. This will not come by itself. We will have to find first the leadership which the competence to assemble the team which can take the nation out of its crises.
As touched on earlier, rescuing Somalia from finishing on top of global corruption index will take the formation of an effective government which every Somali can feel his or her own. However, the next opportunity to form an effective government may not come before the end of the mandate of the TUG at the end of 2011. In the meantime, Somalia should not be forgotten or abandoned by its people, especially its educated generation who would be needed to spearhead the task of rebuilding the nation.
Farah Abdulsamad who was one of those who responded to my message in an email is right to suggest that ‘the misery would continue if our intelligentsia doesn’t come together and save the nation.’ It is equally true that ‘sitting back and commenting on events without doing anything’ is not an option by itself. However, it was very important to allow things to take their course. Nonetheless, there has been a moral lapse. No-one should abandon one’s own homeland.
On 27 July 2009, a day before this article was going to press the TUG and its parliament were deliberating the maritime memorandum of understanding with the Kibaki government in Kenya. Of all the issues and crises the nation faces, the TUG had found time to duck bombs and bullets to deliberate this agreement as though it is as important as the panacea to all Somalia’s problems.
The only way to stay in power is through visible performance, delivery, and progress. Successive transitional governments created for Somalia with the help of UN ‘experts’ have become little more than business projects which benefit a few individuals who have acquired the taste for unearned opulent life while the rest of the population is suffering.
What can Mrs. Clinton add to the situation in Somalia other than complicate matters? Hasn’t she made a mess of the only George W Bush foreign policy success: North Korea? The Somali people are not with the TUG. Nor are we in support of the violence. We know there is no mileage in fanaticism. This is a modern world made smaller by technology and globalization. Fanaticism has no foundation to stand on. It has no domino effect. The question is: What is the new U.S. administration doing propping up private interest and unrepresentative government in Somalia? Isn’t it time to leave the Somali people themselves to find a way out of their problems?
We lament what our nation has become. However, we did not choose to be born for this nation. It is incumbent on us to fight for Somalia. Nonetheless, I believe in the possibilities of a nation which has made the choice to succeed. When the choice is made, Somalia shall go from the most dangerous place it has become to a bastion of tranquility for living, trade, investment and a cavorted after holiday destination. This is a possibility within our grasp. However, this can not happen if we remain divided, negative and self-defeating. This can only happen if we do something about it. We all have to do our bit to achieve a credible government, which can alleviate suffering, represent our nation’s interests, end ignominy, regain respect and restore dignity. If we give up on our own homeland, we may as well give up on our own lives. It is incumbent educated Somalis and intellectuals to take active participation in the endeavour to rescue our nation. For that matter, within the intellectual level, the time is approaching to take things to the next level to end the wilderness of our nation.
DISCLAIMER: All opinion expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessary reflect the opinion of Somalitalk and it’s editors.